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Philly lawmaker will sue to block release of personal info in GOP probe | Monday Morning Coffee

Democratic state Sen. Art Haywood is scheduled to announce his legal action during a press conference today

September 27, 2021 7:22 am

State Sen. Art Haywood, D-Philadelphia (Pa. Senate photo)

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
A Democratic state lawmaker and his wife are expected to announce legal action today seeking to block the release of their personal information in a partisan probe of the 2020 election results.

State Sen. Art Haywood, of Philadelphia, and his wife, Julie, have scheduled a 10 a.m. news conference at the Montgomery County courthouse in Norristown, according to a news release that went out at mid-afternoon on Sunday. Haywood’s 4th Senate District seat also includes part of Montgomery County.

The action, filed against the Pennsylvania Department of State, which would be responsible for releasing the information, demands that the agency “not release their personal information and that of all voters in Pennsylvania to that committee,” the news release reads. The agency has oversight of elections in the commonwealth.

The lawsuit comes “in response to a subpoena from Republicans on the [Senate] Intergovernmental [Operations] Committee for the birth date, drivers license and last four digits of social security numbers of all voters in the November 2020 presidential election and the May 2021 primary election,” the statement reads.

Hayward’s expected action comes on top of a lawsuit that state Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed on behalf of the Department of State in Commonwealth Court last week charging that the fishing expedition by the Republican-controlled Senate panel threatens the voters’ constitutionally protected right to “free and fair elections and to the protection of their personal information.”

“We have to uphold the law. This isn’t about hiding information as some have suggested,” Shapiro said last week. “This is about our responsibility in the Office of Attorney General to protect Pennsylvanians.”

Some of what the Senate panel seeks, such as Pennsylvanians’ voting histories and addresses, already is public information. But Democrats and voting rights’ advocates have pushed back sharply against the quest for other personal, identifying information.

State Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, speaks at a Sept. 15, 2021 Senate hearing to approve subpoenas for a legislative investigation of the 2020 election as panel chair Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, listens. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

The data requests are due by Oct. 1, and the information will be handed over to a third-party vendor, which has yet to be hired, the Senate panel’s chairman, Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, has said.

Earlier this month, Dush said that the identifying information was needed to verify “the validity of people who have voted, whether or not they exist.” He referenced affidavits gathered by the state Republican Party as proof, but said he had not yet reviewed the documents.

Shapiro’s lawsuit alleges that Dush and Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, are “purporting to conduct an investigation into supposed election irregularities — even though the Intergovernmental Operations Committee has no experience, authority, or jurisdiction to oversee election matters.”

“You would not let a large company act this way with personal data,” Shapiro said.

As required by law, all 67 Pennsylvania counties conducted post-election audits of a statistical sampling after the 2020 general election. Sixty-three counties conducted risk-limiting audits. Neither review found evidence of voter fraud or election misconduct.

Senate Republicans’ effort to review the 2020 general and 2021 primary elections come after former President Donald Trump claimed without evidence that his loss was influenced by widespread voter fraud, claims echoed by his Republican allies across the country — including in Harrisburg.

Those claims have been debunked by Trump’s attorney general as well as by county election officials. Legal challenges to the election also have been dismissed in federal court.

Haywood’s fellow Senate Democrats also have filed their own legal challenge asking the state Commonwealth Court to block the information requests on different grounds.

Their suit claims the subpoenas violate state court’s constitutional duty to adjudicate elections, step into the executive duties of the state’s auditor general, and violate state privacy law, the Capital-Star reported last week.

(Image via pxHere.com)

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Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

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The House comes in at 12 p.m., the Senate convenes at 1 p.m.
8 a.m., 205 Ryan: House State Government Committee
9:30 a.m., Capitol Steps: House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee
                  11 a.m., Hearing Room 1, North Office Building: Senate Transportation Committee
                12 p.m., 8E-A East Wing: Senate Health & Human Services Committee
Call of the Chair, Senate Chamber: Senate Appropriations Committee
Call of the Chair, 140 Main Capitol: House Appropriations Committee

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                                  11:30 a.m.: Luncheon for Rep. Mark Longietti 
                                 11:30 a.m.: Luncheon for Sen. Judy Schwank
                                    5 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Stan Saylor
                                        5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Dan Miller
                                      5:30 p.m.: Reception for People for Emily Kinkead 
                             5:30 p.m.: Reception for Senate Republican Campaign Committee
            6 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Ben Sanchez
                                        9:30 p.m.: Reception for Sen. Camera Bartolotta
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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.

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