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Attorney General Pam Bondi defends Florida’s voter purge on Fox News

It took us a couple days to get our hands on the video, but we finally were able to track down Attorney General Pam Bondi’s interview from Tuesday with Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly. The topic was the Department of Justice’s objection to the timing of Florida’s voter purge. Foreshadowing Gov. Rick Scott’s defiant response, Bondi defended the state’s actions and criticized the Department of Homeland Security for refusing to share its immigration database.

 

Here is a transcript of Bondi’s interview, with Kelly’s questions and comments (paraphrased in itallics):

Why does the Department of Justice care enough to weigh in on Florida’s actions? “You know, Megyn, that’s a great question because wouldn’t you think despite what party we are, what ethnicity, what race, we should we all want fair elections? Because every single person who votes illegally nullifies a legal vote.”

Critics say Florida’s actions are messing with legitimate voters, harassing people, targeting Hispanics and aimed to benefit Republicans. How do you respond? “And this is a (Florida) Department of State issue. I’m not technically involved in it.”

(Kelly interjects) Bondi will likely be asked to weigh in as the state’s chief law enforcement officer. “Yes, I have a feeling I will be. But let me try to explain what the Department of State has done. And they didn’t want to do that. That is exactly right. You don’t want to start sending out these letters to the wrong people. So last September, they went to Homeland Security and said, ‘Hey, you have these lists. You have access to the federal immigration list. Give us these lists. Let’s work together so that doesn’t happen.’ And they became obstructionist and they refused to work with the state of Florida.”

Who did? “The federal government, Homeland Security. They refused to give these lists (and) work with the state of Florida. And so that’s how all this came about.”

Now the Department of Justice says the purge is too close to the primary, but Florida is saying that is because Homeland Security was stonewalling. “They stonewalled the Department of State back in September. They’ve been working towards this goal and again this should be something that we should all, every American, should want fair voting rights. The only people that should vote should be legal.”

Democrats say they are concerned about disenfranchisement. Republicans are concerned about voter fraud and cleaning the roles. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has objected to voter ID laws in various states. How do you resolve this from a legal standpoint? “Florida, we’re going to keep fighting. We have Gov. Rick Scott. He’s tough. He believes in what we’re doing. The Department of State, we are at a stonewall right now.”

(Kelly interjects) The state is currently at a loss. “It is right now because we are stonewalled right now. But my words to the Department of Justice are, ‘Shouldn’t we all want legal people to vote and not illegal people?’ And that’s what’s happening. And it shouldn’t matter what party you are.”

Did the federal government accomplish its goal of shutting down Florida’s purge? Are you stuck between now and November or can this get resolved? “Well, I hope so. I know the Department of State, they’re still asking Homeland Security to work with them and we’re going to see if that’s going to happen.”

Democrats who have objected say legitimate voters could be disenfranchised. Is there something to that argument and should Florida tread lightly? “I do believe you need to tread lightly in that you need to be accurate. You don’t need to be sending all these people letters and scaring them if they are registered voters. And that is what the state of Florida was trying to accomplish by working with Homeland Security.”

(Kelly interjects) The list would help the state identify people who are illegally on the voter roll. “Exactly, and going through that first before sending out all these letters.”

Is Florida entitled to this Homeland Security database? “I think we absolutely should be. I think they should work with us because again as attorney general of the state of Florida, I find it very frustrating, I think every American should find it very frustrating, and troubling that they don’t. I want to work with our state to ensure that the proper people vote.”

In November, if this issue is not resolved, what remedy will there but if it is discovered that a number of illegal or illegitimate voters did in fact vote? “We’re going to see what happens between now and then. I want to be very careful what I say now, but I’ll tell ya look at (the year) 2000. That race was way less than 1,000 votes, Megyn.”

