BARBER SAYS HE HOPES
FARR WILL CHANGE
By Cash Michaels
Rev. Dr. William Barber says his “hope” is that defeated federal judicial candidate, Raleigh Attorney Thomas Farr, is not re-nominated for U.S. Senate confirmation when Congress begins its new term January 3rd.
“Rather I’d like to see him take a long vacation, and think about what he’s done [ in terms of racial politics],” said the former president of the NC NAACP, in response to a question at a Dec. 17thpress conference outside of the NC Legislative Building.
Thanks to efforts by the NCNAACP, the press and others, the defeat of Raleigh Attorney Thomas Farr’s confirmation to a judicial seat in the Eastern District of North Carolina is just one of two handed to President Trump in the U.S. Senate this year.
It was after NC NAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman and a contingent of NAACP members from eleven chapters across the state went to Washington, D.C. a month, and lobbied senators not to confirm Farr’s nomination because of his documented racial history, that South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott, the Senate’s only African-American Republican, announced that he would vote “no,” along with outgoing Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, to stop Farr in his tracks.
That was possible because the GOP only had a 51-49 lead in the Senate this term, meaning without Scott and Flake, even if Vice President Mike Pence is brought in, the vote is still one shy.
But that won’t be the case come January 3rd, when the next Congress convenes, and the Republicans will have a 53-47 advantage over the Senate Democrats. Pres. Trump could easily re-nominate Thomas Farr to the Eastern District judicial seat, and unless three other Republicans join Sen. Scott in voting “no,” Farr’s nomination would be a sure thing.
Given that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) prides himself on delivering the lion’s share of Pres. Trump’s judicial picks, observers say the possibility is not off the table.
Farr, a former campaign attorney for the late segregationist Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), who U.S. Justice Dept documents show was involved in in the Helms’ campaign’s 1984 and 1990 “ballot security” program to disenfranchise black democratic voters, is seen as a longtime Republican loyalist who has legally defended the voter ID and redistricting schemes of GOP legislative leadership, schemes that were ultimately ruled unconstitutional in the federal courts.
Attorney Irving Joyner, Legal Redress Committee chair for the NC NAACP, says the possibility of Trump re-nominating Farr just to rankle his critics, is more likely than not.
“I think that it is highly likely that Trump will re-nominate Farr to this judicial vacancy. In light of Farr's history,” atty. Joyner says. “It will be disgraceful for him to do so, but you should not expect Trump to deviate from his past racist and evil ways. Farr is exactly the type judge that Trump wants on the court and there is still sufficient Republican votes in the Senate which he can rely upon to achieve this goal. It is to be remembered that the number of Republican Senators increased during the 2018 election and Burr and Tillis are still major Farr backings. If Farr is not re-nominated for this judicial vacancy, I bet that he will end up with an appointment in the U.S. Justice Department.”
Rev. Barber is hopeful that Farr, whose nomination he vigorously campaigned against before he left the NC NAACP presidency in 2017, has seen the error of his ways in the face of
unflinching opposition to his elevation to the federal bench, in a district which is home to over thirty percent of North Carolina’s African-American population.
“My great prayer for Farr is that during this Christmas season…,” Barber told reporters on Dec. 17th, “… he changes, repents, turns. I’d like to see him not be re-nominated again for the federal court, but to have a change of heart and come work for the NAACP and the Poor People’s Campaign.”
As a crowd of supporters Around Rev. Barber laughed and cheered, the civil rights leader added, ‘I’m serious. I believe in redemption.”
“But if he doesn’t, we’re not going to stop. If Trump and others do try to reappoint him, we’re going to fight him,” Barber vowed. “But I don’t believe they’re going to do that.”
RELEASED REPORT CONFIRMS THAT
FEDS DID NOTHING ABOUT 2016
BLADEN ABSENTEE BALLOT ALLEGATIONS
By Cash Michaels
As first reported by the Black Press earlier this month, after the NC Board of Elections investigated allegations of absentee ballot harvesting in Bladen County against Leslie McCrae Dowless after the November 2016 election, and factually determined that they had merit, the BOE referred its findings to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District.
