It’s March, and we’re still debating the 2020 presidential election. Not about the consequences, mind you, but about who was elected.
We’re not talking about you-know-who or anyone else in a position of authority. In fact, despite being much more powerful than I will ever be, Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks will most likely be remembered as the answer to a trivia question.
Miller-Meeks won her seat in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District by just six votes in one of the year’s most closely contested — and acrimonious — House elections. The state of Iowa certified her victory, and she was elected to the 117th Congress.
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Now, her opponent, Democrat Rita Hart, wants House Democrats to overturn the election results and remove Miller-Meeks from office — something I was recently informed was a Very Bad Thing, given all the hullabaloo surrounding you-know-who. According to the Iowa City Press Citizen, her case hinges on 22 ballots that were uncounted for a variety of reasons, including signatures in the wrong place, opened seals, and machines that wouldn’t accept them. Hart claims that if those votes are counted, she will win.
She’ll present her case to the House Administration Committee, where she’ll be represented by Mark Elias, a powerful Washington attorney. He works for Perkins Coie, a law firm with ties to Democrats and DeMint.
According to the letter, Elias and Perkins Coie also represent Pete Aguilar of California and Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania.
And this won’t be the only time Elias will be representing a client in front of the committee. According to WMAQ-TV, Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood is facing an election challenge from Jim Oberweis in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District, and she will be represented by Elias as well.
However, Underwood’s case is essentially a formality; Oberweis is alleging election fraud, but with Underwood’s 5,300-vote margin, good luck with that.
The Miller-Meeks/Hart case has a much better chance of making it to the full House for a vote, which is why it’s a problem — especially since GOP committee members claim the deal violates American Bar Association ethics rules.
The letter stated that “Rule 1.7 of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct expressly prohibits an attorney from engaging in representation that includes a dual conflict of interest.”
“There is a conflict here: you, Mr. Aguilar, and Ms. Scanlon serve on a tribunal charged with deciding election contests, and Mr. Elias represents you; Ms. Hart and Ms. Underwood are parties to election contests before the Committee, and Mr. Elias represents them.”
“We are gravely concerned that these serious conflicts of interest and ethical lapses on the part of counsel jeopardize the Committee’s work, and, more specifically, demonstrate that the Democratic Members of this Committee operate solely for partisan, political gain,” the letter continued.
Although overturning a state-certified result is rare, the House is ultimately the final judge in any of its elections.
According to CNN, the House of Representatives heard 107 contested cases between 1933 and 2009, but only three were overturned; a vacancy was declared in another.
Miller-Meeks’ legal team also objects to Hart’s decision to take the case to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives rather than to the courts.
According to CNN, Miller-Meeks’ attorney, Alan Ostergren, said, “Our focus is on the fact that we have a certificate of election, and that there was a procedure that Hart could have selected that was based on law, administered by judges, that she bypassed in favor of one administered by her own political party.”
“Almost exclusively on their 22 ballots, the argument is that state law should not matter,” he said. “You’ve made a very troubling argument.”
What’s interesting is that a party that was all for states counting their ballots according to their own rules (and changing those rules on a regular basis, sometimes illegally) during the 2020 election is now determined to decide which ballots Iowa can count in this race. Even more intriguing is the fact that the same party screamed like wounded donkeys about anyone attempting to “overturn” the 2020 election.
“They were complaining because Republicans refused to tell the public that Biden had won the election on November 4, the day after the election, and now they’re playing this game?” Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, a Republican, said, “It just doesn’t add up.”
It does, sadly, when you consider the Democrats’ 219-211 House majority. And if you think this is going to be about evidence, consider Mark Elias’ conflict of interest, which the Democrats have so far been willing to overlook.