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Election Integrity News Blog


Unraveling the Secrecy: Allegations of Covert Agreements and Federal Influence on State Elections

(Watch first 33 minutes)

by Patrice Johnson | October 18, 2023

Kansas legislators found themselves in the eye of a political tornado when the Opportunity Solutions Project (OSP) presented evidence of covert agreements and questionable practices in the state's electoral process. The revelations, bearing eerie parallels to Michigan politics, hinted at a larger and more insidious issue affecting the democratic processes across all 50 states.

Madeline Malisa and Stewart Whitson, fellows at OSP, addressed the 2023 Special Elections Committee on September 28. Malisa led off her testimony alleging the scandal-ridden Kansas Governor, Laura Kelly, had executed a unilateral and covert consent decree without legislative input or approval.

"This agreement was signed with no input or approval from the legislature. To date, no copy of the settlement agreement has been released to the legislature or to the public," Malisa stated.

Meanwhile, on the same day as the OSP findings about lack of transparency and due process were raising concerns as to lawless elections processes in Kansas, 11 lawmakers in Michigan were filing a federal lawsuit to challenge election law changes that bypassed the state legislature.

The Founding Fathers, determined to protect the people’s elections from corruption, had crafted Article 1, Section 4, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The Elections Clause, as it is called, requires state legislatures alone to regulate “the times, places and manner of elections” through a democratic process. Having experienced firsthand the oppression of totalitarian rule, the Founding Fathers designed the fledging nation’s elections to fend off pressures of king-like executive orders, outstate influence, or backroom deals from state and federal executive offices.

The secrecy surrounding the Kansas agreement came to light on September 30, 2021—two years after it was signed into effect—when Demos, a well-funded left-wing group issued a press release.

The next day, the Kansas governor’s office circulated a media release mirroring the Demos release. In Kelly’s announcement of her two-year-cloaked consent decree, she acknowledged her office had “worked closely with Kansas voting rights advocacy non-profit Loud Light, represented by think tank Demos, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kansas, and the ACLU’s national Voting Rights Project.”

The relationship with the advocacy groups raised questions as to the motives behind the governor’s covert agreement, especially considering that, according to Whitson, one of Demos' primary goals is “to control elections in conservative states by writing the rules they must follow.”

"If Demos had not released this information,” Malisa said, “this settlement deal would have likely remained a secret.”

The governor's decision to send voter registrations only to people receiving public assistance as revealed in the agreement curled eyebrows and added another layer to the unfolding narrative. Taking a selective approach to transparency, discriminating in favor one group at the expense of another, and government overreach for partisan purposes are common to totalitarian states—and against the law in the United States.

However, these activities are reminiscent of the Michigan secretary of state’s legally unauthorized mailing of millions of ballot applications during the 2020 election. Then the SOS's office failed to disclose the return or handling of approximately 600,000 undeliverable applications.

In July 2023, MFE released a report showing that the Ann Arbor clerk opened two satellite voter registration sites on the University of Michigan campus to the exclusion of other demographic groups. She failed to set up clerk sites in equally concentrated residential areas of senior citizens. Her discriminatory actions, MFE maintains, favored students over other demographic groups.

Connecting the dots and legal questions to Biden Bucks

Stewart Whitson implicated Demos in shaping President Biden's Executive Order 14019, colloquially termed “Biden Bucks.” He argued that Demos, having failed to pass federal legislation, was applying its same playbook and leveraging executive branch powers in order to influence state elections’ policies. The White House and federal government is “forcing their policy upon the states through the power of the executive branch….This is happening at both the federal and the state level, especially in states like Kansas.” [And Michigan?]

Despite “excessive stonewalling and a complete lack of transparency from the Biden administration,” Whitson noted, “we can still get a pretty good idea of the true aims of this Order by studying the plan which the Executive Order is based on—the plan created by Demos.”

The Demos plan called on the Biden administration to “[i]ssue an executive order directing federal agencies serving under-registered populations to provide voter registration services,” and to build a new Department of Justice Civil Rights Division that is “fully staffed by political appointees” to “pursue aggressive civil and criminal enforcement of federal voting rights protections.”

IIn further revelations, Whitson showed the White House had hired the president of Demos and its director of legal strategies and then placed them into key roles to “help carry out the plan they created.”

“We can surmise that this order isn’t about increasing voter turnout for all voters, equally,” Whitson said. “No. This is a targeted get-out-the-vote scheme designed by the Left to benefit the Left, all paid for on the backs of federal taxpayers.

Back in Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed Senate Bill 367 into law on July 20, 2023. This new law allows the secretary of state to circumvent standard rulemaking procedures for early voting. No longer is Jocelyn Benson (D) required to open her rule changes to public comment or comment by the legislature’s bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).

“This is unprecedented because it strips out the legislature and the public’s right to know and have input on rules,” Michigan Senator Ruth Johnson (R) wrote in a message to Pure Integrity Michigan Elections (PIME).

As allegations of covert agreements, federal influence, and selective practices surface in Kansas, the broader question of the democratic process’s integrity looms. The interconnected events suggest a concerted governmental and third-party effort to influence state elections, challenging the principles of transparency, accountability, and equal representation. As legislators grapple with the aftermath, the implications of these revelations may extend far beyond state borders.

We are not in Kansas anymore.



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