Hans A. von Spakovsky
Hans A. von Spakovsky (born
March 11, 1959) is an American attorney and a former member of the Federal Election Commission(FEC). He was nominated to the FEC by President George W. Bushon December 15, 2005and was appointed by recess appointmenton January 4, 2006. [ [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/01/20060104-3.html Personnel Announcement ] ] When his recess appointment expired, he was renominated, but for two and a half years, the United States Senatedeclined to approve his nomination due to controversy over his activities at the U.S. Department of Justice. On May 15, 2008, he withdrew his nomination. [ [http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/docs/von-spakovsky-withdraw/ vpm Spakovsky's letter rescinding his nomination] ]
Von Spakovsky is originally from
He is a first-generation American whose parents immigrated to the United States in 1951 after meeting in a refugee camp as
displaced personsafter the end of World War II.
He received a B.S. from the
Massachusetts Institute of Technologyin 1981 and a J.D. from the Vanderbilt University Law Schoolin 1984. Von Spakovsky is a member of the Georgia and Tennessee bars.
Prior to his appointment, von Spakovsky was Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the
U.S. Department of Justice, where he provided expertise and advice on voting and election issues, including the Help America Vote Actof 2002.
Previous experiences in election-related issues include service on the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections, which administered elections in the largest county in Georgia. He is a past member of the Georgia Election Officials Association and the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers. The
Commission on Federal Election Reform, organized by President Jimmy Carterand Secretary James Baker, has also sought his expertise. Commissioner von Spakovsky has testified before state and Congressional legislative committees and published articles on voter fraud, election reform, e-government, and Internet voting.
Prior to entering public service, von Spakovsky worked as a government affairs consultant, in a corporate legal department, and in private practice. In 1997, while an attorney and a member of the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections, von Spakovsky wrote a report for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, pointing out that
felonsremained on Georgia voter rolls.Fact|date=July 2008
Federal Election Commission
The Senate Committee on Rules and Administration scheduled a hearing on
June 13, 2007for von Spakovsky, and three other nominees to the Federal Election Commission.] In advance of the hearing, the committee received a letter by past career (civil service) staff of the Voting Section of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, whom von Spakovsky had supervisory authority over from early 2003 through December 2005, when he was the Voting Section Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division (von Spakovsky received his recess appointment by G.W. Bush to the FEC in January 2006). The letter strongly urged that von Spakovsky not be confirmed to his position on the Federal Election Commission, and criticized his stewardship of the DOJ Voting Section.] At that contentious hearing, Chair Dianne Feinsteinwarned von Spakovsky that he would have a difficult confirmation.cite news | first=Alexander | last=Bolton | coauthors= | title=Feinstein warns FEC member of rough confirmation process | date=June 14, 2007 | publisher=Capitol Hill Publishing | url =http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/feinstein-warns-fec-member-of-rough-confirmation-process-2007-06-14.html | work =The Hill | pages = | accessdate = 2007-06-14 | language = ] cite news | first=Joseph | last=Rich | coauthors= Robert A. Kengle, Stephen B. Pershing, Jon Greenbaum, David J. Becker, Bruce Adelson, and Toby Moore | title=Letter to Reject Hans von Spakovsky | date=June 19, 2007 | publisher= | url = http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/docs/letter-rules-vonspakovsky/?resultpage=1& | work =(via Talking Points Memo Document Collection) | pages = | accessdate = 2007-06-20 | language =
:(Letter Dated June 18, 2007)]
In a post-hearing letter sent by seven senior former DOJ employees to Feinstein, the former employees took issue with von Spakovsky's testimony that he was not influential or in charge of the Voting Section, and his claim he was a middle manager in the Civil Rights Division who did not make policy or personnel decisions. The employees stated in the letter that von Spakovsky acted as the "de facto voting section chief" from early 2003 until late 2005, spending most of his time on voting issues and furthering "partisan political interests." The letter also said von Spakovsky stripped the voting rights section chief of his authority to open investigations of discrimination without his superiors' approval. The letter stated: "We have never seen a political appointee exercise this level of control over the day-to-day operations of the voting section."] cite news | first=Joseph | last=Rich | coauthors= Robert A. Kengle, Stephen B. Pershing, Jon Greenbaum, David J. Becker, Bruce Adelson, and Toby Moore | title=Letter to Reject Hans von Spakovsky | date=June 19, 2007 | publisher= | url = http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/docs/letter-rules-vonspakovsky/?resultpage=1& | work =(via Talking Points Memo Document Collection) | pages = | accessdate = 2007-06-20 | language = (Letter Dated June 18, 2007)] ]
Dismissal of U.S. attorneys
According to an article published
May 20, 2007by McClatchy Newspapers, von Spakovsky is the latest in a series of current and former Department of Justice lawyers to be implicated in an on-going congressional investigation into the dismissal of U.S. Attorneys controversy.
The article noted that: "career department lawyers say that von Spakovsky steered the agency toward voting rights policies not seen before, pushing to curb minor instances of election fraud by imposing sweeping restrictions that would make it harder, not easier, for Democratic-leaning poor and minority voters to cast ballots."cite news | url=http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/news/nation/17256012.htm?source=rss&channel=krwashington_nation | publisher=McClatchy | title= Efforts to stop `voter fraud' may have curbed legitimate voting | author=Greg Gordon | date=May 20, 2007] Some of the examples cited were his pushing for approval of the Georgia ID voter law, over the objections of career staff, and which was later ruled unconstitutional; and going "so far in a crusade against voter fraud as to warn of its dangers under a pseudonym in a law journal article. Writing as "Publius," von Spakovsky contended that every voter should be required to produce a photo-identification card and that there was "no evidence" that such restrictions burden minority voters disproportionately."
In another incident, in 2004,
MinnesotaRepublican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyerdirected that tribal ID cards could not be used for voter identification by American Indians living outside reservations. This raised concerns that it would suppress the American Indian vote, and the US Attorneys office started to look into the matter. But there were orders from both Bradley Schlozmanand von Spakovsky, then both high ranking officials in the civil-rights division, which restricted the investigation, effectively ending any department inquiry. [cite news | title=Justice undone? Some say U.S. attorney targeted for protecting American Indian votes | author=Tom Hamburger | publisher=Los Angeles Times | date=May 31, 2007 | url=http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070531/REPOSITORY/705310377/1013/NEWS03]
September 25, 2007, one day before the Senate Rules Committeewas scheduled to vote on the confirmation, Slate Magazineprofiledvon Spakovsky, citing the above attorney dismissal and American Indian incidents as reasons why "Hans von Spakovsky cannot be confirmed to the FEC". [cite news | title=Do Not Vote for This Guy | author=Dahlia Lithwick | publisher=Slate | date=September 25, 2007 | url=http://www.slate.com/id/2174680/nav/tap3/] Others have defended von Spakovsky, including his predecessor on the FEC, Bradley A. Smith. [cite news | title=Is Being A Republican a Disqualification for Office | author=Bradley A. Smith | publisher=RedState | date=June 2007 | url=http://www.redstate.com/blogs/brad_smith/2007/jun/08/is_being_a_republican_a_disqualification_for_office_the_upcoming_senate_confirmation_of_fec_commiss]
* [http://www.fec.gov/members/von_Spakovsky/von_Spakovsky_bio.shtml Biography from the Federal Election Commission]
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