EXCLUSIVE: Harvesting Voters? These Left-Wing Groups Are Teaming With USDA

FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—A White House official told the Agriculture Department to include left-leaning groups, including the United Food and Commercial Workers union and... Read More The post EXCLUSIVE: Harvesting Voters? These Left-Wing Groups Are Teaming With USDA appeared first on The Daily Signal.

May 9, 2024 - 00:40
EXCLUSIVE: Harvesting Voters? These Left-Wing Groups Are Teaming With USDA

FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—A White House official told the Agriculture Department to include left-leaning groups, including the United Food and Commercial Workers union and the League of United Latin American Citizens, among “stakeholders” to help implement President Joe Biden’s executive order aimed at turning out the vote.

At the same time, records obtained by The Daily Signal show that USDA brass had extensive discussions with the Raben Group, a Democrat-aligned lobbying group managed by former officials of the Clinton and Obama administration. 

The Raben Group represented the left-wing advocacy group Demos, which has pushed the so-called Green New Deal and labor unions’ policy goals. As The Daily Signal previously reported, Demos worked with the USDA on “best practices” to boost voting. 

The United Food and Commercial Workers, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the Raben Group were not on a previously reported list of more than four dozen left-leaning organizations that participated in a “listening session” with White House officials on July 12, 2021, under six months after Biden became president. 

Two days before that “listening session” via Zoom between White House officials and the left-wing groups, Raben Group associate Dylan Tureff wrote on behalf of Demos to DeWayne Goldman, USDA’s senior adviser for racial equality to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

Tureff’s goal: to set up a meeting with Goldman to “discuss how your office can play an essential role in protecting and expanding democracy.”

Biden signed the executive order in March 2021, directing federal agencies to partner with private organizations to increase voter registration and participation in elections.

Since that time, records emerged through Freedom of Information Act requests from multiple agencies showing that the Biden administration’s bureaucracy has enlisted an army of left-leaning nonprofits to mobilize voters.

Critics of Biden’s order have called it “BidenBucks.”

They also say Biden’s Executive Order 14019 weaponized taxpayer-funded agencies to advance his reelection effort—and those of Democrats. 

Demos long has been associated with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

“Demos and its organizational partners have identified the below-stated agency systems and programs as areas of great opportunity for the implementation of this vital executive order,” Tureff told USDA’s Goldman in his July 2021 message.

Writing on behalf of Demos, Tureff said get-out-the-vote efforts for Agriculture Department offices could include online portals; “direct interaction programs”; grant programs “for both state and private actors” grants for governments and authorities; and programs focused on tribal services and support.

Goldman wrote to colleagues July 27: “Do we have any activities around this EO [executive order] on Voting Access? I have a meeting request from Demos to engage with USDA, but could use some help understanding the prioritization. Do you have any knowledge of this group?”

In response, Lynn Overmann, USDA senior adviser for data and technology, seemed to raise some concerns in the email thread under the subject line “Demos Meeting Request on Voting Rights EO.”

Overmann wrote to Goldman and others: “Has USDA supported voting rights efforts in the past? Given our footprint in communities, I could imagine offering voter registration information at in-person locations or sharing information broadly across our communications channels, but think there would be privacy/consent issues around sharing data.” 

The Biden executive order directed all federal agencies to develop a strategic plan for increasing voting by September 2021. 

The Agriculture Department’s first interim response to a records request by The Daily Signal didn’t include the department’s strategic plan, but did include emails discussing what its key priorities likely would be. 

Kumar Chandran, acting undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services, sent an email to colleagues on May 29, 2021, that said an attached draft strategic plan contained the “top 5 suggestions.” 

The email released to The Daily Signal, in which several redactions were made, summarizes the top five recommendations as including voter registration at “Voter Registration & Information at Food and Nutrition Service Program Sites Though WIC and SNAP sites.”

WIC is an Agriculture Department food program for “women, infants and children.” SNAP, better known to Americans as food stamps, is an acronym for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Critics of Biden’s executive order allege that government agencies could give a false impression to the public that benefits of social programs are tied to voting. 

The USDA also listed “Rural Development” as the second of the top five suggestions. Details were redacted. 

Third on the list was “voter registration and information through production and conservation,” but again details were missing. 

Fourth was ensuring that the Agriculture Department’s 100,000 employees were registered to vote and had leave time to vote. 

The fifth and last suggestion for implementing Biden’s order pertained to social media and communication about voter information using Twitter and other such platforms.

An email dated April 7, 2021, from Paul Zeiss with the White House scheduling office sent a list of “stakeholders” on voting issues to Akhil Rakam, then a USDA official. 

The mail included the mentions of the United Food and Commercial Workers, or UFCW, and the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC.

UFCW, the sixth-largest labor union in the United States, represents workers in the food production, retail, and chemical industries. 

LULAC, an advocate for Hispanic Americans, sued Texas in 2006 over the state’s redistricting, alleging that the new election districts violated the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court upheld the districting plan, but found some districts needed to be revised. 

In 2021, the League of United Latin American Citizens served subpoenas on several Republican state legislators in Texas in connection with a lawsuit over the state’s election reforms

Other “stakeholders” the White House identified for USDA are more directly related to agriculture and not overtly political. 

These groups include the Intertribal Agriculture Council, the National Black Farmers Association, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the National Association of Counties, the Rebuild Rural Coalition, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the American Public Human Services Association, and Rural Organizing.

A USDA spokesperson didn’t respond to The Daily Signa’s request for comment on this report. 

Demos, the Raben Group, UFCW, and LULAC also didn’t respond to inquiries from The Daily Signal.

The post EXCLUSIVE: Harvesting Voters? These Left-Wing Groups Are Teaming With USDA appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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