Depending on what party one belongs to, most voters would seem to agree with political activist Kevin Zeese’s observation that “The Democrats think Republicans are stealing elections. The Republicans think Democrats are stealing elections. And those of us independent of the two old parties know they are both right.”
During Louisiana’s 1979 gubernatorial election, when I was elected as the new Secretary of State and chief elections officer, there were allegations of widespread voter fraud. Immediately after the election, I created an Elections Integrity Commission made up of non-partisan members. Mistakes were found in the election process but no instances of outright vote buying.
Yes, the Bayou State had a reputation of conducting some “dubious” elections, best exemplified by former Govern Earl Long’s hopes that “When I die, I want to be buried in Louisiana so I can stay active in politics.” But in recent years, such allegations proved to be without any merit.
Voters are entitled to a confidence that elections will be run fairly by elections officials, and that other public officials will not misuse their authority to unduly influence the outcome at the ballot box. Donald Trump has been harping on “a rigged election system” for a number of months, but has been short on specifics. But a new bombshell was dropped a few days ago by the director of the FBI.
Director James Comey announced a renewed investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails, after closing his initial probe some weeks ago. But is it his job to comment on ongoing investigations? Here’s what former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who served under President George Bush, wrote this week in Wall Street Journal. “Mr. Comey's authority extends only to supervising the gathering of facts to be presented to the Justice Department lawyers for their confidential determination of whether these facts justify a federal prosecution.”
Richard Painter served as chief White House ethics lawyer also under President Bush. He levied even stronger criticism over Comey’s public statements. “Public communication about a pending FBI investigation involving a candidate that is made on the eve of the election is very likely to be a violation of the Hatch Act and a misuse of an official position. It would be highly improper and abuse of power for the FBI to conduct such an investigation in the public eye, particularly eve of an election. The FBI’s job is to investigate, not to influence the outcome of an election.”
And the piling on continued. A bipartisan group of 100 former federal prosecutors and senior Department of Justice officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder (once the boss of Comey) chimed in to level criticism of Comey’s actions. “His unprecedented decision to publicly comment on evidence in what may be an ongoing inquiry just eleven days before a presidential election leaves us both astonished and perplexed,” said the signatories.
This is not an issue of whether a voter is for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or some other candidate. The question of political interference by the Director of the FBI is every bit as important and dangerous as tampering with voting machines. Comey’s actions go to the very heart of what constitutes a fair election under our democratic system of governing.
Voters in Louisiana and all over America should expect and insist that public officials do nothing to interfere with the election process. The FBI Director crossed that line of impropriety. We as Americans deserve much better.
“The greatest threat to the constitutional right to vote is voter fraud.”
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.