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Heritage Foundation records sought in elections case

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

Groups challenging the constitutionality of a new Florida elections law are asking a federal judge to force the conservative Heritage Foundation and its lobbying arm to turn over documents about the development of the law.

The Florida State Conference of the NAACP, Common Cause and Disability Rights Florida filed an 18-page motion in federal court last week seeking to force the Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action for America to provide documents subpoenaed in the underlying challenge to the law (SB 90). The motion contends that Heritage was “intimately involved in meeting, conferring, and strategizing with key Florida legislators about SB 90” and that the documents could provide evidence about the law’s purpose and its drafting.

The subpoenas focus on information about communications between Heritage and state officials, according to the motion. “Plaintiffs’ subpoenas to Heritage seek a targeted set of highly relevant records bearing directly on plaintiffs’ claims and defendants’ arguments in the litigation,” the motion said. “Heritage was extensively involved in pushing for state legislation to restrict voting rights, including with respect to SB 90.

The specifics of its activities and interactions with Florida legislators and Florida’s governor leading up to SB 90’s passage and enactment are thus highly salient.” The motion said Heritage, which is not a party in the lawsuit, had declined to turn over the requested documents. U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks on Friday ordered Heritage to respond to the motion by Thursday.

The NAACP, Common Cause and Disability Rights Florida filed the lawsuit in May in Tallahassee, alleging that the law, which deals with issues such as voting by mail, is unconstitutional and is designed to suppress voting by groups such as Black residents. Supporters have argued the law would bolster election security. The motion to try to force Heritage to provide the documents was filed last week in South Florida because that is where a plaintiffs’ attorney is based.

News Service of Florida