But nothing happened.
On Dec. 19th, the state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement released a January 23, 2018 report titled, “Exhibit 220.127.116.11,” confirming what the Black Press first and exclusively reported on December 13th, that Dowless had been implicated in paying people to collect absentee ballots from voters, which is illegal in North Carolina.
“Because the 2016 General Election was a Federal Election, and because of the seriousness of the alleged conduct associated with possible manipulation, or attempts to manipulate election results in Bladen County and elsewhere, these matters merit referral for prosecutorial review and possible criminal prosecution,” the report stated.
“Additionally., in as much as there are possible federal violations of law, a decision was made by the state Board of Elections on December 3, 2016 to refer these matters to the United States Attorney’s Office for review.”
It was veteran Durham attorney Irving Joyner, who was representing the Bladen Improvement Association Political Action Committee (BIA) then, who shared that revelation with this newspaper several weeks ago after national media identified Dowless, a well-known Bladen County political operative and convicted felon, as the “person of interest’ at the center of the alleged 2018 election fraud controversy involving Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready in the Ninth Congressional District race.
Harris won that midterm election by a scant 905 votes over McCready, mostly by absentee ballots. However, the state Board of Elections refused to certified the race, noting that, once again, some of the same curious patterns involving absentee ballots from Bladen County in 2016 were evident. Multiple investigations are underway involving the state BOE, the Wake County District Attorney’s Office, the State Bureau of Investigation, and even, reportedly, the FBI.
As first reported by the Black Press Dec. 20th, the BIA-PAC had been accused by Dowless in 2016 of manipulating mail-in absentee-ballots. He was the District Soil and Water Conservation supervisor who was opposed by a write-in Democratic candidate named Franklin Graham. Graham’s name appeared on several straight Democratic tickets submitted on absentee ballots by voters the BIA-PAC worked with, and Dowless didn’t like it.
He complained to the state BOE, and the McCrory Re-election Campaign and NC Republican Party followed suit, alleging that the Democratic Party-backed BIA-PAC was committing election fraud.
But Dowless had problems of his own, as several complaints were filed against him by voters who alleged that he “…was paying certain individuals to solicit absentee request forms and to collect absentee ballots from Bladen county voters. In doing so….,” the NCBOE report continued, “…workers employed by Dowless were required to hand-carry the ballots to Dowless in order to be paid.”
“Dowless allegedly instructed his workers to “push” votes for certain candidates while meeting with voters,” the report added.
Later in the NCBOE report, Dowless is alleged to have coached his workers on what to say to NCBOE investigators if contacted.
Meanwhile, Dowless’ complaint NCBOE complaint against the BIA-PAC was probed, and officially determined that while some procedures were broken, there was no criminal or fraudulent intent, and none of the voters involved had any complaints against the BIA-PAC.
The BOE officially dismissed it.
However, the report continues that an attorney for then Gov. Pat McCrory, who was bitterly contesting his loss to Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, was actually behind the Dowless complaint against the BIA-PAC, alleging “…a massive scheme to run an absentee ballot mill involving hundreds of ballots, perpetrated by, and through the BIA-PAC.” The McCrory campaign attorney wanted those ballots disqualified.
That case was referred to the US Attorney’s Office as well, but with the NCBOE note that it determined that no laws were broken. Laws were broken by Dowless in 2016, however, but until this day, there has been no action by federal authorities who knew about his activities going back at least two years ago.
NC NAACP Challenges Voter ID Law in Federal Lawsuit
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2018
Contact: Joy Cook
NC NAACP Challenges Voter ID Law in Federal Lawsuit
RALEIGH, N.C. – The NC NAACP State Conference and six branches of the NC NAACP representing voters from across the state today filed suit in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of North Carolina under the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution challenging the North Carolina General Assembly’s passage of a new discriminatory photo ID law.
“This is a brazen effort by a lame-duck, usurper legislature to once again legislate voter suppression,” said Irv Joyner, Legal Redress Chair of the NC NAACP and counsel for the plaintiffs. “This law is designed to suppress the votes of people of color. The federal courts have seen through this legislature’s attempts to do this before and we are confident that they will see through this current attempt, as well.”
