Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Vasquez staff members offer misleading testimony

Let's start with Alan Bernstein:

Any honeymoon between (Texas) Democrats and the new Harris County voter registrar ended suddenly today.

Democratic state Reps. Garnet Coleman and Ana Hernandez of Houston said Leo Vasquez, who is tax assessor-collector and voter registration chief, is responsible for staffers who allegedly misled state legislators considering whether to require voters to offer more proof of identification before casting ballots.

“It is up to (Vasquez) to clean up his office,” Coleman and Hernandez said in a news media handout. “Otherwise, Leo needs to go.”

What's the issue here?

The Democrats today zeroed in on Hammerlein’s legislative testimony, several hours into hearing that ran past midnight, that thousands of Harris County residents who registered to vote on time were not eligible to participate in early voting two weeks later because they applied relatively late.

Hammerlein acknowledged today that his statement was wrong and said it was due to the strange hour rather than any attempt to mislead the Legislature.

Interesting. Vasquez apparently got reactionary and overly defensive about it:

(Vasquez) said today that testimony in Austin last week on the “voter ID” bill by ... Hammerlein and Ed Johnson was no partisan move. The pair, called to testify by Republican lawmakers, took no position on the bill and provided facts as requested, Vasquez said.

Coleman and Hernandez never have taken their concerns to him, Vasquez said, and they owe his staffers an apology for making baseless allegations.

More interesting. A catfight of sorts has erupted. Google searches for more reporting about this story seem a little thin at the moment. I'd like to know more, and if you do, post a link in the comments.

: Courtesy Kuffner, here's the full statement outlining the complaint from Coleman and Hernandez. And Vince has some video of the testimony in question.

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