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Dornan's Challenge
and the Privileges of Citizenship

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

With the high profile investigation into campaign finance abuses dominating the political scene, little attention has been given to the behavior of House Democrats regarding Robert K. Dornan's challenge of Loretta Sanchez's 984-vote victory in the 1996 congressional election. The DNC has shown the American people that they cannot win an election when limited to U.S. funds. The investigation into the Dornan-Sanchez race has raised the question of whether they can win when restricted to American voters.

The Democrats have become experts at dodging investigators. After all, they have as their lead coaches the originators of the playbook on inquiry resistance tactics. Clinton, Gore and Reno have set forth every possible maneuver to slip out of the investigation spotlight. The House Democrats have been practicing key plays with the same agility as their factually challenged leaders.

Memorable strategies from the highlight reel include:

Using procedure to stonewall and stall. The Democrats have disabled debate in the House for weeks with time consuming resolutions and persistent demands that the Sanchez investigation be ended.

Changing the subject. The Democrats characterized the Dornan challenge as a weight on the House that has interfered with business as usual.

Proposing general reform rather than addressing the specific violations in question. House Democrats have said that they would agree to a general discussion of allegations that have been made regarding non-citizen voting in the 1996 election if Republicans would simply drop their frivolous investigation of Rep. Loretta Sanchez's election.

Proposing new legislation. Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) introduced a resolution on the House floor that called for the Dornan-Sanchez case to be dropped, but provided for the continuance of an investigation by both California authorities and the House Oversight Committee into general illegal voting and voter registration procedures.

Attacking accusers by labeling them as sexist or racist. The House Democrats have complained that Sanchez has been targeted because she is a woman and she is Hispanic, conveniently ignoring the fact that more than 5,000 potential non-citizens throughout Orange County have been found by the INS to have participated illegally.

Despite these unseemly tactics, the Republicans have kept the Dornan challenge alive. The House Oversight Committee must continue its attempts to determine how many non-citizens may have voted illegally in the 46th District. So far, the Committee believes that number to be 1,000 to 2,000 non-citizens. This is ample reason to justify the continuation of the investigation. The House has a constitutional duty to ensure the legality of the election. The Republicans in the House should be commended for helping to preserve the integrity of one of the most rudimentary privileges of citizenship.

Copyright © 1999 -
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

All Rights Reserved