May 27, 2008
Abbott's ambition

Given that at least our last three Attorneys General made runs for higher office - it may be more than that, but that's as far back as I can recall offhand - it should be no surprise that our current AG, Greg Abbott, has higher ambitions and has been socking away the cash to fuel whatever they may eventually be. My guess would be Lt. Gov. in 2010 if David Dewhurst runs for Governor, or Senate whenever KBH steps down. Or who knows, maybe Rick Perry will successfully psyche them both out of challenging him for the Governor's mansion, and Abbott will aim for that instead. He intends to go someplace, it's just a matter of when and where. And I don't think he intends to wait till 2014, when the state's demography will be that much less GOP-friendly.

In the meantime, after you've read that rather complimentary piece towards Abbott, here are a couple of recent editorials concerning his highly partisan vote fraud efforts to balance things out a bit. From the Statesman:

After a two-year investigation of voter fraud, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has only 26 minor cases of voting irregularities to show for his expenditure from a $1.4 million grant. Some of that money also was spent on other cases.

All of those cases involved Democrats and 18 of them were instances where lawful voters cast proper ballots that were collected and handled by someone else. That's technically illegal unless the carrier's name and address is on the envelope, but it's a petty prosecution.

Actually, the paltry results of Abbott's initiative are a good thing. It shows that vote fraud is hardly the "persistent problem" Abbott claimed it was when he announced the investigation in January 2006. The outcome of Abbott's efforts was published by The Dallas Morning News this week.

Republicans in the Legislature have been pushing for a more stringent voter identification law in Texas. Although the issue died in the chaos at the end of the 2007 session, it is sure to return in January. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who has made tougher voter identification a cornerstone of his administration, will see to that.

Nationally, tougher voter identification laws are favorite issues for Republicans, though there is little evidence of widespread voting fraud. Democrats contend that the GOP effort is a way to suppress turnout, since many of the voters who lack sufficient identification are the poor and elderly and minorities - who tend to vote Democratic.

Abbott's misguided investigation lends credence to the Democrats' argument. Several of the cases prosecuted by the attorney general's office involved people helping homebound senior citizens get and mail absentee ballots.

Is this the great voter fraud that Abbott said triggered an investigation into "a dramatic increase in indictments for voter fraud" in his initial press release? If so, it wasn't worth the time or the money.

And from the Dallas Morning News:

The hunt goes on. And on. And on.

Still, proponents of adding new personal identification requirements at Texas polling places haven't produced evidence of an Election Day problem that needs fixing.

Attorney General Greg Abbott tried but came up short, despite months of investigating. As detailed recently by Dallas Morning News senior political writer Wayne Slater, Mr. Abbott documented scattered cases of familiar methods of ballot fraud - schemes involving mail-in ballots, false registrations and manipulation of elderly voters.

These despicable acts undermine the democratic system and should be prosecuted based on state and federal laws already on the books.

But warnings from self-styled voting reformers have focused on other kinds of perceived threats to clean elections - patterns of voter impersonation at the polls and massive fraud using illegal immigrants.

Were those threats real, Mr. Abbott most certainly would have provided proof, helping Republican state lawmakers make their case for new laws requiring a photo ID at the polls to go along with the traditional Texas voter registration card.

He didn't.

No, he didn't. That won't stop him or any other Republican bent on passing a voter ID law from lying about the need for it, but then that's another place ambition can take you.

By the way, the Chron story mentions that a federal lawsuit filed against Abbott over his vote fraud prosecutions will go to trial starting tomorrow in Marshall. The Lone Star Project has all the details about that case.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 27, 2008 to Show Business for Ugly People