Emails (excerpted), Matt Angle, director, Lone Star Project, July 26-30, 2013
This is one where Abbott has pretty much bragged about the very thing we claim:
· He used federal Byrne Grant money to fund his so-called Voter Fraud Unit.
· He used the money to prosecute (and sometimes harassing by lurking around their house peeping in their windows) a number of Latino and AA senior citizens.
In order to use the Byrne Grant money for this purpose, he had to ask for seek a waiver, because the funding is intended for use in prosecuting other crimes – including finding, tracking and prosecuting online sexual predators.
To: Gardner Selby
From: Matt Angle
Re: Abbott Phony Voter Fraud Task Force
Date: July 26, 2013
I don’t think this is a close call. The statement is more charitable than Abbott deserves.
I’ve pasted below and attached quite a bit of information that makes clear that Greg Abbott used Byrne Grant funds that are intended for law enforcement purposes that include enforcing cyberlaws, drug law enforcement, child sexual assault and abuse and many other thing but NOT investigation of alleged voter fraud. The Byrne Grant Funds were provided to Abbot by the Governor’s office, after Abbot got a waiver to use them for voter fraud.
The documents provided include:
A series of Lone Star Projects that expose Abbott’s phony voter fraud efforts.
Official descriptions of how Byrne grants should be used.
News stories citing Abbott’s harassment of elderly citizens.
Examples of how other jurisdictions use Byrne Grant $.
As is documented clearly, he prosecuted a number of elderly minority Texans nearly all of whom violated no law but were simply helping other seniors go through the process of voting by mail. His investigation sunk to the level of harassment, particularly when he sent agents to the home of an elderly women in Fort Worth. They lurked around her house and looked through her bathroom window as she was stepping out of the shower. The woman was interrogated but never charged with any crime.
The overall voter fraud investigation was a boondoggle. Abbott found NO uncovered of organized or widespread voter fraud. His effort ended, and over $1 million that could have been spent on legitimate law enforcement, was squandered – except for the political benefit Abbott received from frightening and intimidating minority Texans.
Lone Star Project Reports
5/18/2006 Texas AG Wastes Crime Fighting Funds on Ineffective Biased Program
PDF – May 18 2006 Report.pdf (Attached)
“According to the U.S. Justice Department, federal Byrne Grants are intended to help states combat serious crimes such as drug trafficking, cyber crimes, child sexual abuse and child pornography. An eight-page Department of Justice document titled “Byrne Formula Purpose Areas” describes 29 specific areas of law enforcement and crime prevention that qualify for Byrne Grant assistance. There is no specific mention or reference to voter fraud or election law enforcement anywhere in the DOJ document. (Source: https://www.bja.gov/ProgramDetails.aspx?Program_ID=59) However, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, with the approval of Governor Rick Perry, has dipped heavily into a $1.4 million federal Byrne Grant crime fighting fund to concentrate on voter fraud rather than violent crime prevention and enforcement.” (Source: https://www.oag.state.tx.us/alerts/alerts_view.php?id=128&type=3)
9/21/2006 - AG Abbott Steps Up Harassment and Suppression Efforts, Abbott Agents Caught Spying on Senior Citizen Lone Star Project Supports Legal Challenge to Abbott
11/16/2006 – Brass Knuckles for Minority Seniors, Kid Gloves for Highland Park, Abbott slow walks ballot tampering investigation in exclusive GOP community
5/2/2008 – Texas AG Abbott Settles Vote Suppression Case, Terms favor Plaintiffs
5/22/2008 – Greg Abbott
5/28/2008 - Abbott Vote Suppression Goes on Trial, Major Texas newspapers Blast Abbott, East Texas Federal Court will hear challenge to flawed Texas law
HTML: 2008-05-28.html (Attached)
5/31/2009 – Is Texas AG Part of New Voter Scam? Greg Abbott withheld suspicious documents from State Legislators
9/23/2006 - Texas Democrats File Suit Against Voting Fraud Law
New York Times
4/18/2008 – Vote by Mail, Go to Jail
The Texas Observer
PDF: “TX Observer – Vote by Mail Go to Jail.pdf”
“"Voter fraud has been epidemic in Texas for years, but it hasn't been treated like one. It's time for that to change," Abbott said. Continuing, he announced the formation of a new "Special Investigations Unit [that] will help police departments, sheriff's offices, and district and county attorneys successfully identify, investigate, and prosecute various types of voter fraud offenses." The release said Gov. Rick Perry, a fellow Republican, was supporting the effort with a $1.5 million grant.
