Texas Democrats seek to expedite appeal against local tea party group
The Texas Democratic Party on Tuesday filed a motion for expedited appeal in its case against the King Street Patriots, a tea party group based in Houston.
“Despite what they believe, the King Street Patriots are not above the law,” said TDP spokeswoman Rebecca Acuna. “This right wing group should not be allowed to continue to intimidate voters and operate illegally for another election cycle.”
A district court judge ruled in March that the King Street Patriots were a political action committee and had illegally aided the Republican Party with its “True the Vote” poll-watching program. The group insisted that it was a nonprofit corporation and appealed the ruling.
“The King Street Patriots want to operate as a political entity and continue to work for Republicans while ignoring the laws,” Acuna said. “The gig is up. It’s time that they disclose their donors and follow the laws that all other political entities have to follow.”
In 2010, the U.S. Justice Department investigated the King Street Patriots’ anti-voter fraud campaign after receiving a number of complaints about voter intimidation in Hispanic and African-American areas. Poll monitors allegedly were hovering over voters and confronting election workers.
At the time, the group had trained 1,000 people to work at polls in Harris County.
But the King Street Patriots plan to vastly enlarge their campaign by recruiting 1 million poll watchers to monitor the 2012 elections. Catherine Engelbrecht, the group’s president, told Roll Call last year that they had already raised $140,000 and provided election-monitoring training to tea party groups in 30 states.
“Our goal is to bring focus to a national call for election integrity,” said Engelbrecht.
The group says its campaign is non-partisan, yet claims on its website that “vote fraud is nearly an exclusive crime of the left” and that the left wants “to be able to steal elections at will.”