On Special Report, Bream said "election law experts say" but quoted only former Bush FEC appointee
Reporting on the Minnesota Senate race, Shannon Bream stated that "election law experts say" a Supreme Court challenge "may be the only way to satisfy everyone." However, Bream cited only one "election law expert" -- a controversial former Bush appointee to the FEC.
On the May 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report, while reporting on the undecided Senate race in Minnesota, Supreme Court reporter Shannon Bream stated that although a challenge by Norm Coleman (R) to the Supreme Court "is a long shot that could take years, election law experts say it may be the only way to satisfy everyone." However, in making this claim, Bream cited only one "election law expert" -- Hans von Spakovsky from the Heritage Foundation, a controversial former Bush appointee to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) -- who asserted that "[i]f you don't deal with all of the issues that have been raised in this case, then, you know, a lot of people are going to be questioning whether the real winner, who actually ends up with the seat, was the person who really won the race." Bream did not report that other "election law experts" disagree with von Spakovsky.
By contrast, the Minneapolis Star Tribune also quoted von Spakovsky -- identified as "a former Federal Elections commissioner and point man on voting rights in the Bush administration's Justice Department" -- but reported that "[o]ther legal scholars differ." The Star Tribune continued: "Among them is Hamline University and University of Minnesota public policy and law Prof. David Schultz, who said the judges followed Minnesota law in not permitting an additional 4,000 disputed ballots" and quoted Schultz stating, "The Equal Protection clause [of the U.S. Constitution] does not guarantee a perfect election."
Von Spakovsky is a former chairman of the Fulton County Republican Party in Georgia, served in President Bush's Justice Department before his controversial nomination to the FEC as a Republican, and has since been identified in subsequent news reports as a Republican.
From the May 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
BAIER: With Arlen Specter bolting the Republican Party, Democrats are close to a dominant position in the Senate. Correspondent Shannon Bream reports that raises the stakes for Minnesota's still-undecided race.
[begin video clip]
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): People of Minnesota are entitled to representation in the Senate.
BREAM: But it could be months, even years, before Minnesotans get either Republican Norm Coleman or Democrat Al Franken. Their ongoing legal battle is getting renewed attention now that former Republican Senator Arlen Specter has switched parties.
A win by Franken could give Democrats a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority. And that means Republicans aren't likely to give up the seat without a fight.
DURBIN: John Cornyn, the Republican senator from Texas, has said as head of the Senate campaign committee, he wants to fight it in federal court. And he said, if necessary, it will take years to fight this Minnesota Senate seat. That's really unfortunate, and I think unfair.
BREAM: Senator Cornyn is head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which issued this statement today, quote: "It's blatant hypocrisy that many of the same Democrats who so loudly complained about voter disenfranchisement during the 2000 Florida recount have been so willing to compromise their principles when it no longer fits their political agenda."
Next up in the showdown: a date at the Minnesota Supreme Court. Two of the seven state justices have already removed themselves from the case because they were involved in earlier recounts. Three others may have conflicts as well based on past political donations.
If Coleman ultimately loses there, heading into the federal court system on a constitutional challenge will certainly be an option. And though getting to the U.S. Supreme Court is a long shot that could take years, election law experts say it may be the only way to satisfy everyone.
VON SPAKOVSKY: If you don't deal with all of the issues that have been raised in this case, then, you know, a lot of people are going to be questioning whether the real winner, who actually ends up with the seat, was the person who really won the race. And that's not good for the kind of election process that we have.
[end video clip]
BREAM: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has pledged not to certify a winner until every legal appeal has been exhausted. But he is yet to clarify if that means just his state's highest court, or all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In Washington, Shannon Bream, Fox News.