Has the Pennsylvania GOP learned nothing from it’s Mike Turzai moment/low point? Must they have the Governor’s approval rating dip into the single digits before changing course? Has the backlash against the state’s oppressive Voter ID law that will likely prevent 758,939 registered voters from partaking in the November election not sufficiently stirred their interest in change? Apparently not, because Governor Corbett has chosen to have a Mitt Romney fundraiser create TV ads about the voter ID law, according to the Philadelphia City Paper:
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration has signed a $249,660 contract with a company run by Mitt Romney fundraiser, former state GOP party executive director, pharmaceutical lobbyist, and school voucher advocate Chris Bravacos to direct a media campaign promoting the state’s Voter ID law. Yes, that very same law, requiring that voters present identification at the polls, which critics contend will suppress Democratic-leaning non-white, poor, elderly and youth voters and which House Majority Leader Mike Turzai recently boasted is “gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
One sample PSA on the Bravo Group’s Vimeo page portrays voter ID as just the latest installment in a bright history of American voting rights, and features anodyne black and white photos―including one of suffragettes. Another spot portrays a lot of shiny-toothed middle class models holding ID cards. [note: Bravo removed the two videos this morning but Occupy Harrisburg has reposted them here and here.]
The tagline? “Your right to vote: it’s one thing you never want to miss out on.”
And that is it. No information on how to remedy the problem. No description of why it is necessary. Just smiling models holding ID’s. And still, PA Republicans remain dumbfounded as to why Corbett’s approval rating is at an all time low.
Hiring a group led by Chris Bravacos shows the type of regime being run by Corbett, fraught with nepotism and blind devotion to all things austere and Far Right-leaning. Bravacos was part of Corbett’s transition team and a long time friend.
Bravo is making a $24,9000 subcontract to the Skyler Group, a consulting outfit run by the African-American former Harrisburg City Councilman Otto V. Banks. Banks is also the head of the pro-school voucher REACH Foundation, a recipient of funding from the right-wing group American Federation for Children (yes: the same group that helps fund campaigns against anti-voucher politicians like state Rep. James Roebuck). Bravacos also sits on the REACH executive committee―along with a who’s who of conservative state religious and business figures in REACH leadership.
This is perhaps what passes for minority contracting under the Corbett Administration: the state Request for Quotation (RFQ) promises “greater consideration” to projects that include a “Minority Business Enterprise.” The webs of power and money, as usual, run thick: Bravacos also sits on the board of the pro-charter Philadelphia School Partnership, which City Paper last week reported is set to receive a $15 million grant from the William Penn Foundation―the same foundation that funded the Boston Consulting Group’s proposal to dismantle and potentially privatize Philly public schools.
Sadly, Corbett is an effective cog in the reckless though well-oiled Republican machine. In plain view he has gerrymandered and incited voter suppression in an attempt to gain standing in the national GOP by delivering presidential hopeful Mitt Romney a battleground state on an oppressive silver platter.
As if the law isn’t bad enough, Corbett has used government funds allotted to prevent voter suppression to help cover up the voter suppression he is implementing. Positively Orwellian!
What’s worse? The contract appears to be funded by federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) dollars, which was passed to ensure that the chaos of the 2000 presidential elections (you know, when all those votes weren’t counted) is not repeated. HAVA, like any federal program, also requires states to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which stipulates that “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
“It’s outrageous that Pennsylvania is using money appropriated by Congress to help Americans vote to hire a lobbying firm, founded by a former executive director of the Pennsylvania Republican Party and Mitt Romney fundraiser to develop the ‘community outreach and public relations portion of the 2012 general election voter education media campaign,’” said an incredulous Cost of Freedom leader Faye Anderson. “Are we really to believe that a Republican operative will draft a plan that will empower the very voters targeted by the GOP’s voter suppression by voter ID scheme.”
The act is so egregious that Allegheny County Rep. Frank Dermody has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to investigate the situation.