Two top officials at the Department of Public Safety named Gov. Greg Abbott’s office as a driving force in the state’s program to purge nearly 100,000 suspected non-U.S. citizens from Texas’ voter rolls, emails made public Tuesday show.
Abbott’s office, however, on Tuesday denied it had any contact with the agency before the launch of the effort in late January.
The voter purge was scrapped in April after the state settled lawsuits challenging it, and after Secretary of State officials publicly admitted that tens of thousands of naturalized citizens had been wrongly flagged for removal from voter rolls.
The emails were made public Tuesday by the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center, which represented plaintiffs who sued the state.
In an August 2018 email, John Crawford, a top official of the driver license division at the Texas Department of Public Safety, told employees that DPS had previously turned over records to compare with state voter rolls, and “we have an urgent request from the governor’s office to do it again.”
That same day, the director of the driver license division, Amanda Arriaga, wrote in a separate email that “the Governor is interested in getting this information as soon as possible.”
The emails released Tuesday, however, suggest that those DPS officials were responding to pressure that Abbott’s office applied, said Luis Vera, LULAC’s national general counsel.
“The bottom line is this was the governor’s program,” Vera said. “He threw Whitley and the DPS secretary under the bus. All along it was the governor pushing for (the program.)”
As if it would be anyone else.