Reporters at McClatchy are now digging deeper into the Department of Justice's crusade against "voter fraud" and how, in reality, it was a crackdown on African-American and Latino voting. In their latest dispatch, they look at DOJ civil rights lawyer Hans von Spakovsky, the most vocal advocate of reining in "fraud."

As I noted earlier, many pieces of this story were exposed in 2004 by our intrepid reporter at Southern Exposure, Jordan Green, in his piece "DOJ Actions on Election Law Benefit Republicans" (October, 2004). McClatchy catalogues what is known about Spakovsky's crusade at DOJ, with a few post-2004 updates:

Now, amid a scandal over politicization of the Justice Department, Congress is beginning to examine allegations that von Spakovsky was a key player in a Republican campaign to hang onto power in Washington by suppressing the votes of minority voters.



"Mr. von Spakovsky was central to the administration's pursuit of strategies that had the effect of suppressing the minority vote," charged Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief who worked under him.


He and other former career department lawyers say that von Spakovsky steered the agency toward voting rights policies not seen before, pushing to curb minor instances of election fraud by imposing sweeping restrictions that would make it harder, not easier, for Democratic-leaning poor and minority voters to cast ballots.


In interviews, current and former federal officials and civil rights leaders told McClatchy Newspapers that von Spakovsky:


- Sped approval of tougher voter ID laws in Georgia and Arizona in 2005, joining decisions to override career lawyers who believed that Georgia's law would restrict voting by poor blacks and who felt that more analysis was needed on the Arizona law's impact on Native Americans and Latinos.


- Tried to influence the federal Election Assistance Commission's research into the dimensions of voter fraud nationally and the impact of restrictive voter ID laws - research that could undermine a vote-suppression agenda.


- Allegedly engineered the ouster of the commission's chairman, Paul DiGregorio, whom von Spakovsky considered insufficiently partisan.

Again, what's most disturbing is that much of this was known at least three years ago, and was reported here at Southern Exposure, in The New Yorker, and several other award-winning media outfits.

But mainstream TV, radio and newspaper outlets didn't pick up the story -- allowing the Department of Justice to continue its remarkable strategy of pushing "voter fraud" at the expense of voting rights, with undoubted impact in the 2004 and 2006 elections.

Another reason to support independent media that does real investigative reporting. On many key stories, you'll find it here first -- and Big Media eventually catches up.