BY Staff WritersApril 14, 2024
1 month ago
 | April 14, 2024
1 month ago

Campaign Against Trump Advisor Ends in Non-Appointment

In a significant political development, a campaign led by the group Free Speech for People has influenced the non-reappointment of former Trump advisor Cleta Mitchell to the Election Assistance Commission's advisory board.

The activist group's aggressive effort led to Mitchell's term not being renewed following her controversial involvement in the 2020 election disputes, as the Daily Caller News Foundation reports.

Cleta Mitchell, who began her term on the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) board in November 2021, became a focal point of controversy due to her legal work for former President Trump's 2020 campaign.

Her involvement gained particular scrutiny after she participated in a phone call on January 2, 2021, where Trump discussed vote findings with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. This background set the stage for Free Speech for People's campaign against her.

Free Speech for People, an activist group known for its legal challenges against political figures, targeted Mitchell as part of its broader efforts to contest election deniers' influence on American democracy.

John Bonifaz, the president of the organization, explicitly threatened a public criticism campaign against the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) if Mitchell was reappointed. In a decisive email sent to USCCR General Counsel David Ganz on Nov. 28, 2023, Bonifaz made his stance clear, emphasizing the organization's readiness to escalate the situation publicly.

Activist Group's Pressures Lead to Shift

Bonifaz's threatening email was a culmination of a series of attempts by Free Speech for People to influence the USCCR's decision. Before this, Bonifaz had received communication from Ganz in October, stating that while Mitchell could not be removed during her term, her reappointment was not guaranteed. This correspondence laid the groundwork for the subsequent action by Free Speech for People.

The EAC, established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, saw a controversial figure in Mitchell due to her high-profile legal support for Trump's challenges to the 2020 election results. Her non-reappointment marks a significant victory for groups advocating for election integrity and against the perpetuation of election denial narratives.

Despite the fervent campaign by Free Speech for People, Mitchell herself was reportedly unaware of the group's efforts against her appointment until after the decision was made. The group celebrated the decision the day after Bonifaz sent his threatening email, viewing it as a triumph for democracy.

A Battle for Integrity in Election Oversight

The backdrop to this event is the broader national conversation about election integrity and the role of federal advisory boards in safeguarding democratic processes. Mitchell's initial appointment was a result of a compromise among USCCR commissioners, a testament to the complex political dynamics surrounding these positions.

Notably, neither Mitchell nor a Democratic appointee were reappointed after their terms expired, as reported by J. Christian Adams. This indicates an attempt to ensure a more bipartisan approach to election oversight, possibly in response to the controversies and legal challenges of the 2020 election.

Free Speech for People's campaign against Mitchell was not its first foray into challenging political figures. The organization has previously targeted Donald Trump, attempting to remove him from the 2024 ballot, underscoring its continued focus on election-related issues.

The Controversy Surrounding Legal Challenges

Mitchell's non-reappointment even touches upon legal narratives, as she was among those recommended for charging in a Fulton County grand jury racketeering case against Trump, though not eventually indicted. This legal backdrop adds another layer to the complexities of her involvement and the subsequent campaign against her.

USCCR Chair Rochelle Garza's decision not to comment and staff director Mauro Morales' lack of response to requests for comments reflect the sensitivity and potential political ramifications of Mitchell's non-reappointment. On the other hand, an EAC spokesperson confirmed that the board of advisors serves two-year terms, indirectly acknowledging the decision not to reappoint Mitchell.

Mitchell's response to the situation highlighted the irony she saw in a free speech group advocating for her voice to be silenced, given her background and political affiliations. Her comment to the DCNF pointed to the tension between advocacy for free speech and political efforts to exclude certain perspectives from influential boards.

Reflections on Democracy and Free Speech

In conclusion, the non-reappointment of Cleta Mitchell from the Election Assistance Commission's advisory board, following a campaign by Free Speech for People, marks a notable moment in the ongoing debates surrounding election integrity, free speech, and the roles individuals involved in contentious political actions play in overseeing democratic processes.

From her initial appointment amidst compromises to the public and legal challenges that followed, Mitchell's case underscores the complex balance between free expression and the safeguarding of democratic institutions.

Bonifaz's aggressive approach, Mitchell's controversial legal work for Trump, and the eventual decision by the USCCR all reflect the intricate dynamics at play in maintaining and scrutinizing the integrity of American elections.

Written by: Staff Writers



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