Lawyers who have donated thousands to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are involved in a new lawsuit challenging a requirement in three states to make individuals provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote using a national mail voter registration form.
The lawsuit was brought forth by a coalition of organizations including the League of Women Voters in Georgia, Alabama, and Kansas, against Brian D. Newby, the acting executive director and chief operating officer of the United States Election Commission, and the United States Election Assistance Commission.
The lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia argues that Newby—who on Jan. 29, 2016 granted requests to Georgia, Kansas, and Alabama to modify the Federal Form’s instructions to require voter registration applicants in those states to submit proof of U.S. citizenship—violated the Administrative Procedure Act.
Some of the lawyers involved with the suit have contributed heavily to Clinton.
Michael Keats, a lawyer for the New York-based Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, is listed as an attorney representing the groups within the lawsuit and has given thousands to Clinton this election cycle. On Oct. 22, 2015, Keats made a $2,000 donation to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, according to campaign finance records.
Linda Stein, another attorney representing the groups, is a lawyer at the D.C.-based Steptoe & Johnson LLP. Stein has given a total of $2,850 to Hillary Clinton throughout the years, with the first donation coming as early as Sept. 27, 2007, in the amount of $500, and the most recent going to Hillary on Aug. 27, 2015, in the amount of $1,000.
John Freedman, an attorney for Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C., has given $4,700 to Clinton’s campaigns. Freedman made his first donation to Hillary totaling $500 on Jan. 17, 2008, with the most recent coming on Dec. 1, 2015, in the amount of $2,700.
Keats, Stein, and Freedman did not respond to a request for comment on their involvement in the suit or their donations to Hillary.
This is not the first time attorneys backing Clinton have filed suits challenging state voter ID laws.
Marc Elias, a partner at the D.C.-based Perkins Coie law firm and the top campaign lawyer for Hillary Clinton, first began exploring possible challenges against state’s voter identification laws as early as January 2014. Liberal billionaire George Soros got wind of the plan and threw his weight behind the effort, vowing to put millions behind the multi-state campaign.
The first in a series of pushes challenging voter ID laws was filed in Ohio on May 8, 2015. Just three weeks after the Ohio lawsuit on June 1, another was filed in the state of Wisconsin. A third lawsuit was filed in Virginia on June 11.
Elias brought the challenges forward independently from the Clinton campaign as a partner at Perkins Coie, although the campaign has publicly backed the effort.
A lawsuit was later filed against Alabama’s voter ID laws on Dec. 2, 2015, by a lawyer who has given thousands to Hillary Clinton and who works alongside Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general who challenged voter ID laws during his time in the Obama administration.
"The Obama Justice Department has shown a clear hostility towards ensuring voter integrity," said J. Christian Adams, president and general counsel of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. "Non-citizens have participated in American elections and instead of seeking to prevent it, the Department of Justice enables it. Too much is at stake in 2016 to allow this to continue."