Mother Jones obtained leaked video of right-wing Heritage executive discussing organization’s role in GOP voter suppression efforts
ATLANTA – Today, in a newly leaked video obtained by Mother Jones, Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America, a sister organization of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, is seen boasting last month to conservative donors about the GOP’s successful efforts to pass model voter suppression legislation in state after state across the country.
“This secret video makes abundantly clear what we’ve known all along: no matter what Brian Kemp, Barry Fleming and other Republican officials across the country have said, SB 202 and other anti-voting bills like it are part of a nationwide Republican-led attack on voting rights engineered by the far-right Heritage Foundation to disenfranchise voters of color in response to the Big Lie surrounding the 2020 election. Heritage is, at this very moment, conspiring with Republican state legislators in states like Texas, where voter suppressors are finalizing bills behind closed doors,” said Fair Fight Action CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo. “The Heritage-inspired bills across the country reflect a cynical strategy to suppress the vote and appease conspiracy theorists based on the false notion of widespread voter fraud. Congress must do its part to protect our democracy by passing the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and supporters of voting rights can join our effort at stopjimcrow2.com to help do just that.”
In the video, Anderson, a former Trump Administration official, speaks about a meeting she had with Brian Kemp just days before signing SB 202, a sweeping voter suppression bill into law. As Anderson says in the video, “At the end of the day the bill that Governor Kemp signed, and the Georgia legislature marshalled though had eight key provisions that Heritage recommended.”
The video also shows Republican state Rep. Barry Fleming, the author SB 202, praising Heritage Action for its multi-million dollar investment to pass the voter suppression bill, saying, “I can tell you, back in February, I felt like some days we were alone in Georgia.” Fleming continues in the video, “And then the Heritage Foundation stepped in, and that began to bring us a boost to help turn around, get the truth out about what we were really trying to do. And I’m here in part to say thank you and God bless you.”
As noted by Mother Jones, Anderson reveals in the video the extent to which Heritage is “leading a massive campaign to draft and pass model legislation restricting voting access, which has been swiftly adopted this year in the battleground states of Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and Iowa.” Mother Jones reporter Ari Berman says that while these bills are being sold as “protecting election integrity the real purpose seems to be to help Republicans win elections.”
Anderson is seen in the video admitting that Heritage’s aim is to spend $24 million dollars over the next two years in battleground states “to right the wrongs of November.” She admits that Heritage has created the model for the voter suppression bills, saying, “We’re working with these state legislators to make sure they have all of the information they need to draft the bills.”
Read more from Mother Jones about the leaked video of Heritage Action’s role in GOP voter suppression efforts:
Mother Jones: Leaked Video: Dark Money Group Brags About Writing GOP Voter Suppression Bills Across the Country
By Ari Berman and Nick Surgey
In a private meeting last month with big-money donors, the head of a top conservative group boasted that her outfit had crafted the new voter suppression law in Georgia and was doing the same with similar bills for Republican state legislators across the country.
“In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” she said, “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.”
The Georgia law had “eight key provisions that Heritage recommended,” Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America, a sister organization of the Heritage Foundation, told the foundation’s donors at an April 22 gathering in Tucson, in a recording obtained by the watchdog group Documented and shared with Mother Jones.
Those included policies severely restricting mail ballot drop boxes, preventing election officials from sending absentee ballot request forms to voters, making it easier for partisan workers to monitor the polls, preventing the collection of mail ballots, and restricting the ability of counties to accept donations from nonprofit groups seeking to aid in election administration.
All of these recommendations came straight from Heritage’s list of “best practices” drafted in February. With Heritage’s help, Anderson said, Georgia became “the example for the rest of the country.”
The leaked video reveals the extent to which Heritage is leading a massive campaign to draft and pass model legislation restricting voting access, which has been swiftly adopted this year in the battleground states of Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and Iowa. It’s no coincidence that so many GOP-controlled states are rushing to pass similar pieces of legislation in such a short period of time.
Republican legislators claim they’re tightening up election procedures to address (unfounded) concerns about fraud in the 2020 election. But what’s really behind this effort is a group of conservative Washington insiders who have been pushing these same kinds of voting restrictions for decades, with the explicit aim of helping Republicans win elections.
The difference now is that Trump’s baseless claims about 2020 have given them the ammunition to get the bills passed, and the conservative movement, led by Heritage, is making an unprecedented investment to get them over the finish line.
“We’re working with these state legislators to make sure they have all of the information they need to draft the bills,” Anderson told the Heritage Foundation donors. In addition to drafting the bills in some cases, “we’ve also hired state lobbyists to make sure that in these targeted states we’re meeting with the right people.”