“Photo voter ID is never justified,” said Rev. Spearman, President of the NC NAACP. “It is always discriminatory and immoral and has been the long-sought after voter suppression goal of this extremist legislature. We are called upon once again to defend the sacred right to vote and we will not back down.”
“Armed with the same information that led to the discriminatory bill struck down by the courts in 2016, the lame-duck General Assembly did it again,” said Kirkland & Ellis’s Dan Donovan, co-counsel for the Plaintiffs. “Since the last voting bill was struck down, the legislature still has not identified any problem with the voting process that needed to be solved or that justifies the burden this photo ID requirement impose on voting.”
The NC NAACP requests the court for immediate relief, asking the Court to declare that the law violates federal law, and enjoin it from taking effect.
For a copy of the complaint see: FILE STAMPED COMPLAINT
The NC NAACP and local branches are represented here by the non-profit racial justice organization, Forward Justice, Attorney Irving Joyner, and pro bono law firm counsel of Kirkland and Ellis LLP. Together this legal team served as counsel in NC NAACP v. McCrory on behalf of the NC NAACP and individual plaintiffs in the Federal challenge that invalidated the last iteration of Photo Voter ID and voting rights restrictions passed in 2013 as H.B. 589, in which the Fourth Circuit struck down as unconstitutional five racially discriminatory provisions of the 2013 “monster voter suppression law” (HB 589), after determining that the challenged provisions “target[ed] African Americans with almost surgical precision,” and “impose[d] cures for problems that did not exist.
CBC CHALLENGES TRUMP, SOCIAL
MEDIA GROUPS ON RUSSIAN
ATTEMPTS TO SUPRESS BLACK VOTE
By Cash Michaels
In light of a recent report for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which revealed Russian attempts to suppress the black vote in 2016, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Black Caucus Diversity Task Force, co-chaired by representatives G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-1) and Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), called on President Donald Trump “…to take the security of our elections seriously, and work with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the FBI to stop foreign election meddling efforts.”
Considered the latest and most detailed account, thus far, of exactly how extensive Russian trolls were, not only in disrupting the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but skewing it in favor of Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton, the report titled, “The Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency (IRA),” documents how popular social media platforms were used to urge African-American voters to stay home on Election Day.
Reviewing thousands of ads and posts on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others, the research done by Computational Propaganda Project at Oxford University, and social media specialist Graphika, showed how among traditional Democratic Party support groups, African-Americans were particularly targeted with messages like, “No lives matter to Hillary Clinton. Only votes matter to Hillary Clinton,” among others.
The St. Petersburg, Russia-based IRA began targeting Americans in 2014 before Trump officially announced for the presidency, initially drumming up primarily while, conservative Republicans tp prepare for the 2016 elections. When trump became the GOP nominee, researchers say IRA began focusing its attention towards pushing his campaign, and chipping away at Hillary Clinton by trying to demoralize the traditional Democratic Party base, most prominently African-Americans.
“The scale of their operation was unprecedented,” the report states. “They reached 126 million people on Facebook, at least 20 million users on Instagram, 1.4 million users on Twitter, and uploaded over 1,000 videos to YouTube. As Department of Justice indictments have recently revealed, this manipulation of American political discourse had a budget that exceeded $25 million USD and continued well into 2018.”
According to the report:
- The most prolific IRA efforts on Facebook and Instagram specifically targeted Black American communities and appear to have been focused on developing Black audiences and recruiting Black Americans as assets.
- The IRA created an expansive cross-platform media mirage targeting the Black community, which shared and cross-promoted authentic Black media to create an immersive influence ecosystem.
- The IRA exploited the trust of their Page audiences to develop human assets, at least some of whom were not aware of the role they played. This tactic was substantially more pronounced on Black-targeted accounts.
The Congressional Black Caucus and its Diversity Task Force says it wants to hear from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg and other social media company CEOs about what steps they are taking to make sure that their platforms are not “weaponized” against Americans again.
“We cannot allow the deceit and misinformation that characterized the 2016 elections to be repeated in the future,” the CBC said.