On a weekend where many Georgia Republicans are gathered in Columbus to celebrate a virtually guaranteed two additional years in control of both the legislative and executive branches of state government, there is a bit of bad news that could hamper the festive atmosphere that has emerged at the 2008 state Republican convention.
Hans von Spakovsky, the former Chairman of the Fulton County Republican Party, has withdrawn his name from consideration for a seat on the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).
In a letter to President Bush dated May 16, 2008, von Spakovsky wrote, “It is with great regret that I write to request that you withdraw my nomination to be a Commissioner on the Federal Elections Commission. My nomination has been pending for almost two and one half years in the Senate without any resolution. This process has been extremely hard on my family, and quite frankly, we do not have the financial resources to continue to wait until this matter is resolved. […] …it is past time that the FEC was reconstituted – the agency that is tasked with policing our campaign finance system needs to be operational during a presidential election year. The opposition to my nomination (however unfair) is preventing that from happening.”
Senate Democrats opposed von Spakovsky’s nomination because of his role in approving a 2005 Georgia law that required voters to present a government-issued photo ID card in order to cast their ballots on election day. Some critics, including Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, said the former U.S. Department of Justice attorney overruled “the recommendations of several career staff lawyers who had reviewed the Georgia voter ID law and determined that it would unduly hinder the ability of black voters to cast their ballots.” [Source: 6/12/2007 Barack Obama press release “Obama Raises Concerns Over FEC Nominee’s Record of Partisanship”]
However, a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a much tougher Indiana voter ID law may serve to vindicate von Spakovsky’s support of Georgia’s voter ID law. In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the Indiana law with Justice John Paul Stevens writing that it was the Court’s opinion that, “We cannot conclude that the statute imposes ‘excessively burdensome requirements’ on any class of voters.” [Source: 4/28/2008 MSNBC article “Supreme Court upholds voter ID law”] The Court’s decision was applauded by Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel as a “victory for voter protection and the integrity of the elections process.”
Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said President Bush reluctantly accepted von Spakovsky’s withdrawal.
“Although Mr. von Spakovsky’s good faith legal positions have been vindicated…Senate Democrats repeatedly refused to consider the facts surrounding his record. Instead, Senate Democrats put partisanship ahead of a fully functioning, bipartisan FEC. President Bush is disappointed that partisan politics will prevent this good man from continuing to serve our country.” [Source: 5/16/2008 Politico/The Crypt blog “Hans von Spakovsky withdraws FEC nomination”]