A potentially significant new twist in the debate over that alleged 'list of potential non citizen voters' that was released in January, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
E-mails obtained by the League of United Latin American Citizens allegedly show ties between the now discredited list and Gov. Abbott's office, according to LULAC attorney Luis Vera.
"The bottom line is, this was the governor's program, it was nobody else's," Vera said.
"All of the e-mails show that the governor was specifically ordering the Department of Public Safety to send him the data."
The list contained the names of 96,000 people whose names were on the voter rolls in counties across the state who the Secretary of State's office claimed 'may not be U.S. citizens.' It helpfully indicated that 51,000 of those people had cast ballots in elections dating back to 2008.
The release of the list sparked an outcry among conservatives, with even President Trump declaring in a tweet that it was proof of widespread voter fraud, with illegal immigrants flocking to the polls to cast ballots in Texas.
Secretary of State David Whitley urged voter registrars to investigate and remove from the rolls people who are ineligible to vote.
But Democrats smelled a rat from the beginning, and after a minimal amount of investigation, reported that the list was of people who were not citizens when they obtained the documentation, usually a drivers license, that they later used to comply with the state's Voter ID law, and that the documentation had been obtained as far back as 1996.
Vera argued that 50,000 people are naturalized every year, which means that all of the individuals on the list likely became U.S. citizens in the 12 years between they first obtained their driver's license and they cast their first ballot. He also pointed out that the people on the list were clearly not illegal immigrants, but were non citizens legally in the U.S., probably on work or school visas, because illegal immigrants cannot obtain drivers licenses in Texas.
“These e-mails show that last February, March, and April that the governor was requesting this date,” Vera said.
That would have been several months before Whitley released the list. Whitley suffered the backlash, and his confirmation as Secretary of State was denied by the State Senate, prompting him to resign.
But Vera points out that Whitley was immediately hired by Abbott as a top assistant, at a salary of $205,000, far more than he made as Secretary of State.
“David Whitley was thrown under the bus,” Vera said. “This was not his program, he worked in the governor’s office.”
Vera and other Democrats say this is evidence that the release of the list was an effort calculated by Republicans to try to suppress minority voters who are likely to vote Democrat, and say the plan was put into motion in January, right after Democrats made major gains in the 2018 elections in Texas. They say the e-mails show that Abbott was behind the list, and indicate that this shows that Republicans at the highest levels are trying to intimindate and deter Democrats from voting in the 2020 election.
The governor’s office said in a statement that the claims are ‘patently false’ and ‘neither the governor nor his office initiated the request’ from the DPS for the information that went into the list.