Fact-Free Letter Is Only Latest Misleading Partisan Operation For Torchinsky
Following a series of letters sent to television stations around the country asking that 60 Plus' dishonest political advertisements be taken down, Jason Torchinsky, a lawyer for the organization behind the ads, sent a letter of his own to television stations. Urging the stations to continue to broadcast the ads, Torchinsky's letter reiterated a number of false and misleading claims made in the advertisements — no surprise given Torchinsky's highly partisan background. Torchinsky has repeatedly acted to mislead voters on behalf of the Republican Party, has deep ties to a number of conservative interest groups, and was involved in the Bush Department of Justice during a politically-motivated push to shift focus onto cases of voter fraud.
You can read our fact-check of Torchinsky's misleading letter HERE.
Torchinsky Has A History Of Deliberately Misleading Voters
Torchinsky Created Fake "Progressive" Group To Send Out Mailers Attacking A Democrat. From Talking Points Memo:
Well, I think we have our answer as to who is behind the Progressive Policy Council, the phony group behind a mailer that's gone out to an untold number of Pennsylvania voters in an apparent attempt to sour liberal voters on Democrat Bob Casey.
Records with the Virginia State Corporation Commission show that the group's charter was filed by a man named Jason Torchinsky of Holtzman Vogel. [TPM Muckraker, 10/30/06]
In 2006, The Progressive Policy Council Purported "To Advocate For Progressive Public Policy Solutions" And Sent Anti-Dem Mailers To PA Voters. From Talking Points Memo:
TPM Reader TC, who lives there, sent us a scan of a mailer he received Saturday. You can see it here. The mailing purports to be from a group called The Progressive Policy Council, which, according to the mailer, "is a not-for-profit organization seeking to educate the public and to advocate for progressive public policy solutions for contemporary social issues," and provides bullet points to show that Democrat Bob Casey and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) are both against gay marriage, stem cell research, and "common sense gun controls."
Indeed, the url on the mailer, www.progressivepolicycouncil.org, leads nowhere. And the group, despite its stated purpose to get the message out, definitely does not want to be contacted.
Whoever is behind the group, which was formed in mid-June, has taken care not to leave any public traces. [TPM Muckraker, 10/30/06]
American Center For Voting Rights (ACVR)
TPM: "Diminishing Voter Turnout Is Somewhat Of A Hobby For Torchinsky." From Talking Points Memo: "Actually, it turns out that diminishing voter turnout is somewhat of a hobby for Torchinsky. Torchinsky is also affiliated with the American Center for Voting Rights, a conservative organization working to pass Voter ID laws in several states." [TPM Muckraker, 10/30/06]
ACVR's Agenda Would Have "Depress[ed] Turnout Among The Poor, Minorities, And The Elderly - Groups More Likely to Vote Democratic." From Slate:
But the second prong of this attack may have proven more successful. This involved using ACVR to give "think tank" academic cachet to the unproven idea that voter fraud is a major problem in elections. That cachet would be used 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. Where the Bush administration may have failed to nail illegal voters, the effort to suppress minority voting has borne more fruit, as more states pass these laws, and courts begin to uphold them in the name of beating back waves of largely imaginary voter fraud.
Consisting of little more than a post-office box and some staffers who wrote reports and gave helpful quotes about the pervasive problems of voter fraud to the press, the group identified Democratic cities as hot spots for voter fraud, then pushed the line that "election integrity" required making it harder for people to vote. The group issued reports (PDF) on areas in the country of special concern, areas that coincidentally tended to be presidential battleground states. In many of these places, it now appears the White House was pressuring U.S. attorneys to bring more voter-fraud prosecutions.
Torchinsky Tied To Politically-Motivated Voter Fraud Cases in DOJ
Bush DOJ Tried To Use Invented Voter Fraud Epidemic To Disenfranchise Democratic Voters. According to Harper's Magazine:
Alberto Gonzales is down to his last couple of days as Attorney General, he appears to be focusing his attention on the 2008 elections. What, you might ask, does the Gonzales Justice Department have to do with the next election? Plenty. And they have a clear, predictable objective. In fact it happens to align perfectly with the objective and plans of the Republican Party.
