Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, demanded that his Department of Public Safety create a list later used to push baseless voter fraud claims.
Texas has been working hard to purge voters illegally, and it turns out that Republican Governor Greg Abbott was in on it.
A newly released batch of emails shows that Abbott pushed the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to investigate the citizenship status of Texas voters, all in the hopes of ginning up voter fraud claims.
The entire enterprise didn't turn out well for the Texas GOP. They started with a splashy claim, saying 95,000 Texans were registered to vote but weren't citizens, and 58,000 of those people had voted in at least one election. The voter purge list was riddled with errors and many on the list were citizens. It led to a lawsuit and a settlement that required Texas to completely walk back its baseless fraud allegations.
It also led to the resignation of Texas' Acting Secretary of State David Whitley, who had pushed the voter fraud lie.
Abbott had thus far evaded embarrassment or responsibility for the entire affair, but that ended today when Campaign Legal Center, one of the groups that had sued the state, released emails detailing the creation of the voter purge list.
Abbott pops up in two emails in late August 2018. First, the DPS director of the driver's license division wrote that "[t]he Governor is interested in getting this information as soon as possible." That was followed by an email from a DPS employee saying, "We delivered this information earlier in the year, and we have an urgent request from the Governor's office to do it again."
According to Abbott, this doesn't mean he had anything to do with the voter purge list. Late Tuesday, John Wittman, his spokesman, said that any allegation Abbott requested DPS provide the citizenship information was "patently false" and that "neither the governor nor the governor’s office gave a directive to initiate this process."
That blanket denial doesn't address what "urgent request" the governor's office had that wasn't about the DPS voter purge list. It would have been trivial for Wittman to explain what the request was, if not that. However, he'd also have to explain away the swift enthusiasm with which Abbott praised Whitley for "uncovering and investigating this illegal vote registration."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.