A lawyer who has donated thousands to Hillary Clinton and works alongside former attorney general Eric Holder is part of the newest team to bring a lawsuit forward challenging a state’s voter identification laws, the fourth such suit filed this year.
The lawsuit, filed on Dec. 2, 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, was submitted on behalf of the Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The suit argues that the state’s voter identification laws are discriminatory in nature against minorities and have “immediately disenfranchised” 280,000 voters within the state.
"For five decades, Alabama's use of discriminatory voting schemes has necessitated repeated federal intervention,” the lawsuit states. “Now, Alabama again seeks to disfranchise thousands of African-American and Latino voters—all in the name of ‘curing' a voter fraud problem that does not exist.”
Joanne B. Grossman, senior counsel at the Washington, D.C., office of Covington & Burling LLP, is listed as an attorney representing the organizations on the case.
Grossman gave $1,000 to the Hillary Clinton for President campaign on Jan. 22, 2008 and an additional $1,300 to the campaign on March 9, 2008. She currently works out of the same office of Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general who challenged voter ID laws before leaving the position on April 27, 2015, to become a partner at Covington & Burling.
Just two months before the lawsuit was filed, on Oct. 3, 2015, Hillary Clinton lambasted Alabama’s “potential voter disenfranchisement” after it was announced that 31 drivers license offices would be closing around the state due to a reduced state budget.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said transactions in each of the 31 locations accounted for fewer than five percent of drivers license transactions in the state. Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley fired back at Clinton, saying the decision was not about race while adding the Democratic presidential candidate “never lets the facts get in the way of a good political sound bite.”
One day after the lawsuit was submitted in Birmingham, Ala., Clinton’s campaign issued a statement in support of the effort.
"The right to vote is essential to our democracy, and so Hillary Clinton strongly supports the NAACP [Legal Defense and Educational Fund's] efforts to right the wrongs of Gov. Bentley and the Alabama Legislature,” said Maya Harris, senior policy adviser for the Clinton campaign.
“Covington is usually on the wrong side of these issues,” J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, told the Washington Free Beacon. “They hired a lawyer who was found in contempt of Congress named Eric Holder.”
Grossman did not a return a request for comment. The Free Beacon attempted to contact Holder but was unsuccessful. Covington & Burling’s public relations department did not respond to questions by press time on whether Holder has any involvement or will be advising Grossman on the lawsuit.
Earlier this year, lawsuits were filed in three other states as part of a national push to challenge voter ID laws enacted in recent years by Republican-controlled legislatures.
Those lawsuits were pushed by Marc Elias, Clinton’s top campaign lawyer and partner at the D.C.-based Perkins Coie, who filed the suits independently of the campaign although Clinton’s campaign publicly backed the efforts.
The first in a series of lawsuits was filed in Ohio on May 8, 2015. Shortly after, on June 1, a second lawsuit was filed in Wisconsin. A third lawsuit was then filed on June 11 in Virginia.
The initial plans to launch a multi-state push challenging voter ID laws dates back to January 2014 when liberal billionaire George Soros got wind of Elias wanting to file numerous lawsuits across the United States. Soros threw his weight behind the effort, vowing to put at least $5 million into the campaign.
Since late June, the Free Beacon has made multiple attempts to receive comment from Elias and Soros in regards to the lawsuit push but none were returned.