Civil rights, community groups advocate to block Whitley nomination

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Over 20 civil rights and community organizations gathered at the Texas State Capitol’s north steps Thursday morning, advocating for lawmakers to block Gov. Greg Abbott’s nominaton of David Whitley for Secretary of State.

The groups say they were affected by what they call a “voter purge” list last month. Whitley’s office launched the list during voter registration list maintenance activities. It included 95,000 names compiled by the Texas Department of Public Safety that Whitley’s office claimed were non-citizens. County officials checking those names discovered a number of them were citizens. After the list first came out, the Secretary of State’s office said the names were delivered to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office for possible prosecution of any “illegal activity in connection with an election.”

In a statement Thursday, State Sen. José Rodríguez said:

This all stems from Secretary nominee Whitley’s Jan. 25 press release, which indicated a level of certainty that he and other officials now admit they did not have about the data regarding non-citizens registering to vote and/or casting ballots. The press release created the impression that widespread voter fraud had been detected. This is clear from subsequent coverage and comments by elected leaders in and out of Texas, including the President tweeting incorrectly that 58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas. To date, neither Secretary nominee Whitley nor any other Texas leader has directly addressed the President’s false statement. Meanwhile, the Attorney General has aggressively promoted the false premise that there is widespread voter fraud.

The groups have signed a letter addressed to Senate Democrats calling for the blocking of Whitley’s confirmation to permanent Secretary of State office. He has served as interim SOS since December. 

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