American Oversight today announced the launch of its State Accountability Project, a new initiative to expose government corruption at the state and local level — starting with a series of public records requests aimed at uncovering voter-suppression activities in Florida, Georgia, and Texas.
Already, we have filed nearly 50 public records requests with state and county officials in those states, seeking copies of communications with voting-restriction advocates like former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach or the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky as well as communications with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative political organization that supplies state legislatures with draft model legislation.
“Voter suppression is the corruption of democracy itself, and most of that corruption isn’t happening in Washington, D.C., but in the state and local governments that set the rules for voting,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “American Oversight has spent two years using public records requests and litigation to expose the truth and hold federal officials accountable, and we’re now using that same model to fight corruption in the states.”
Additional records requests in Florida seek documents and communications about H.B. 7089, a piece of legislation that would require people with felony records to pay all court costs before their voting rights could be fully restored. In November 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 4, a measure that restored voting rights to people with felony records.
In more than half of states, one political party controls the governorship and both legislative houses, leading to decreased scrutiny of potential misconduct by government officials across the country. Starting with the voter suppression investigations in Florida, Georgia, and Texas, the State Accountability Project will apply American Oversight’s legal and investigative expertise to uncovering corruption at the state and local level.
“For many Americans, corruption in the state house can do more immediate harm than the latest drama in the White House,” Evers added. “Between one-party control and the decline in funding for local journalism, there is often no one watching out for misconduct by state and local officials, and corruption has been allowed to flourish nearly unchecked.”
More details about American Oversight’s State Accountability Project, including the records requests sent to Florida, Georgia, and Texas, can be found here.