The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative intends to cooperate with a liberal legal organization that routinely sues over voter ID laws as part of its strategic plan to comply with President Joe Biden’s executive order to get out the vote. 

USTR, an agency within the Executive Office of the President, included working with the Brennan Center for Justice, among other organizations, in the plan obtained by The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project through the Freedom of Information Act. The center, a legal advocacy group, is  based at New York University.

The plan to implement Biden’s order on getting out the vote drafted by the trade representative’s office says:

USTR will develop annual social media posts on key dates that are important to voting engagement including: National Voter Registration Day (4th Tuesday in September); Election Day (1st Tuesday in November); 15th Amendment anniversary re: Black men suffrage (February 3rd); 19th Amendment Anniversary (August 18th); and National Voter Registration Act (May 20th).

In addition to featuring senior USTR officials, USTR will seek to partner with nonpartisan, public service and civic engagement organizations (e.g., Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Brennan Center for Justice) in developing and amplifying content for these online engagements.

Biden nominated lawyer Katherine Tai as his U.S. trade representative to lead the office as his principal trade adviser and negotiator; the Senate confirmed her in March 2021. 

The USTR’s strategic plan describes the agency as “a component of the Executive Office of the President (EOP)” and “a Cabinet-level agency responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity, and direct investment policy, and overseeing trade negotiations with other countries in bilateral, plurilateral, and multilateral discussions and institutions.”

The plan crafted by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative also indicates its election-related activities will have a budget impact for the agency, but that it was undetermined as yet based on the “approximate timeframe for implementation.”

On its website, the Brennan Center lists multiple court cases opposing voter ID, advocating use of mail-in voting, and regarding the drawing of congressional and legislative districts. 

The left-leaning organization also characterizes as “purges” efforts by states to update voter registration lists to do away with the names of dead voters, or those who moved to other jurisdictions.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which the USTR plan mentions as a partner, has opposed redistricting and apportionment based on eligible voting population, and for including noncitizens in the count for legislative and congressional districts, according to the Capital Research Center, an investigative think tank that monitors nonprofits. The organization also has advocated noncitizen voting in some local jurisdictions.  

Asian Americans Advancing Justice engages in litigation regarding voting rights and affirmative action. The National Pan-Hellenic Council is an association of sororities and fraternities.

Release of the records comes after the revelation that Biden administration agencies have partnered with other transparently left-leaning organizations, including Demos and the American Civil Liberties Union, to help implement Biden’s Executive Order 14019 aimed at boosting voting. 

Republican state legislators in Pennsylvania have sued to block Biden’s executive order from being used in their state, while Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives advanced legislation to deny funding to implement the order. 

“This executive order is so dangerous, and you could potentially be up to $1 billion [to fund it],” Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., co-chairwoman of the House Election Integrity Caucus, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“When Zuckerbucks looked really bad with $419 million, this is up to $1 billion. But you have every major federal agency engaged in the business of trying to create drop boxes and push their constituencies,” Tenney said.

Tenney and many other conservative advocates of election reforms have compared Biden’s executive order to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s donating $419 million in 2020 for grants to administer elections, which critics say disproportionately went to heavily Democrat areas. 

GOP lawmakers contend that the president’s executive order puts the federal government’s thumb on the scale in elections, which are supposed to be the purview of states. They argue that it also could prompt federal employees to violate the Hatch Act, which bars them from political activity on government time or using government resources.

The Biden administration has ignored requests about implementation of the president’s order from over 50 members of Congress. Most of the information about it has surfaced through FOIA requests. 

The Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative legal organization, is suing the Justice Department for refusing to release its own strategic plan to implement Biden’s get-out-the-vote order. 

“I don’t think they [the Biden administration] are proud about this. I think it’s a mission to get as many votes in as possible,” Tenney told The Daily Signal. “They have built-in constituencies—the unions, a lot of these federal employees, people in HUD developments—they are using to try to get these votes that could make a difference in these swing states, which could decide our election.”

Although the Brennan Center routinely has opposed and litigated against voter ID laws, the trade representative’s office says in the strategic plan that it would coordinate with the Executive Office of the President’s administrative office to comply with voter ID laws. 

“The employee IDs for USTR employees are issued by the EOP Office of Administration,” the plan says. “EOP/OA is responsible for issues concerning whether these identity documents satisfy state voter identification laws.”

The plan adds:  “In a manner consistent with the Hatch Act, USTR will promote the goals of Executive Order 14019 of March 7, 2021, titled Promoting Access to Voting.”

The agency’s plan later explains how the trade representative’s office will promote voting among the 250 USTR employees located in the U.S., in Geneva, Switzerland, and at U.S. diplomatic facilities in the European Union, Mexico, and China. 

The plan notes:

USTR provides training for all employees on acceptable election activities including voting [and] volunteer service for voter registration and as a poll worker. In consultation with the Chief Human Capitol [sic] Officers Council (CHOC), the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Administration will share policy guidance with USTR employees assigned overseas. CHOC is considering issuing guidance on administrative leave rules and other flexibilities. USTR will provide information to employees on voter registration, participation, and related policies.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative didn’t respond to The Daily Signal’s inquiries before publication of this report. 

Neither the Brennan Center for Justice nor the other named organizations responded to requests for comment.  

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