The funding was provided under an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Grant, which is a federal program providing criminal justice money to states. It was a Byrne grant in 1999 that funded Tom Coleman, the itinerant police investigator who falsely accused many African-American residents of Tulia of dealing cocaine. During subsequent legal battles that lasted four years, Coleman was exposed as a liar and Gov. Perry pardoned almost all of his victims. In 2004, Congress said the Byrne grants could be used for broader categories of law enforcement, giving states new leeway in deciding how the funds could be spent. Like the drug task forces that falsely accused minorities to run up arrest numbers and thus justify funding, Abbott's use of the money to pursue voter fraud among the states minority communities seems to carry ulterior motives beyond ferreting out alleged individual crimes.”
5/18/2008 - BALLOT-BOX SCRUTINY AG fails to uncover major voting fraud Abbott saw epidemic, but prosecuted only 26 cases - all Dems
Dallas Morning News
PDF – “DMN – Ballot Box Scrutiny.pdf” (Attached)
“More than two years ago, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott pledged to root out what he called an epidemic of voter fraud in Texas.
He established a special unit in his office, tapped a $1.4 million federal crime-fighting grant and dispatched investigators.
Since then, Mr. Abbott has prosecuted 26 cases - all against Democrats, and almost all involving blacks or Hispanics, a review by The Dallas Morning News shows.
The cases usually have resulted in small fines and little or no jail time, and for all the extra attention, Mr. Abbott has not unraveled any large-scale schemes with the potential to swing elections.”
6/9/2008 – Democrats use voter fraud allegations as rallying point
Dallas Morning News
PDF: “DMN - Democrats Use Voter Fraud Allegations.pdf” (Attached)
11/1/2008 – Judge orders state to stop prosecuting part of state law
PDF: “AP – Judge orders.pdf” (Attached)
“A federal judge ordered Attorney General Greg Abbott to stop prosecuting Texans who help elderly and disabled voters cast their mail-in ballots…Since 2003, Abbott's office has indicted 13 people for voter fraud. All of them had Democratic voting records and 12 were either black or Hispanic. The office investigates such cases when they receive complaints from other entities, including William's office.”
Byrne Grant Background Information
PDF – Byrne Application.pdf (Attached)
PDF – Byrne Questionnaire.pdf (“Attached)
“Please select all relevant purpose areas. Check all that apply.
A. ____ Law Enforcement
B. ____ Prosecution, Court, Defense and Indigent Defense
C.____ Prevention and Education
D.____ Corrections and Community Corrections
E. ____ Drug Treatment and Enforcement
F. ____ Planning, Evaluation, and Technology Improvement
G.____ Crime Victim and Witness Protection”
Grant Purpose Area Descriptions
“The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. 3711 et seq., at section 501, provides a general statement of the overall purposes of the Byrne Grant Program and establishes 26 purpose areas that define the nature and scope of programs and projects that might be funded under it. Three other purpose areas have since been added. Frequently, Congress also uses other legislation (e.g., an appropriations bill) to provide additional authorizations for limited periods (usually the current year only). Together, these laws provide substantial authorization for programs addressing drug control, violent and serious crime, all aspects of criminal justice processing including incarceration and treatment of offenders, and general improvements in the justice system operations”
“(18) Improving the criminal and juvenile justice system’s response to domestic and family violence, including spouse abuse, child abuse, and abuse of the elderly.
-Domestic/Family Violence Intervention
-Law Enforcement’s Response to Domestic Violence
-Child Abuse Prosecution
-Child Sexual Abuse Prevention and Prosecution
-Crimes Against the Elderly (in domestic settings; see also purpose area 4)”
2/8/2008 - “Heritage Foundation: Don’t Burn the Byrne Grants”
List of Texas Byrne Grants 2009-2013:
List of Byrne Grants 2005-2006:
AG Voter Fraud Press Release:
“Officers from the SIU, working through a $1.5 million grant from the Governor’s office, have been visiting key counties across the state to conduct voter fraud training for law enforcement.”
We have not found any other instance of a state using Bryne Grant money for Voter Fraud investigation.
They didn’t just react to referrals, they proactively investigated (for example Gloria meeks intimidation).
They conducted a full trial for goodness sake in Texarkana that they ultimately had to settle because they could not convict.
$100K is absolutely not credible.
I have attached a document that includes details of Texarkana case and includes Wayne Slater’s story using the $1.4 million figure.
Abbott has not earned the benefit of doubt on any matter related to race. Remember, just last year the DC Federal Court found his arguments on race “not credible” and ruled that Texas (with Greg Abbott as their counsel) intentionally discriminated against Texas citizens.
