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Texas AG puts foot down over UN poll watchers in letter to Clinton

In Uncategorized on November 1, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Text of the letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

October 25, 2012

The Honorable
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

Yesterday you received a letter from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) asking that the U.S. Department of State take steps to ensure the OSCE’s election observers are not “restrained in their activities” while in the State of Texas. It appears that OSCE is under the misimpression that the State Department can somehow help its representatives circumvent the Texas Election Code. Texas law prohibits unauthorized persons from entering a polling place—or loitering within 100 feet of a polling place’s entrance—on Election Day. OSCE monitors are expected to follow that law like everyone else.

As you know, Texas election laws govern anyone who participates in Texas elections. The fact that representatives of the United States joined the U.S.S.R, Yugoslavia, Romania, and other OSCE member-nations in signing a document at a 1989 conference in Copenhagen has absolutely no bearing on the administration of elections or laws governing elections in the State of Texas. Yet the OSCE invokes the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document to seek your help ensuring that its representatives are not “restrained” by Texas law. If the OSCE wishes to visit Texas during election season, we welcome the opportunity to educate its representatives about the State’s electoral process. But OSCE is not above the law and its representatives must at all times comply with Texas law when they are present in this state.

While the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document cited in the OSCE letter is legally irrelevant and will have no impact on the State’s administration of the November elections, for the sake of accuracy you should know that the letter misconstrues OSCE’s own governing documents. Indeed, the OSCE claims that requiring its representatives to comply with Texas law somehow contravenes paragraph 8 of the Copenhagen document. That is false.

In fact, paragraph 8 specifically stipulates that OSCE representatives may only observe elections “to the extent allowed by law.” As you know, in the United States that means both state and federal law. The OSCE’s letter states only that its observers are committed to compliance “with all national laws and regulations.” This statement may simply reveal that the OSCE is unfamiliar with our nation’s federalist system. On the other hand, it may reveal that the OSCE does not consider itself restrained by state law. Texas needs OSCE’s assurance that its representatives will abide by Texas law when they are present in this state. We have not received that assurance.

In addition to my desire to defend and enforce Texas election laws, I am also concerned that an unnecessary political agenda may have infected OSCE’s election monitoring activities. The OSCE has published policy recommendations and other reports that raise objections to state laws that prohibit convicted felons from voting, prevent voter registration fraud, and require voters to present a photo identification at the polling place. The OSCE may object to photo identification laws and prohibitions on felons voting—but our nation’s Supreme Court has upheld both laws as entirely consistent with the U.S. Constitution. And perhaps ironically, the OSCE representative leading the mission to the United States hails from the Netherlands, which has a photo identification law for voters. According to the Dutch government’s official website: “checking identity documents helps fight fraud.” Why the OSCE appears to now question voter identification laws in the United States is beyond reason. Perhaps it is just politics. Regardless, the OSCE’s perspective on Voter ID is legally irrelevant in the United States.

Indeed, contrary to the principles of “political pluralism” articulated in the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document, the OSCE has recently coordinated with a number of plainly partisan organizations in the United States. This appears to reflect a concerted effort to politicize an initiative that was previously perceived as an international information exchange program. While Texas may welcome visitors from any nation or international organization who wish to learn more about the steps the State has taken to protect the integrity of state elections, we need not open our doors and accommodate an international effort affiliated with partisan organizations in the United States that wish to suppress electoral integrity.

The case in point is OSCE’s coordination with Project Vote, an overtly partisan organization that was founded by and closely affiliated with ACORN. As you know, ACORN collapsed in the wake of a national voter registration fraud scandal that resulted in multiple criminal prosecutions for violations of state and federal election laws. Just this week, Project Vote boasted that it was advising OSCE on which issues to study—and which states to monitor—this election cycle. In light of Project Vote’s history of voter registration fraud and its more recent failed attempt to enjoin Texas election laws that were enacted to prevent fraud, no legitimate international body would affiliate with Project Vote. Consequently, OSCE’s affiliation with this dubious organization necessarily undermines its credibility and the independence of its election monitors.

Rather than work closely with domestic partisan organizations to advance their shared political agenda, the OSCE should consult the report that President Jimmy Carter and Secretary of State James Baker issued as co-chairmen of the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform. As you know, President Carter is one of the world’s most well-known election monitors. Given President Carter’s experience in this area, it is noteworthy that the report he authored found: “The electoral system cannot inspire confidence if no safeguards exist to deter and detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters.” Apparently the Netherlands agrees with that assessment, which is why the Dutch government similarly requires voters to present a photo identification before casting their ballots.

The United States Constitution authorizes the States to regulate the conduct of state and federal elections within their borders. In Texas, the Legislature has exercised its prerogative to implement laws that preclude felons from voting, prevent groups like Project Vote from questionable voter registration activities, and instill confidence in the electoral system by requiring voters to present a photo identification. While we welcome international visitors who wish to engage in a legitimate information exchange, we have no interest in being lectured by the OSCE about how best to conduct the State of Texas’ business.

Unlike the unelected bureaucrats at the OSCE, our State’s leaders and decision-makers were duly elected by Texas voters. Elected members of the Texas Legislature enacted the Texas Election Code to ensure our State’s elections are free, fair, open, and reliable. The Election Code does not authorize OSCE’s representatives to enter the polling place and nothing in a document that may govern the OSCE’s conduct has any impact—legal or otherwise—on the conduct of elections in the State of Texas. If the OSCE does not wish to follow the laws that govern everyone else present in the State of Texas, including the voters who elect our State’s leaders, then perhaps it should dispatch its representatives to another state.

