State Rep. Alan Clemons, shown here during a news conference in 2011.
South Carolina state. Rep. Alan Clemmons, the Republican lawmaker who wrote a voter ID law that the Justice Department considers discriminatory, isn’t helping his side’s case by his positive response to a racist email. The email essentially gives opponents the legislation to prove that the voter ID law the state is trying to enact is racially motivated.
It’s also not exactly the story Republicans want out in the media during their party’s nominating convention, especially given the fact that they’re already taking heat over an incident in which two attendees allegedly threw nuts at a black CNN camerawoman and said, “This is how we feed animals.”
Garrard Beeney, who represented the civil rights groups, presented emails sent to and from Clemmons’ personal account between 2009 and 2011, when he was working on the law. One, from a man named Ed Koziol, used racially charged rhetoric to denounce the idea that poor, black voters might lack transportation or other resources necessary to obtain photo ID. If the legislature offered a reward for identification cards, “it would be like a swarm of bees going after a watermelon,” Koziol wrote.
Beeney asked Clemmons how he had replied to this email. Clemmons hesitated a moment before answering, “It was a poorly considered response when I said, ‘Amen, Ed, thank you for your support.’”
Beeney also contended that Clemmons, a Republican, wrote the law to suppress Democratic votes. Blacks in South Carolina typically vote Democratic. Beeney asked Clemmons whether he remembered distributing packets of peanuts with cards that read “Stop Obama’s nutty agenda and support voter ID.”
Clemmons said he did not, though Beeney said he had testified in June that he did.