Opinion: Saying nothing helps fraud against our democracy

Silence effectively helps the president and his lawyers.

  • Sunday, November 29, 2020 12:20am
  • Opinion

Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer wants to audit the results of the election reform initiative that Alaskan voters approved by a margin of just over 1 percentage point. He’s not questioning the outcome though. The problem, he said, is “misinformation that’s coming from the national level” about the integrity of the state’s Dominion Voting Systems.

More directly, the misinformation is an attempt by the occupant of the White House to convince Americans that, despite the total lack of evidence, the presidential election was marred by widespread fraud.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, who once served as Alaska’s attorney general, is smart enough to realize that. Which is why his refusal to speak out makes him an accessory to Donald Trump’s disgraceful con.

“We are a mature democracy. It is well past time that we stop excusing or ignoring — or worse, endorsing — these attacks on the truth, ” Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona told his colleagues on the floor of the U.S. Senate. “For if we compromise the truth for the sake of our politics, we are lost.”

That was almost three years ago. Flake was defending America’s free press in response to the “Fake News Awards” Trump planned to announce.

Last Sunday, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona endorsed the “fake news” theme by sharing an affidavit from a Texas security analyst while falsely claiming “leftist reporters” don’t want Americans to see it. The affidavit, which was included as evidence in an election lawsuit filed in Georgia, stated there is “a significant probability that election results have been manipulated within the Dominion/Premier system in Michigan.” The data appears to show more votes were cast than the number of registered voters in the Detroit area.

The day the lawsuit was filed, Trump tweeted Detroit had “FAR MORE VOTES THAN PEOPLE.”

The truth is, before Gosar’s tweet, numerous media sources, including the Washington Post, investigated the affidavit’s claims. The analysis was mistakenly based on election data from Minnesota, not Michigan. The attorney who filed the lawsuit admitted the affidavit was erroneous.

Gosar hasn’t corrected his mistake though. Neither has Trump, who doubled down by retweeting Gosar’s message on Tuesday and repeating the debunked claim again on Wednesday.

That’s “a major difference between politicians and the free press,” Flake reminded his colleagues. “The press usually corrects itself when it gets something wrong. Politicians don’t.”

Worse yet, Trump’s collaborators in Congress are sticking to their old trick of excusing or ignoring his mistakes and falsehoods.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is an exception. She hasn’t called Trump to the mat often enough or as directly as Flake did. But in this era of poisonous loyalties, she’s one of the few Republicans who congratulated Joe Biden after he won the election. And, this week, she acknowledged that the courts have found Trump’s legal cases to be “without merit” and condemned his “pressure campaign on state legislators to influence the electoral outcome.”

Where’s Sen. Dan Sullivan? Hiding somewhere with his tail between his legs.

True, he’s not amplifying Trump’s false allegations like Gosar. But what distinguishes Sullivan from the Arizona congressman is his oath as a lawyer not to “aid anyone in formulating or pursuing claims or defenses that are asserted in bad faith or are unfounded in fact or law” or “seek to mislead a judge” with false statements.

Sullivan fully understands why the judges have used extremely harsh language in dismissing Trump’s lawsuits. Not one has included credible evidence of fraud at any level. As a U.S. senator, his silence effectively helps the president and his lawyers undermine “the honor and dignity of the legal profession” he swore to uphold.

Not to excuse Gosar for failing to vet the evidence before he tweeted it to his followers, but he never took that oath. He’s a dentist.

Meyer isn’t a lawyer either. But he understands the importance of ensuring all Alaskans believe our “whole election process was done fairly, accurately and lawfully.”

It’s the system that sent Sullivan back to the Senate. Before he’s sworn in again, he ought to live up to his prior oaths.

“For without truth, and a principled fidelity to truth and to shared facts” Flake warned, “our democracy will not last.”

To preserve it, Sullivan can help by ensuring more Americans realize that Trump is fraudulently crying fraud.

• Rich Moniak is a Juneau resident and retired civil engineer with more than 25 years of experience working in the public sector. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a letter to the editor or My Turn.

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