Biden tapping tax dollars to boost Dem registration, turnout, warn House GOP, voting watchdog
Suspecting partisan intent behind an executive order instructing federal agencies to submit plans to expand political participation, nine ranking committee members warned administrators against "engaging in the Biden Administration's political activities."
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With midterm elections just around the corner, congressional Republicans and election watchdogs are sounding alarms that the Biden administration and left-leaning nonprofits may be tapping taxpayer dollars and tax-exempt funds, respectively, to boost voter registration and turnout among Democratic constituencies under the guise of protecting "democracy."
In March 2021, Biden issued an executive order entitled "Promoting Access to Voting," which instructed federal agencies to develop proposals to expand opportunities to register to vote and participate in the political process, then submit their strategic plans to the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Congressional Republicans have written letters to 12 federal agencies and both Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice raising concerns about the order.
"Federal agencies should be focused on serving the American people by fulfilling their respective missions, not engaging in the Biden Administration's political activities," wrote nine GOP House committee ranking members in a statement after sending the letters to the 12 federal agencies.
"At a time when our nation is facing many crises, we want to ensure that President Biden is not diverting resources away from important programs that fall directly under our congressional oversight," the Republicans continued.
One of the questions raised by Republicans is how the departments will ensure that federal employees won't violate the Hatch Act in implementing the executive order. The Hatch Act prohibits covered federal employees from using their official titles or positions while participating in political activity, which is defined as "activity directed at the success or failure of a political party, partisan political group, or candidate for partisan political office."
"Biden is revving up his reelection campaign with federal agencies," warns Phill Kline, the director of election watchdog organization The Amistad Project.
The effort is funded with "Biden Bucks," said Kine, alluding to "Zuckerbucks," the approximately $400 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg widely alleged to have been funneled through left-leaning nonprofits to turn out the Democratic vote in the 2020 presidential election.
The Center for Tech and Civic Life, which received the bulk of the $400 million in donations from Zuckerberg, has previously said that the funds were spent in an effort to make voting safer amid the pandemic, without any political preference.
While Biden Bucks are funding efforts similar to those funded privately in 2020 in the name of pandemic safety, the president is using taxpayer money under the pretext of democratic participation, according to Kline.
If the intent behind the executive order is to target a voter profile that benefits one political party at the expense of another, then it violates a range of laws, Kline explained. The administration, however, is "trying to disguise" its intent, he said. "The challenge," he acknowledged, "is proving intent."
The 2020 election yielded "enough evidence to prove intent," said Kline, as sophisticated technology was used "in certain areas to find Democratic voters to help turn them out while ignoring Republican profiles."
Amid mounting evidence that left-leaning nonprofits are planning another push to turn out Democrat voters like they did in 2020, Kline said that there is "no reason to believe their conduct in 2022 is different."
While Kline said that there's a "possibility of a lawsuit" challenging implementation of the executive order, most election misconduct cases require investigation or prosecution by state or local agencies, which haven't really researched or understood them.
Election laws specify what is prohibited, but not what the remedy should be when they're violated, Kline said.
In Wisconsin, for example, where the state Supreme Court ruled recently that the Wisconsin Election Commission illegally authorized the use of mail ballot drop boxes in 2020, the only remedy was to prohibit drop boxes from being used again, Kline said, while nothing was done to punish or retroactively disqualify their use in the 2020 presidential election.
"A lot of laws don't have appropriate sanctions or standing," Kline explained, noting that only candidates, not voters' groups, have standing to bring election lawsuits.
Moreover, he added, "concrete harm" is the threshold for standing, which means lawsuits can't be filed until after elections.
Election "laws are written for how elections used to be, not as they are," said Kline, lamenting that "election reforms haven't addressed those issues." He thinks a lawsuit can succeed only with strong evidence of specific intent based on "much more information than what we have right now," much of which will have to be extracted via "compulsory process" in which people are forced "to produce documents and testimony."
Biden's executive order regarding voter registration "is nearly identical to a federal election takeover plan crafted by the radical left-leaning group known as Demos," Republicans pointed out in a letter to Young earlier this year.
Demos is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Under IRS rules governing such organizations, "voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention."
Such tax-exempt organizations are "specifically allowed to engage in voter registration campaigns," J. Christian Adams, president of Public Interest Legal Foundation and former DOJ attorney, told Just the News on Wednesday.
However, he said, if leftist organizations admit that they are specifically targeting their efforts on behalf of certain candidates, contrary to the federal tax code, that could jeopardize their exempt status.
Kline said that conservative nonprofits are hesitant to launch voter registration efforts comparable to those of their left-leaning counterparts because they "get audited."
"The Biden administration is weaponizing institutions" against partisan opponents, Kline alleged, which illustrates the danger of nonprofits generally, he argued, as it's the government licensing an idea, which means that the government can push its agenda by revoking tax exempt status from organizations that disagree with it.
The White House Domestic Policy Council didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.