From: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin) [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, July 29, 2013 11:34 AM
To: Matt Angle
Subject: RE: Information on Abbott's Voter Fraud Byrne Grant Funding
I was familiar with those news stories.
You attached a June 2012 memo about the Byrne fund. Do you know if the fund’s focuses have changed since the year the Texas AG spent money from it?
Questions 10 and 28 on that 2012 document list ways money could be spent, it appears. Each one also has an “other” choice. Any reason voting investigations couldn’t or wouldn’t fit that category?
You mention a waiver. By who or what? Would that have been legal at the time?
Separately, the OAG says less than $100,000 was spent on investigations touched off by referrals. I am reviewing some materials spokesman Jerry Strickland sent over.
W. Gardner Selby
Follow us on Twitter/@PolitiFactTexas and like us on Facebook/PoiltiFactTexas
Follow me on Twitter/@gardnerselby
it’s in his own press releases (see link below). If you search his own press releases at the time, you will see that he was bragging to everyone that would listen that they would using over $1 million to combat voter fraud. Which he did. They aggressively investigated and prosecuted a number of elder citizens – they just didn’t find any significant voter fraud. Obviously, to anyone but the naïve, spent A LOT of money on the effort.
“Officers from the SIU, working through a $1.5 million grant from the Governor’s office, have been visiting key counties across the state to conduct voter fraud training for law enforcement. Included among these counties are the 14 where my office has previously investigated or prosecuted alleged election code violations. In addition to the ones mentioned above, the list includes Comal, Floyd, Harris, Hidalgo, Jim Wells, Parker, Robertson, Tarrant and Waller.”
As for the Byrne Grant funds, it’s my understanding that the uses for the funds has been expanded in the Obama Administration. That said, I can find no incidence of anyone other than Abbott using the money for Voter Fraud investigation for enforcement. The Byrne Grand $ is administered through the Governor’s office. They have to sign off on uses.
On Jul 29, 2013 1:41 PM, "Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)" <email@example.com> wrote:
The unit was funded by the full grant, it appears to me, but it also had multiple other duties. Make sense?
Only now, after the effort blew up in his face, is Abbott claiming any use for the funds other than Voter Fraud. For anyone to infer a use other than voter fraud, they had to disbelieve Abbott when he was sending out press released using the $1 mil plus figure. He should not be allowed to have it both ways.
From: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin) [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, July 29, 2013 6:15 PM
To: Matt Angle
Subject: RE: two more references to $1.5 mil from Abbott himself
I have yet to field anything showing Byrne money cannot be spent on investigating voter cases, unless I missed a document perhaps?
You did provide the 2012 U.S. Department of Justice questionnaire lists performance measures for the Bureau of Justice Assistance Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. Question No. 10 lists about 15 possible programs an entity could implement, expand or sustain with the aid including alcohol/tobacco enforcement, child abuse investigations, domestic violence enforcement, equipment, gang-related actions, sexual offender/predator tracking and traffic enforcement. Voter fraud is not listed, but “Other” is a choice with space provided for elaboration.
Right now, there is no evidence of a diversion of any amount of money.
We did not say it COULD NT be used for voter fraud. What is clear is that Byrne $ has not been used by other jurisdictions for voter fraud and voter fraud is not mentioned in any of the department resources as a practical use of Byrne grant money. It is, in our view, an improper use of Byrne Grant money. It shows that Abbott would rather use scarce federal funds to investigate, prosecute and harass senior citizens to create the illusion of widespread voter fraud than to use the funds for to prosecute drug crimes, cyber crimes, child abuse.
Rather than missing a document, you are discounting the documents that confirm our central point. You appear to be fact checking a claim we did not make. We did not claim Abbott his broken any laws or rules. We are criticizing him for his priorities. He did in fact seek and receive permission from the Governor to use a Byrne $ of over $1 million according to his own press releases to fund a voter fraud effort where he investigated, harassed and prosecuted seniors – THAT is our claim, and it clearly checks out. If you are looking for something else, you are not fairly checking our claim.
On Jul 31, 2013 6:08 PM, "Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)" <email@example.com> wrote:
So, it looks to us like the AG’s office spent less than $100,000 in Byrne money on the voter investigations, as the Statesman reported in 2009.
I am familiar with the Texas Observer story and the Morning News stories on the investigations and lawsuit settlement. Is there anything else you’re aware of related to the project’s recent statement that the money was spent harassing elderly Texans helping others with mail-in ballots? Could you forward a copy of the lawsuit and settlement? Are there relevant transcripts of depositions and the like?
The information is in the reports sent to you.
It is ridiculous to discount our use of the $1 m + figure given that Abbott used 1.5mil in his own releases.