Today we learned that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has pulled out of his scheduled appearance as a featured speaker at the True the Vote Ohio State Summit. Husted’s withdrawal comes after Voting Rights Watch 2012 released an investigative report about the dangerous far-right-wing network that True the Vote built itself into, and its record of drawing voter intimidation complaints.
On Wednesday, August 22, True the Vote put out a press release stating that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was participating in their Ohio State Summit as a featured speaker, alongside True the Vote right-wing extremist affiliate Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, who says President Obama stole the 2008 election with fraudulent votes and plans to do it again this year with the “illegal alien vote” and votes from a “food stamp army.” Husted was scheduled to speak at approximately 1:15 pm, right before Fitton.
The following day, Voting Rights Watch published the story “How the Right’s Building Its ‘Poll-Watcher’ Network for November,” which shows how True the Vote has been able to expand its influence since its start as a small Tea Party Patriot group in Houston just three years ago. A few days before that, The Nation published a report from Ari Berman about how Husted set new early voting rules that upheld the elimination of the weekend before Election Day, including the Sunday that black churches used in past elections for their “souls to the polls” campaign, which helped increase black voter turnout. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow featured both stories in her Thursday night news segment on True the Vote. The next day, Voting Rights Watch 2012’s Brentin Mock was featured on MSNBC’s Politics Nation with Rev. Al Sharpton, where he discussed True the Vote’s voter intimidation network with Joyce Beatty, a candidate for Congress in Ohio. In that discussion, which can be viewed here, Beatty expressed her disgust at the fact Husted was participating in the True the Vote Ohio summit and said, “They are trying to kill the vote.”
“I am appalled,” said Beatty, “that our former secretary of state and our current secretary of state are engaged in such things as voter intimidation.”
This morning, True the Vote sent out an updated press release that no longer featured Husted as a featured speaker. He was replaced with Ohio State Senator Bill Seitz. I wrote to Kirsten Fedewa, the public relations director who sent out the press releases, asking her if Husted was no longer participating in the summit. “No, he is not,” she wrote back.
Husted could not be reached at his office by phone nor by e-mail for comment. We will update when we hear back.
Read “How the Right’s Building Its ‘Poll Watcher’ Network for November” here.