Comments

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Can't take anymore

Pam will just open the Florida checkbook for insider Republican lawyers to litigate in behalf of the most recent Rick Scott outrage. No price is too great to fight to the last courtroom in defense of his orders from ALEC and the Koch Brothers. Apparently Pam has absolutely no lawyers in the Office of The State Attorney who are skilled enough to handle this and similar cases of Scott's constant over reaching. Just lay off some more teachers and prison guards to pay for it.

Seth Platt

Republicans are pulling every trick in the book they can to disenfranchise voters and make it harder for Floridians to cast ballots because it favors the outcomes they prefer.
It is undemocratic, unAmerican, and repugnant.
Telling citizens who fought in World War II to prove they are citizens is a slap in the face.
Compound that with the impossibility of getting or renewing your drivers license given the onerous amounts of documents now required it is clear that Republicans are happy to ensure those without the means do not have an opportunity to participate in our Democracy.

ML_EngAmer

This kind of ongoing shenanigans is just one more symptom. This country is fractured and all of these factions just make it worse. No majority of major players is willing to work together to save the baby (America). That is the problem. Everyone is so busy looking out for number one that the U.S. as a whole is falling apart. It is really that simple.

Almost everyone is at fault and there are so many trying to point fingers that everyone is afraid to make the first move in taking some responsibility. If you watch the news reel above, you will notice that at one point, the sideline highlights show that 2600 some-odd illegitimate voters may be on the polls. 2600 voters are not the issue and trying to make that such a major focus just detracts from dealing with real problems.

Carol

How could anyone be against purging the lists of illegal voters? Who wants illegals voting??? It is a no-brainer. It must be done!!! More bold and upright good work by Rick Scott!!

Robert

what voter fraud is this imbecile trying to eliminate? We don't have any. he just wants the voting to be done by white middle aged anglo saxons.voter fraud hasn't been a problem. only problem has been the republicans cheating(withholding dem votes and counting rep votes many times over. i always wonder how they get away with it.

Robert

what all americans would really like is for pam to have a higher I Q. then we wouldn't have to be sickened anymore reading crap like this.

Purge Rick

"Shouldn’t we all want legal people to vote and not illegal people?"

Sure Pam, but why not check the validity at the time of registration? Why the 11th hour purge? If you were truly interested in fairness, you would be doing the check at the beginning of the process. Why let those who are not eligible on the list in the first place?

David Kearns

"I would rather kill ten friends, to get perhaps one enemy among them who escaped me." Saddam Hussein.

This is Rick Scot's logic in purging legitimate voters in Florida; 87 percent happen to be democrats, minorities and young people.

David Kearns

And, Pam's logic is essentially, 'because we didn't get what we wanted from the feds, we just began purging people willy-nilly, knowing our list was screwed up.....and this is all Obama's fault!'

I think David Byrne of Talking Heads said it best "same as it ever was, same as it ever was."

Terry


The Civil Rights of ex-felons must be earned.

