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Conservative group boasts of secret role in voting laws

Conservative group boasts of secret role in voting laws
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The head of a national conservative group that is spending $24 million to push new voting restrictions told supporters it secretly helped draft legislation in Republican-controlled statehouses across the country.

“In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” Anderson said of legislation written for state lawmakers. “Or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation, so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.”

Anderson’s comments shed additional light on precisely how well-funded national organizations have seized on false claims about the 2020 election to try to tighten state voting laws. While it is rare to hear a leader detail how the group masks involvement to give the bills the appearance of broad political support.

Anderson gave the example of Georgia, where she said an activist affiliated with Heritage had given a letter outlining the group’s recommendations to key legislators. The activist first had the proposal signed by thousands of other activists. Other states where she said the group helped write bills included Iowa and Texas.

In a statement Friday, Anderson said: “Heritage Action is proud of our work to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. That work begins at the state level through our grassroots and continues in state legislatures throughout the country.”

Heritage Action is one of several Republican-affiliated groups that jumped into elections issues for the first time after former President Donald Trump’s false claims about election fraud led to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The lies also have fanned deep suspicions about the integrity of the country’s voting systems among GOP activists and donors — Anderson noted Heritage activists cited it as a top issue in a survey — and led to new laws in Georgia, Florida, Iowa, Kansas and other states.

Democrats have argued that the laws make it harder for people to vote, and disproportionally affect Black, Latino, young and other Democratic-leaning voters. Republicans argue the tougher rules will guard against fraud and are needed to restore trust in the election system.

Heritage Action announced its effort in March, saying it would push legislation in eight battleground states based on model principles formulated by its parent organization, the conservative Heritage Foundation. Hans von Spakovsky, the foundation’s top voting expert and a former member of Trump’s 2017 election fraud commission, appeared at the event with Anderson and boasted of regularly talking with Republican secretaries of state. Anderson added that Heritage Action had just had a “huge” call with secretaries of state, who often serve as a state’s chief elections official.

Anderson also said the group runs a Tuesday call to “give marching orders” to other conservative organizations that have just launched voting pushes, including the anti-abortion rights Susan B. Anthony List and the small government group FreedomWorks.
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