The Grandest Stand
By: Scott Jennings
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes has managed to again find her way into the national news, leading a stampede of state election officials competing for the title of “pithiest cliché” as they reject, to varying degrees, President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Electoral Integrity’s request for information.
Elated that a national press corps that lost her number on election night 2014 found it during a slow news week in 2017, Grimes has delighted them with hackneyed comments about bourbon, poop, and outhouses. Her “poop tweet” even featured an emoji, prompting one plugged-in Kentuckian in Washington to tell me: “She devalues Kentuckians by dumbing everything down to a series of stereotypically country clichés without any actual education on the subject matter she is discussing.”
While this commission was borne of President Trump’s specious assertion that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election, it is a fact, according to the Pew Center on the States, that “approximately 24 million—one of every eight—voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate.” Moreover, Pew reports that nearly two million dead people are registered and that almost three million are registered in multiple states.
Our voting rosters need freshening up to engender confidence that these wayward registrations can’t somehow be marshalled for ill by foreign actors. Grimes, in refusing to treat this issue seriously, is upholding a long tradition of Kentucky Democrats who, for some reason, want to keep Kentucky’s voting rolls filled with duplicative and inactive registrants. It would also save the state postage and printing money to clean up the rolls, but far be it for a Frankfort Democrat to care about that.
Grimes, like every other state election official, received a letter from the commission asking for publicly available data. Instead of offering constructive ideas in response, Grimes took grandstanding to heights only a true political hack could admire. Of concern, she said, was the request for the last four digits of each registrant’s Social Security number. Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but what if the federal government already has our Social Security numbers?
Grimes, unprepared yet undeterred, stormed the national airwaves with her banalities. She called CNN’s Jake Tapper “Chris” like they were old friends, mustering all the certainty of a hapless local deputy who knows they’ve been woken up for a good reason but can’t find their bullet.
“Not on my watch,” bellowed Grimes, omitting that the State Board of Elections may (and does!) sell a statewide list of voters “for a reasonable price,” according to Kentucky law. The form to request such data is right there on Grimes’s own website.
Every time the national press rediscovers Grimes, she reminds them why they should forget again. Alas, this commission was perhaps our last chance to discover whether she actually voted for Barack Obama for President. You may recall that a representative of this very newspaper asked Grimes during her 2014 Senate race whether she, a Democrat, had voted for Obama. Her dodges created the most painful 40 seconds in recent campaign memory. Oh well.
Grimes, having tilted this windmill, now faces an uncertain future. She’s term limited in 2019, perhaps plotting to seek another useless state office for which she’s unqualified and that should probably be dissolved anyhow, its duties disseminated among the prom committees of a few moderately sized Kentucky high schools.
If she seeks office again, Grimes must answer for her pitiful record of hypocrisy and adherence to job killing policies. A scant three years after slamming McConnell for being pro-China in a cynical ploy to win votes, she now travels to Asia on supposed economic development missions. It seems that Grimes, whose Senate campaign was linked to a racist Democratic strategist that slammed the Asian heritage of McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao, can’t get enough of our friends from the East these days.
Memo to Asia: the only thing Kentucky’s Secretary of State can do is charge you $15 to file an annual report. Beyond that, you need to call Governor Matt Bevin for any serious deal making. Grimes can’t do a thing for economic development, and in fact opposed legislative action that led to Braidy Industries locating a 550-job plant in Eastern Kentucky.
If Grimes had her way, the General Assembly would not have passed the right-to-work law that Braidy CEO Craig Bouchard said lured him to Ashland. Grimes is an old school job repellant in a town full of new, pro-growth conservatives, a lonely liberal throwback desperately clinging to the way things used to be.
With an open Secretary of State’s race around the corner in 2019, I may support Brynneth Pawltro for the job. Pawltro, a three-year-old pit bull recently elected Mayor of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, would have more electoral experience than did Grimes when she became Secretary in 2011. With Pawltro we’ll have an election watchdog whose bite matches her bark, and one who remembers the names of reporters on national television.
As long as Pawltro is talking to Woof Blitzer, everything will be fine.