House Oversight Chairmen Seek Compliance from Texas Officials in Voter Suppression Probe

House Oversight Chairmen Seek Compliance from Texas Officials in Voter Suppression Probe


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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Democratic chairmen from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this week sent a letter to two Texas state officials following up on the committee’s previous letters seeking documents regarding efforts to purge voter rolls in Texas.

The committee is conducting its own investigation of the voter purge, and the Texas officials–Attorney General Ken Paxton and acting Secretary of State David Whitley — have been less than fully cooperative with the committee’s probe, according to committee leadership.

That’s what prompted this week’s letter to Paxton and Whitley from committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and civil rights and civil liberties subcommittee Chairman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.).

Cummings and Raskin requested the documents on March 28, 2019. Paxton and Whitley responded to the committee with incomplete and inadequate productions, citing an inapplicable state public records law and ongoing litigation to withhold documents from the committee, Oversight leadership said.

The Texas attorney general also wrongly asserted that the gommittee lacks jurisdiction to request documents from state agencies, the committee’s Democratic leaders said.

In their letters this week, the chairmen explain that the committee’s authority derives from the Constitution and is not limited by state public records laws or separate, ongoing litigation.

In contrast with this lack of compliance from Texas, other states have agreed to voluntarily comply with the committee’s voting-related document requests.

“The right to vote is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and Congress has clear authority under the Constitution to investigate any conduct at any level of government that may infringe on this fundamental right,” the chairmen wrote. “The Committee has a bipartisan history of investigating issues affecting Americans’ right to vote, including the administration of elections by state governments. The Committee also has a long history—under both Republican and Democratic Chairmen—of obtaining documents from state governments as part of its investigations.”

Click here to read this week’s letter to the Texas Attorney General.

Click here to read this week’s letter to the acting Texas Secretary of State. 

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