Governor Scott and Pam Bondi are not saying that ex-felons should not have a second chance but should only have longer waiting periods and that they need to earn their civil rights back. What is the criteria for earning these rights back? It must be very high and out of reach for them because most are not winning their rights back. Do you know how many tax paying citizens there are who have completed due process and are still waiting to have their cases reviewed? There are approximately a million in Florida. Do you know how many ex-felons had their rights restored by the Florida’s Executive Board of Clemency last year? There were only 78. This is not even scratching the surface in overcoming this problem. There is approximately a two year backlog on reviewing these cases and they are falling further and further behind each year. I do not think their true agenda is to give these men and women a second chance in rejoining society as full citizens. One strike and you are out it appears in Florida. The other 47 states in this country restore civil rights to their citizens after due process has been completed. Gov. Scott and Pam Bondi seem to think differently.
Between 35,000 to 38,000 inmates are admitted to Florida prisons each year by the most current estimates and nearly the same number are released each year. With only 78 former felons having their civil rights restored this past year, you do the math. At this rate we will have an exponential growing number of these men and women living, working, and paying their taxes as second class citizens. We have a new class of people emerging in our nation that are a subclass, in all intense and purposes, in comparison with our upper, middle and poor classes. Our current system of justice in Florida has created this. Our subclass, which is now approximately a million and growing, cannot vote, hold higher paying jobs of their choice, hold many occupational licenses or live in many common areas of their choosing. These choices have been taken away and withheld from them long after due process has been served. Their families suffer right along side of them. According to our Florida politicians this is not discrimination. If you did not know better you would think that I was talking about a different country. Can these things actually be happening in America? This is one of the reasons we lead the world in the number of its citizens that are incarcerated. China, with four times our population, does not even come close to the U.S. These numbers are increasing at an alarming rate and until people start to stand up and take notice and do something about it this will continue to escalate. A historian and moralist Lord Acton once said that “Absolute Power corrupts absolutely”. Earl Chatham, former Prime Minister of England from 1766 to 1786, went on to say, “Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it”. You may ask yourself, how can someone be punished beyond that which a judge and often times a jury has passed down in a sentence that has a beginning and an end? The answer is, because they can. If we are suppose to have separation of powers among our branches of government in this country of our Executive, Legislative and our Judicial branches then what is Governor Scott doing crossing over into the judicial arena and adding on to due process after it has been handed down by a court of law, served and completed by an individual? In an Autocracy there are no such divisions. Is this the direction our country is headed? Can’t anyone else see this? If Florida is to move forward in its position on restoring civil rights to those who have paid the price by completing due process it must remove obstructionist politicians by voting them out of office such as Governor Rick Scott along with Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam from office. Their obstructionist politics runs counter to what most of our nation believes in and that is to ensure every American has the opportunity to live free from oppression as a full citizen of this great nation with the civil rights guaranteed there in. Every human being deserves a second chance in life. This is what our country stands for. Our forefathers came to this country to escape persecution and to have that second chance. We are known as the land of the free by other countries. The legacy of these politicians will be written in history for all to see and judge someday. Truth always rises to the forefront with the passing of time. Abraham Lincoln said it best. He has left a standing legacy that still rings true today. He said, “I have always found that mercy bares richer fruit than strict justice”. He helped to heal a wounded nation that was torn apart by civil war. Our country’s freedoms were not free but came at a great price and we continue to pay that price to live free still today. If President Lincoln had not extended a hand of mercy to the men and women that had turned against this country we might still be living as a divided nation. Some have learned from this great lesson and some have not. Do not let petty politics divide this country again. Do not burn the bridge of forgiveness that someday you yourself may have to cross. We are all in this race together, the human race. The poet Alexander Pope put this into perspective by writing, “To err is human; to forgive, is divine. Now the torch is passed to this generation. What will you do with it?
For more information please visit www.aarcr.org

Terry

They fought for us.
Can’t we fight for them?

