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Fulani FILES COMPLAINT AGAINST Independence Party, Sen. Clinton

By Robert "Rob" Redding Jr.

Publisher

    WASHINGTON, March. 03, 2006, 12:50 p.m. - Independent activist Lenora Fulani and nine others from seven states yesterday filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department saying the leaders of the state's Independence Party violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

     Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and State Senator Majority Leader Joseph Bruno are included in the complaint, according to an advance copy of a news release obtained by Redding News Review.

    "The claim was triggered when the statewide leadership of the Independence Party of New York, a ballot status party that is the state’s third largest, moved to disband three duly constituted county organizations in New York City," the news release reads. "Fulani and the vast majority of the party’s black membership and voters are based in New York City.  The disbanding of the county organizations was intended to, and has had the effect, of disenfranchising black voters and triggers Voting Rights Act ('VRA') protections." 


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    The release continues:  

    Since the passage of the VRA, changes in election procedure are required to be pre-cleared with the Justice Department in order to guarantee that minority voting rights are protected.  In this instance, no pre-clearance was sought or obtained prior to the disbanding of the county organizations.

    The dissolution of the local party organizations are part of a backlash aimed at minority voters, following a monumental political shift in New York City’s recent mayoral elections.  In the 2005 mayor’s race, 47% of the black vote supported Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who ran on the Republican and Independence party lines, breaking a longstanding tradition of voting monolithically for Democrats.

    In a cover letter accompanying the complaint attorney Harry Kresky writes:

    “Spitzer and Clinton pressured MacKay to launch his political assault on Fulani and her associates. Spitzer and Clinton, who rely substantially on black voter loyalty to the Democratic Party, have been increasingly alarmed at Fulani and the Independence Party’s influence among black voters.”

    Kresky’s letter informs the Justice Department:

    “After 47 percent of the black vote deserted the Democrats in the New York City mayoral election in 2005 to help re-elect Republican/Independent Michael Bloomberg, a voter shift in which Fulani and the Independence Party figured prominently, MacKay intensified his segregationist campaign inside the Independence Party, causing the above-mentioned actions to be taken.”

    The complaint also alleges that GOP State Senate Leader Joseph Bruno participated in the effort in the hope that the disenfranchisement of Fulani and the New York City organizations “would enhance his ability to use Independence Party cross-endorsements upstate” to hold his narrow majority in the State Senate. 

    In addition to Dr. Fulani and co-complainant Dr. Jessie Fields, both Independence Party members targeted in MacKay’s actions, voters from Georgia, Massachusetts, Illinois, South Carolina, California and Maine joined in the complaint, citing the chilling effect these violations have on independent organizing efforts in other parts of the country, particularly with respect to black voters.  The Committee for a Unified Independent Party, Inc., a national think tank for the independent political movement, is also a complainant.

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