The G.O.P./DOJ plan is simple: the fewer voters the better. In particular they would like to see voter rolls purged where Democratic registration is strong and Republican registration is weak. This process will eliminate some duplicate or improper registrations. It will also disenfranchise thousands of legitimate, properly registered voters who will show up on Election Day to vote and discover that their names no longer appear on the rolls. And a disproportionate portion of these voters will be Black, Latino, or residents of precincts which have a suspicious habit of supporting Democrats. The G.O.P./DOJ view is apparently that these voters are the enemy. [Harper's Magazine, 9/12/07]
Obama Transition Team: Voting Rights Section of DOJ Prioritized Voter Fraud To Suppress Minority Turnout. According to TPM Muckraker, a report on the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ compiled by the Obama-Biden transition team found:
The politicization of legal analyses and case decisions at the expense of sound law enforcement was particularly egregious in the Voting Section, and the politicized personnel decisions described above had a particularly deleterious impact here. It is evident that the Section, at times at the behest of DOJ's highest ranking officials, prioritized a voter fraud prevention and prosecution agenda designed to suppress minority voter turnout; and decisions on some Section 5 submissions were crafted to serve partisan ends. Notably, the Section focused on the HAVA provisions that allow for purging voter rolls, rather than the provisions that promote voter registration. Although the Section did bring a significant number of language assistance cases, it largely abandoned voting rights cases on behalf of African Americans until very recently. In addition to remedying these enforcement gaps, as explained below, the Section must hire and train attorneys and analysts now to prepare for the avalanche of Section 5 redistricting submissions that will follow the 2010 census. [Obama-Biden transition team via TPM Muckraker, 9/13/10, emphasis added]
Torchinsky Worked In DOJ's Civil Rights Division During Bush-Era Politicization. From TPM Muckraker:
In addition to working at the White House counsel's office under Alberto Gonzales, Torchinsky was Deputy General Counsel to Bush-Cheney '04 and Counsel to the 2005 Presidential Inaugural Committee, according to an online bio. At the Justice Department, he had a short stint in the U.S. attorney's office in Milwaukee as a Special Assistant USA (he did not handle any voting related cases, according to filings) and was a junior political appointee in the Civil Rights Division. When he left the Division, he held the title of Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General. [TPM Muckraker, 5/22/07, parentheses original]
Pressuring DOJ To Pursue Trumped-Up Cases of Voter Fraud Was Part Of A Partisan Strategy. According to Slate:
Presidential adviser Karl Rove and his allies, who have been ghostbusting illusory dead and fictional voters since the contested 2000 election, apparently mounted a two-pronged attack. One part of that attack, at the heart of the current Justice Department scandals, involved getting the DoJ and various U.S. attorneys in battleground states to vigorously prosecute cases of voter fraud. That prong has failed. After exhaustive effort, the Department of Justice discovered virtually no polling-place voter fraud, and its efforts to fire the U.S. attorneys in battleground states who did not push the voter-fraud line enough has backfired. [Slate, 5/18/07]
EAC Report Found "Widespread" Agreement "That There Is Little Polling Place Fraud." A 2006 U.S. Election Assistance Commission report on voting fraud and voter intimidation found that "[t]here is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud, or at least much less than is claimed, including voter impersonation, 'dead' voters, noncitizen voting and felon voters. Those who believe it occurs often enough to be a concern say that it is impossible to show the extent to which it happens, but do point to instances in the press of such incidents. Most people believe that false registration forms have not resulted in polling place fraud, although it may create the perception that vote fraud is possible." [U.S. Election Assistance Commission, 5/17/06]
EAC Report Noted Torchinsky Was "The Only Interviewee Who Believes That Polling Place Fraud Is Widespread." The 2006 U.S. Election Assistance Commission report on voting fraud and voter intimidation reported: "Jason Torchinsky from the American Center for Voting Rights is the only interviewee who believes that polling place fraud is widespread and among the most significant problems in the system." [U.S. Election Assistance Commission, 5/17/06]
Torchinsky Has Deep Ties To Bush And Republican Interests
Torchinsky Was A Lawyer For The '04 Bush Campaign And '05 Inaugural Committee. Torchinsky's biography on the HoltzmanVogel PLLC website states: "During the 2004 election cycle, Jason served as Deputy General Counsel to Bush-Cheney '04 and Deputy General Counsel to the 2005 Presidential Inaugural Committee." [HoltzmanVogel PLLC, accessed 9/24/10]
Torchinsky's Highly Partisan Legal Resume Includes Membership In The Federalist Society. From Torchinsky's biography on the HoltzmanVogel PLLC website: "Jason's prior political experience also includes serving in the Republican National Committee Counsel's Office, the Dole-Kemp campaign, the 1996 Republican National Convention, and Congressman Herb Bateman's re-election campaign. ... He is a member of the Virginia Bar, the District of Columbia Bar, the Republican National Lawyers Association and the Federalist Society." [HoltzmanVogel PLLC, accessed 9/24/10]
Torchinsky Is On The Faculty Of The Leadership Institute. Torchinsky's bio on The Leadership Institute's Website indicates he is on the faculty. [The Leadership Institute, accessed 9/24/10]
- The Leadership Institute Trains Conservative Activists To Work In Government, Politics, and The Media. From The Leadership Institute's mission statement: "The Leadership Institute's mission is to increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists and leaders in the public policy process. To accomplish this mission, the Institute identifies, recruits, trains, and places conservatives in government, politics, and the media." [The Leadership Institute, accessed 9/27/10]
Torchinsky Has A Habit Of Working With Groups That Make Dishonest Ads
Torchinsky Has Ties To The American Future Fund. From TPM Muckraker:
A shadowy conservative group with ties to the operatives behind a host of GOP dirty tricks is working to undermine state restrictions on political robo-calls, as it gears up to unleash a barrage of such calls in 2010 races.
Last month, American Future Fund Political Action (AFFPA) informed the FEC that it's planning robo-calls in congressional races. Jason Torchinsky, a lawyer for AFFPA, wrote that the group "wishes to distribute pre-recorded telephone calls ... as part of a nationwide program of political outreach." The calls, wrote Torchinsky, "will expressly advocate the election or defeat of one or more clearly identified candidates for Federal office."
[TPM Muckraker, 11/23/09]
TPM: American Future Fund "Has A Reputation For Trafficking In Vicious And Misleading Shots Against Democrats." From TPM Muckraker:
As for AFF itself, the group already has earned a reputation for trafficking in vicious and misleading shots against Democrats. A typical recent ad alleged that the government "planned to give flu shots to detainees at Guantanamo."
It also has worked closely with Dick Armey's FreedomWorks to help promote the Tea Party rallies against health-care reform. Republican heavy-hitters Jan Van Lohuizen, Ed Tobin, Ben Ginsberg are all reportedly involved with the group.
[TPM Muckraker, 11/23/09]
You can review our fact-checks of American Future Fund's many problematic ads HERE.