American Veterans embody the principles of which America was founded more than 235 years ago. America is founded on the principles of freedom, justice and liberty for all. We as veterans, served with the belief that democracy, freedom and civil liberties should be held up around the world as well as here at home. Veterans have answered the call of our nation and served to help protect our country and its freedoms because we know that freedom is never free but comes with great sacrifice and a price. We have put our lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we all benefit from. Many of our friends never came home and paid the ultimate price. Then there are those who made it home and some in our ranks have fallen and failed in their communities. They have broken the law and have had to answer for their lapse of good judgment. We are all subject to the same laws in our country and we must abide by them and their authority, but when any law places a yoke upon even a small portion of its citizens rather than serving to help restore and protect them, then our liberty as a whole and as a united nation becomes fractured. Military veterans, who have been convicted of a felony, make up a significant portion of our disenfranchised American citizens. There are approximately over 650,000 veterans across the country that are unable to vote and are having difficulty finding work as a result of felony convection. This is roughly one in eight disenfranchised citizens that is a veteran. A great many of these disenfranchised veterans are in the state of Florida and their requests to have their rights restored after due process continues to go unanswered. Hilda L. Solis, our U.S. Labor Secretary said, “For veterans who have been incarcerated, a good job goes a long way to aid in rehabilitation”. She goes on to say, “Stable employment helps ex offenders stay out of the legal system. Focusing on that end is the right thing to do for these individuals and it makes sense for local communities and our economy as a whole”. These are great words but only words until the numbers of our disenfranchised veterans in our ranks that are unemployed begin to go down. The U.S. Department of Labor sat aside $11.7 million in grant money for the purpose of providing an employment centered approach to reintegration and long term labor market prospects for ex offenders. Compare this with the approximate 74 billion dollars our country spends in maintaining and growing our correctional system. The lack of employment has been found to be one of the leading causes of recidivism. Ex felons, who served in our armed forces to help protect these rights are now being denied these very rights in the name of justice. Justice without a certain balance of mercy is oppression and this is not what our country represents. The politics that are at work here is undermining the very fabric in which makes our nation great. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave. We are the land of opportunity and yes of second chances. Freedom without the freedom to make a mistake is not really freedom. For most of these veterans our government, with its current laws, will not offer this second chance them. Many have had their civil rights taken away for life. History has shown that we have treated many of our nation’s enemies better than this. What more is there for these veterans to do? They have paid their debt to society and due process has been served. Restoring their rights as an American citizen is the right thing to do.
For more information on voter rights please visit www.aarcr.org

Liberty27

Our country is changing at such a rapid pace and not for the better.

We talk of voter fraud but what about the nearly one million tax paying citizens who have completed their contracts handed down to them by a court of law by completing due process and are still being denied the right to vote in Florida? Florida has some of the harshest disenfranchisement laws for voters in the country. The other 47 states in our country restore these rights after completion of sentence. Gov Scott and Pam Bondi have extended this disenfranchisement to last a live time for most of these men and women. Only 78 had their rights restored last year by the Florida Executive Board of Clemency. Their agenda is not to help these men and women, who served their time, get reestablished back into their communities. They must continue to struggle as second class citizens along with their families’ right along side of them.

I have always loved history. It was always my favorite subject in high
school and college. I have always felt that if we failed to learn from the lessons that history teaches us we are bound to repeat the same mistakes. Our founding fathers established a government that they wanted to stand the test of time. By forming our Constitution grounded on moral Christian truths and values of the ages was perfect. They knew that these truths were constant and will never change. Our constitution is being eroded and watered down by today's moral decay. Some politicians down through the centuries have always bent to the popular demands of the people of their day. We have a silent majority in this country that I believe can turn this around.

I am passionate about civil rights. I served to help defend those rights in the military when my country put out the call for service. I see our freedoms and liberties that are supposed to be protected by our constitution not being preserved. Many are saying that this document is outdated and should be revised or even replaced. If we are not diligent in protecting these freedoms they can be taken away from us. Freedom is not free but comes with a price. My website www.aarcr.org is meant to open up a dialogue about what is currently happening in our country. Every year the number of Americans that are being disenfranchised as American citizens is increasing. We are not addressing the root problems of this rise but only putting people away for awhile as a fix all and not trying to help them get reestablished after they have paid their debt to society. The problem for these men and women started in the family but we can help to reeducate and rehabilitate these individuals at a far lower cost and help to give them a new lease on life. Our country spent over $74 billion dollars last year in growing our correctional system. This system is broke. There is a better way. It is sad to say that we were not all created equal in how we were raised as a child. A good many were brought up in broken homes and dysfunctional families and had to fend for themselves because the parent was either to busy working to pay the bills or just did not care. There is something terribly wrong with this. There is a better way. Put them away and throw away the key I have heard some say. When this hits closer to home I do not believe they will be feeling this way. This is what I believe to be true:

Justice without serving a function is oppression.
Punishment without serving a purpose is persecution.

Our justice system in this country is broke and in need of major repairs. Our country has become addicted to incarceration. This has become the fix all for everything. Our United States has the highest incarceration numbers in the world. As of 2011 we had 2.3 million men and women behind bars according to the International Center for Prison Studies. In comparison China has four times our population and is a distant second with 1.6 million people behind bars and we lecture them on human rights. Our next generation has some urgent decisions to make. Do we continue down this road of statues quo or do we get back to the basics of what our constitution represents?