In closing, I have a simple request: Please work with the OSCE to ensure they agree to comply with Texas law. If they refuse to do so, OSCE’s representatives may be subject to legal consequences associated with any violations of state law.

Sincerely,
Greg Abbott
Attorney General of Texas

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Tea Party of Bradley County says it’s first amendment rights have been violated

In Uncategorized on August 9, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Perilous times are upon our city and county. Basic God given rights are being threatened on a consistent basis.

Our enthroned government has become so presumedly powerful that the general citizenry is now becoming fearful of its entity of government. Any resistance to it’s force is viewed upon as hate speech or being contrary. Defending against tyranny, restoring a lost republic, pursuing life, liberty and happiness is no longer viewed upon as valiant or brave, but pitiful by it’s elected representatives.

Recent actions to limit free speech upon it’s citizens by a runaway government is indicative of the times of the day where citizen participation in matters of freedom are frowned upon.

We have seen government abuse and it is very ugly. The sadness of this reality outweighs the strength of those words.

People are being criminalized and marginalized in Cleveland Tennessee by our elected representatives for portraying the actions set forth by our forefathers which among other subjects gives us the right to free speech.

When, on June 18th, 2012 this mayor and his court took a vital liberty from it’s citizens by passing a resolution 7 to 0 to basically hunt down, expose and imprison law abiding citizens for exercising free speech.

A travesty was committed and a protected innocence taken away by an assembly of men well intended to disperse and quash free speech in Cleveland Tennessee. Feeling threatened by your citizenry for challenging bad policy should never be reprimanded in a public or private setting with freedom stealing resolutions.

Free speech is being perceived as a threat instead of a reassurance of our inalienable rights and the people mocked for exercising our rights.

Let it be known that no entity or establishment of government will stifle, delay, quash or eliminate our most basic right as a free people.

Reverse the recent resolution that took away our rights and replace it with a confirmation of our free speech rights.

Our leaders witnessing this debacle should be standing side by side with the people making these demands. Our leaders should be rallying to the aid of their people being stripped of their rights. Instead, we stand and gaze from a comfortable distance as the slaying ensues.

Where are the supporters of freedom. Shame on any man that adds to our demise by doing nothing. Why are detractors in abundance when it’s people are quashed. This phenomenon may only be realized when our detractors have all our rights in their fists!

Freedom once lost is exactly that, lost!

The only thing that is standing between inprisonment and freedom for its people are these very well written constraints below, that at the moment still rule the land.

United States Constitution, First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
― (United States) Congress

Tennessee State Constitution:

Article 1, § 19. Freedom of speech and press; defamation

That the printing presses shall be free to every person to examine the proceedings of the Legislature; or of any branch or officer of the government, and no law shall ever be made to restrain the right thereof. The free communication of thoughts and opinions, is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. But in prosecutions for the publication of papers investigating the official conduct of officers, or men in public capacity, the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and in all indictments for libel, the jury shall have a right to determine the law and the facts, under the direction of the court, as in other criminal cases.
http://www.tncrimlaw.com/law/constit/I.html#21

Thursday, August 9th, 2012
Bradley County Tea Party says its rights abused

by Randall Higgins
http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/aug/09/tea-party-says-its-rights-abused-tennessee/?local

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Tea Party of Bradley County members are warning the Cleveland City Council not to interfere with their right to free speech.
On June 18, the City Council voted for a resolution supporting a city police investigation into the distribution of leaflets in South Cleveland. The anonymous leaflets, left on doors and porches, warned that a city renewal plan meant taking over about 300 homes in that area and tearing them down.

Alarmed people who contacted City Hall were told that was not true.
After the council’s vote to find out who distributed the leaflets, tea party members came forward and admitted doing so.
Police Chief Wes Snyder sent a memo to the council, stating there were no criminal violations and that the tea party members’ right to speak could not be restrained.

On Monday, attorney Stuart James, on behalf of the Tea Party of Bradley County, sent a warning letter to the council and announced he wants to address its members at their next meeting Monday.
“As you know, political free speech is protected by the Tennessee and United States constitutions,” James wrote in the letter. “Although free speech is not an absolute right, free speech is protected. Moreover, free speech is protected from retaliatory actions by governmental bodies, such as the City Council. “Therefore, any resolution attempting to undermine those rights is in and of itself, constitutionally suspect. Moreover, the City Council may have exceeded its authority and may have violated the Constitution of the United States of America and the Tennessee Constitution attempting to pass a resolution designed to stop the exercise of free speech.”

Donny Harwood, president of the Tea Party of Bradley County, said Wednesday the group is being proactive.

“That’s a great portion of what we do, getting information to the public,” he said. “We can let them trample on our right to free speech or we can take a stand.”

Mayor Tom Rowland said Wednesday the city has no response, but James is welcome to speak to the council.

“We did receive the letter,” he said. “There were some inaccuracies in it.”

The county, Cleveland and Charleston hired a consultant to look at growth potential through 2035 and a batch of proposals came out of that study, but no final plan has been suggested or discussed.
There may be future opposition to the renewal plan, as well, James wrote in the letter.
“Any actions by the City Council to quash or quell free speech will be met with the appropriate response to enforce and protect the rights of individuals and organizations to exercise their free speech,” the letter stated.
James asked the council to repeal the previous resolution and adopt instead a resolution calling for protection of free speech in Cleveland.

Rowland routinely invites anyone not on the council’s meeting agenda to comment at the beginning of the official sessions. The council meets Monday at 1 p.m. for a work session and at 3 p.m. for its official voting session.

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