Exposing the Shameful Attacks on Donald Palmer

by | Apr 25, 2023 | Election Integrity

It’s been said that if Democrats didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards at all. That hypocrisy is on full display in the Left’s ongoing assault against U.S. Election Assistance Commissioner Donald Palmer—a blitz that’s called in fake news groups and partisan vote-by-mail advocates in the name of “transparency.”

The Background

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is a federal organization created by the 2002 Help America Vote Act to help states with voting systems and election administration. It’s officially bipartisan, led by two Republicans and two Democrats.

In February 2023, Palmer attended a confidential Republican secretaries of state conference held by the conservative Heritage Foundation, Honest Elections Project, and Public Interest Legal Foundation to develop election integrity strategies. Palmer himself participated in two panels: One titled “Updates from the Hill” alongside senior congressional counsel and the second on proposed “fixes and reforms” to the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

ERIC is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We’ve thoroughly documented how this organization, supposedly created by nonpartisan reformers to clean up state voter rolls, is actually the Left’s top tool for digging up new Democratic voters—one denied to conservative groups. To date, seven states—most recently Iowa—have announced their withdrawal from ERIC, citing its partisan leadership, unnecessary voter registration mandate, and failure to actually remove ineligible people from the rolls. (Among them was Missouri, whose secretary of state joined Palmer on the ERIC panel.)

Partisan Investigations

The conference was first dug up by Documented, a left-wing investigative journalism site created ca. 2017 to attack conservatives, particularly President Trump.

What Documented doesn’t advertise is its co-founder: Lisa Graves, a far-left activist and ex-director of the Center for Media & Democracy (CMD). CMD uses money from the SEIU, AFL-CIO, and the Ford, Tides, and Open Society Foundations to fund biased hit sites like SourceWatch, which criticize conservative “dark money.” Double-standards didn’t stop Graves’ group from accepting over $500,000 in anonymous contributions from a donor-advised fund while ignoring leftist groups’ own undisclosed donors.

Documented is now aligned with the “progressive” magazine Mother Jones, the Guardian, and the Intercept, which is heavily funded by eBay founder and Democratic mega-donor Pierre Omidyar. Notably, Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald, himself a liberal, resigned from the outlet after it refused to run an article critical of (then-2020 presidential candidate) Joe Biden, calling it “censorship.”

Not surprisingly, the site’s leadership and staff also hail from the professional Left’s ranks. In fact, it’s entirely possible that Documented was created as a CMD front but its origins are too murky to tell.

Director Nick Surgey is a former CMD research director and counsel to Common Cause, an advocacy group specializing in lawsuits against Republican election laws—including efforts to clean up voter rolls. Common Cause wants states to join ERIC, listing membership among its slate of election “reforms” alongside automatic and same-day voter registration, ballot curing, restoration of felon voting rights, and permanent vote-by-mail.

Documented co-director Brendan Fischer is a former general counsel for CMD and litigation director for the left-wing Campaign Legal Center (CLC). CLC was established with funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts—which also spawned ERIC—to demand stricter campaign-finance laws (McCain-Feingold) and later to combat voter ID laws. Today it’s funded by Omidyar, Soros, Sam Bankman-Fried, and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to lobby states into letting felons vote from their jail cells, among other “reforms.”

At least one Documented senior researcher also previously worked for CMD. Two more Documented analysts worked for the radical anti-energy group Greenpeace prior to joining the news site. One staffer previously headed the North Carolina affiliate of Eric Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which aims to gerrymander states in favor of Democrats. To illustrate the activist web, in 2019 the committee paid Common Cause’s legal fees after it sued North Carolina into surrendering its Republican-drawn congressional map, which the Wall Street Journal dubbed a “redistricting coup.”)

And yet another Documented staffer previously worked for Accountable.US, a “nonpartisan” attack group spawned by the $1.7 billion nonprofit network run by Arabella Advisors, the most powerful “dark money” empire in Washington.

Fake News

Documented didn’t report on Palmer’s involvement in the secretaries of state conference. That was left to States Newsroom, a partisan news shop created by the Arabella network to shape the news cycle along “progressive” lines.

States Newsroom was originally incubated in 2019 by the Hopewell Fund, one of Arabella’s in-house 501(c)(3) groups. Back then, the newsroom didn’t try to hide its bent—one job posting proudly proclaimed it a “progressive political journalism startup based in North Carolina, a battleground state the Left has poured vast resources into flipping.

Newsroom director Chris FitzSimon spent 13 years at NC Policy Watch, a front for the North Carolina Justice Center, which spawns new activist groups trying to tilt the state left. Not coincidentally, States Newsroom acquired NC Policy Watch earlier this year and relaunched it as the network’s North Carolina affiliate—thanks to a $3 million contribution from Pew Charitable Trusts.

We’ve traced States Newsroom grants from the Wyss Foundation, the philanthropy of Swiss mega-donor Hansjörg Wyss, one of the largest donors to the Arabella network. In 2021, Wyss attempted to create a media empire by buying the Chicago Tribune, which even the New York Times decried as a foreign, partisan takeover.

The newsroom’s board includes ex-Perkins Coie attorney and Marc Elias crony Ezra Reese as well as Courtney Cuff, a Colorado activist who formerly led the Gill Foundation, the biggest funder of the campaign to legalize gay marriage. (Its funder, Tim Gill, also co-founded the Democracy Alliance, which convenes the Left’s top donors to coordinate their political spending.)

Transforming Our Elections

In bashing Palmer’s alleged lack of transparency, States Newsroom sought out help from Amber McReynolds, herself an activist now involved in the Left’s bid to take over the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and transform it into the world’s largest vote-by-mail dropbox.

We’ve exposed the stealth campaign to build an illegal supermajority on the USPS Board of Governors and fire Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee. McReynolds is the key to this scheme.

She previously led the union-backed National Vote at Home Institute, which used the COVID-19 pandemic to push all-mail elections in 2020. For her reward, Biden nominated her to the USPS oversight board in early 2021—but as an “independent,” not a Democrat, in order to bypass a cap of 5 Democrats on the 9-person board.

Common Cause, a Vote at Home partner, runs an entire lobbying campaign to “fire DeJoy” and overhaul USPS’ ballot-collecting capabilities. That starts with nominating a Democrat to fill an outgoing Republican seat sometime in 2023, giving the Left six seats and total control of the agency’s future.

Yet States Newsroom only refers to McReynolds as “politically unaffiliated.”

Playing Games

What’s clear is that this is just another smear campaign by leftists who refuse to investigate their own side’s “dark money” and secret advocacy.

In other words, it’s politics as usual.

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