Hans von Spakovsky, the controversial Bush administration official who writes in support of restrictive voting laws, worked with the office of Gov. Rick Scott on the rollout of Florida’s voting list purge, according to documents shared with TPM.
Emails show that Scott’s communications staff planned to offer von Spakovsky up to local radio station as an expert on Florida’s effort to purge their voting lists back in June. While the purge targeted non-citizens, the state was using faulty data that included numerous legitimate voters.
Scott staffer Brian Burgess, in an email titled “Help In Florida!” told von Spakovsky he’d be “especially grateful if [he’d] be willing to work with my team [to] coordinate with you and the Heritage Foundation media relations folks to help get you booked on talk radio and TV here and nationally if possible.” The emails were obtained by the voting rights group Project Vote through a public information request.
Another Scott staffer, Karen Smith, emailed her colleagues saying that von Spakovsky told her he was “happy to help.” Using her Gmail address, Smith confirmed to von Spakovsky that she was going to contact radio hosts and recommend him as an expert on election law issues.
Burgess told TPM that von Spakovsky had no formal role in the press push.
“We did our own thing, but once he wrote the piece and game to our attention, basically agreeing with our position, we thought it would be beneficial if he talked more,” Burgess said.
Reached by phone by TPM, von Spakovsky said he was on vacation and didn’t wish to comment.
The Justice Department sued Florida over the voter purge in June because the National Voter Registration Act stipulated that voter roll maintenance should have ceased 90 days before Florida’s August 14 primary, but a judge would not issue an order to stop it from going forward. The federal government subsequently provided an accurate database of citizens for the state to use when conducting the purge.
Florida has passed a series of restrictive voting laws, including a law shortening the early voting period in the state which was prevented from going into effect in several counties because a federal court ruled it was discriminatory.