I’ve previously noted that Missouri GOP Attorney General Jay Ashcroft has been one of only four AGs to warmly embrace Trump’s pet Election Integrity Commission – in spite of the partisan voter suppression record of many of its members and the dubious nature of its charge. Based on Ashcroft’s record as an enthusiast for standard GOP voter suppression measures, this stance seemed consistent with expectations. This week he even went so far as to declare his personal investment in the commissions results in a CNN New Day segment :
“Well, first of all, it seems to me this is an investigation as to whether or not vote fraud occurs and how prevalent it is. And we in the state of Missouri regularly see instances of pretty much every conceivable type of vote fraud you can imagine, from documented cases of voter impersonation to people trying to slip multiple ballots into the ballot box, voting multiple times; people voting where they’re not registered.
“We actually have a state legislator that was elected. It was proven. Two members of his family pled guilty in a court of law to illegally putting him over the top. He won by one vote, and now he serves in the legislature. So we know that vote fraud occurs. The problem is…”
To which I can respond with two words, one beginning with “B” and the other with “S.”
So, in essence, did CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who forcefully called Ashcroft on his BS and left him scrambling and, metaphorically at least, red faced. In fact, Voter fraud in Missouri is so rare as to be statistically nonexistent.
Ashcroft may be flagrant about his voter suppression sympathies – even in the face of such a public spanking, but he isn’t immune to public pressure. According to an AP report, “Missouri voters have flooded Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s office with calls expressing concern about his decision to give some voter registration information to a national commission investigating alleged voter fraud.”
And to my jaundiced perceptions, it seems as if Ashcroft may have moderated his enthusiasm for the Trump/Kobach initiative since the television slap-down and the public outcry here at home. He has issued a new official statement and the story he is now telling is that he has no choice, the Big Law Daddy made him do it, and besides the other kids (e.g., Jason Kander and Robin Canahan) did it first. He also implies that maybe he doesn’t even want to do it:
My willingness to comply with the request for publicly available data is not a political or personal choice. It’s a decision based on the laws governing my office and the information we have.
For the time being at least, he’s no longer beating the drum about voter fraud in Missouri, and has described his current opinion on the work of commission in significantly less approving terms:
Do I think that this is a case where there are politicians grandstanding? Of course,” Ashcroft said. “As a statewide official, I am not allowed to apply the law differently because I like you or dislike you.”
Just goes to show that dishonesty and pusillanimity often go together.