A bunch of well-heeled archconservatives launched a legal group Thursday with plans to pursue voter suppression measures — disguised as so-called election integrity laws — in states across the country.
The group, called Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections, was co-founded by some familiar names, including former Attorney General William Barr; Karl Rove, who was a top adviser to former President George W. Bush; and Steve Wynn, a Las Vegas hotel magnate accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct. (Wynn, the group’s finance chair, has denied the allegations.)
Think of it like a low-rent version of “The Expendables,” but the old white guys are somehow even older and obsessed with stopping people (disproportionately nonwhite people) from voting. Another one of the founders, right-wing lawyer Bobby Burchfield, told Reuters, “We do not think the courts should be setting the rules for elections. We believe that’s the province of state legislatures.”
If you’re well-versed in GOP speak, you know that translates to, “We think states should be allowed to pass oppressive anti-voting laws at will.” And it would make sense that some members of the group would be keen on defending states’ rights to pass such laws. Both Barr and Rove have been accused of unethical election meddling.
Don’t let Barr’s Jan. 6 committee testimony disputing Trump’s baseless election fraud claims fool you: Barr carried Trump’s water by suggesting the use of mail-in ballots would invite fraud in the lead-up to the 2020 election. And Rove has a long, long history of ruthless and anti-democratic election schemes.
The newly-formed group has tried to pre-empt concerns about its launch with a couple of unbelievable claims.
First, the group said its members reject conservative claims that the 2020 election was illegitimate due to mass voter fraud. But the restrictive laws they intend to support are premised on the same lies that undergird Trump’s election claims: that mass voter fraud exists.
The group also said it doesn’t plan to be a “foil” to voter enfranchisement groups like the one run by lawyer (and frequent “ReidOut” guest) Marc Elias. Maybe they took issue with the phrasing and just plan on being a “menace” or a “danger” to these groups’ goals.
Nonetheless, Elias himself seems fully aware this group poses a threat to voters around the country.
Let this group be a reminder that the conservative assault on ballot access is multipronged and extends from the statehouses to the halls of Congress and beyond.
In this case, we have the benefit of knowing what motivates many of the people involved, and we can adequately prepare for their inevitable attacks on democracy.
Ja’han Jones is The ReidOut Blog writer. He’s a futurist and multimedia producer focused on culture and politics. His previous projects include “Black Hair Defined” and the “Black Obituary Project.”