A new paper claiming that voter ID laws actually protect rather than disenfranchise minority voters is getting play in conservative circles. What isn’t being mentioned so much is the background of the paper’s author.
Horace Cooper, the author of the paper, told the Daily Caller this week that voter fraud “criminals — more often than not — are Democrats violating the rights of people who tend to be black or senior.”
Cooper may not have any expertise on voter fraud, but he does know a thing or two about falsifying documents. Cooper was indicted in 2009 on five public corruption charges, charged with exchanging political favors for gifts from Jack Abramoff. Cooper allegedly accepted bribes as a staffer to former Majority Leader Dick Armey, as chief of staff for Voice of America and when he worked for the Department of Labor. Cooper later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of falsifying a disclosure report and was sentenced to 36 months of probation.
Cooper asked a judge to shorten his sentence earlier this year so he could travel to Central Fiji on a trip paid for by Qorvis Communications, writing in a court document that he was hopeful a “more permanent employment relationship may develop” after the trip. [Late update: Qorvis’ Seth Thomas Pietras tells TPM the filing “must be the result of a misunderstanding and no employment offer was ever made of him.”] A judge denied the motion. Currently, he is “self-employed as a writer and legal commentator, and operates a PR consulting service,” according to a court filing.
In an interview on Thursday, Cooper accused TPM of “playing gotcha games” when we inquired about whether he was still on probation and said there was “absolutely no relevance” to the issue at hand. He called the Justice Department’s original charges against him “unsubstantiated” and said he’s been interested in voter integrity for a long time.
“I worked on Capitol Hill for almost 17 years, I worked as general counsel in the majority leader’s office, I worked on issues involving voter integrity. I followed and closely studied issues involving this matter for quite some time. I did not wake up yesterday and discover an interest in the matter,” Cooper said.
Cooper authored the paper on behalf of the National Center for Public Policy Research. As TPM reported in April, the NCPPR — which described itself as a “conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank” — formed a Voter Identification Task Force to continue ALEC’s “excellent work” in “promoting measures to enhance integrity in voting.”
While dubbed a “study” by Fox News and the Daily Caller, Cooper’s 1,898 word piece reads more like an article you’d read on TownHall.com, where Cooper wrote a regular column. His NCPPR piece cobbles together news reports about voter fraud allegations (including absentee ballot fraud, which wouldn’t be prevented by voter ID) and concludes that the voter fraud schemes “often target the same black voters once deprived under Jim Crow.”
Cooper called state data showing that individuals in heavily minority areas of Pennsylvania were less likely to have a state issued ID flawed, saying voter ID laws don’t create a barrier to the polls.
“There’s not been a study that says that if 18 percent of the people don’t have an ID, that 18 percent of the people wouldn’t vote. That’s a logical leap that actually can’t be made,” Cooper said.
“Merely because 18 percent do not have at present have the ID card it does not follow that lawfully, that is an impediment that meets the standard of a hurdle that would prevent a person from being able to vote,” Cooper added.
Late update: Justin Levitt fact checks Cooper’s paper here.
Here’s Fox News covering the “study” on Thursday morning (H/T Media Matters):