A Republican operative who was behind a sophisticated effort to make it harder for poor people and minorities to vote is back in the news. He’s handling Missouri’s lawsuit against the health-care reform law.
Mark “Thor” Hearne has been hired by Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder to challenge the law’s constitutionality. Several other states are bringing similar claims. Kinder is mounting a fundraising effort — even launching a website — to pay for the challenge to the law because the state’s Democratic attorney general has declined to get involved.
Long-time TPMmuckraker readers might remember Hearne, who previously went from being a top lawyer for President Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign to creating the American Center for Voting Rights. That was the bogus “voting-rights” group that, as election-law expert Rick Hasen has written, was created in 2006 to “give ‘think tank’ academic cachet to the unproven idea that voter fraud is a major problem in elections,” in order to “support the passage of onerous voter-identification laws that depress turnout among the poor, minorities, and the elderly—groups more likely to vote Democratic.”
ACVR was an integral part of the broader GOP scheme to restrict voting rights which lay behind much of the U.S. attorney firings scandal. For instance, Hearne reportedly complained to the White House and top DOJ officials about the lack of commitment to voter fraud issue shown by Todd Graves, then the U.S. attorney for western Missouri. Graves was fired not long after.
As Hasen has detailed, after Congress and the press began to devote some scrutiny to the firings in early 2007, ACVR abruptly disappeared. Hearne even reportedly cleansed his resume of any mention of the group.
One of the voter ID law that Hearne and his group helped push — then defended in court - was a Missouri law that required voters to show a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot. The law was struck down as unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court.
Most experts seem to think Hearne’s latest GOP-backed legal effort will fare no better.