The Brave men and women who went before us dedicated their lives that our nation remains free from tyranny and continue to be established as a government of the people, by the people and for the people; that the civil rights and civil liberties of its citizens be protected under our nation’s constitution. These decisions will establish the future legacy of our great nation. Do you want to part of the solution or do you want to just sit back and complain about the results of a failing system? Contact your congressman and demand a change. Help us restore democracy and civil rights for all Americans by reestablishing our a government of the people, by the people and for the people in that these rights continue to be protected in spite of race, color, gender or previous condition of penal servitude. Every human being deserves a second chance, a fair chance at living free from persecution and oppression. You may be just one voice but together we are strong; undivided and united we will be heard.
www.aarcr.org

Liberty27

In the second paragraph of our Declaration of Independence it states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is sad to say that this is just not true. These are beautiful and inspiring words in our declaration but only words. It gives us great comfort to think that we are all living in a country where equality for every man, woman and child is a reality but it is not. A great number of the men and women in our country did not have the same opportunities as others. They were brought up in broken homes and dysfunctional families. Their parents, or in many cases parent, were just not available to the degree that a growing child needed. Most were left without the proper guidance and left to fend for themselves. This has been a sad but very real growing trend in America. Circumstances like these often times lead to getting in trouble with the law and getting caught up into our justice and Correctional System. Do not let that title correctional fool you. There is nothing correctional about this system. It is simply a holding tank that has become very profitable for private correction corporations like the CCA who by the way are fighting several lawsuits filed against them in court as we speak. Our correctional system is broken and does very little to correct these men, women and adolescent offenders. The average rate of recidivism in the country is over 30%. The recidivism rate, according to Florida’s own DOC figures in May 10, 2010, was 51.8%. These men and women are being recycled again and again back through the system because of lack of opportunity. Is this justice? Just put them away and throw away the key many are saying. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but this is simply not morally just and is not working. The number of the disenfranchised continues to grow astronomically. Florida has some of the harshest disenfranchisement policies in the country and is home to nearly one fifth of the 5.5 million disenfranchised men and women that no longer have the right of an American citizen. They pay their taxes but are just not allowed to participate in government. Kind of reminds me of the Boston Tea Party, “Taxation without representation.” This is in part why the U.S. leads the rest of the world in prison population. In 2007 the U.S. had less than 5% of the world’s population and 23.4% of the world’s prison and jail population according to the New York Times. This is 743 per 100,000 people. As of 2011 we currently had approximately 2.3 million people behind bars according to the International Center for Prison Studies. In comparison China has four times our population and is a distant second with 1.6 million people in prison. In 2011 our country spent $74 billion on growing and maintaining our correctional system and we keep throwing more money into a system that is broken and not producing the results that we need. A smaller prison population results in a larger number of productive American citizens that will make us a stronger nation. There is a better way to achieve this. It has been documented more than once that when an ex-felon has been restored as a full citizen that the recidivism is cut nearly in half. We can put more of a focus on funding reeducation, rehabilitation and reintegration programs that will produce a lower prison population in the short term. Currently the money we spend on these programs are just a drop in the bucket compared to the $74 billion. We have become a country addicted to incarceration. We use a prison sentence as a fix all solution and it is not getting the job done. Anyone can see this. Helping others get a new lease on life is the right thing to do. Every human being deserves a second chance at living free as a contributing member of society. The human spirit was not created to live in bondage. Now is the time to call or write your congressman and tell them that you are sick and tired of seeing your money being wasted on a system that is failing. It is time for some bold and new decisions to be made so we can turn the corner on a runaway prison population and disenfranchised community in this country. We can do this. Are we not as our National Anthem describes us as “the land of the free and the home of the brave”?
www.aarcr.org

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