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Eyeing majority, House GOP mulls election investigations

House Republicans planning to take control of the chamber in this year’s midterms are weighing how much of a priority to make examining election systems and laws. 

Some conservatives, particularly the most vocal of Trump supporters, are pointing to perceived issues in the 2020 election that they think deserve attention.  

But GOP leaders are already set to spend considerable time and energy on an avalanche of planned investigations and probes on other issues, and some in the party are wary of relitigating 2020 election fraud claims rather than conducting general election oversight. 

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) led a letter signed by 10 other Republicans last week to House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) asking for hearings to “investigate the potential illegal activities revealed in the documentary film 2000 Mules.”  

The film, produced by conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, examines whether thousands of “mules” were paid to stuff drop boxes with ballots, pointing to surveillance video and cellphone location tracking data. Numerous fact-checkers have said that the film does not show definitive evidence of widespread voter fraud, and former Attorney General William Barr told the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot that he was “unimpressed” with the movie. 

D’Souza, however, was encouraged by Biggs’s letter, calling it an indication of Republican priorities next year. 

“The GOP moves slowly, but it’s moving now,” he tweeted in response to the letter. “Wait and see what happens after the midterms when we take the House!” 

Biggs said he would “love” an Oversight Committee hearing on the issues raised in the movie either “now or later.” And when asked, other Republicans express interest in probing those issues as well. 

“I do think that the movie raises some serious allegations that should be investigated, and the only way you can determine whether something’s valid or not is to do a thorough investigation,” said Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), chair of the House Republican Policy Committee, adding that it’s “inevitable” that Republicans look into election administration matters next year. 

But others want to keep focus on the issues they say are motivating the midterm voters they need to win control of the chamber in the first place. 

“We’ve got to focus on fuel, food, crime, education, border,” Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), chief deputy whip for the House GOP, said when asked about Biggs’s letter and probing election systems in general. 

A New York Times-Siena College national survey of registered voters this month found that the economy and inflation were most often cited as the most important problem facing the country today. Just 3 percent of Republicans and 1 percent of independents named election integrity as the most important issue. 

The Republican preparing to take over the House Oversight and Reform Committee gavel in a GOP majority, ranking member James Comer (R-Ky.), is preparing for investigations and hearings into the origins of COVID-19, management of the border and Hunter Biden’s overseas business activities. The committee with jurisdiction to investigate election fraud and irregularities, Comer said, would be the House Administration Committee, not his. 

The ranking member on that committee, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), will not be in Congress next year because Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) defeated him in a primary last month. And the other GOP members on the committee, Reps. Barry Loudermilk (Ga.) and Bryan Steil (Wis.), have not been specific about the kind of election oversight activities they expect in a GOP majority. 

“We’ll have conversations about the importance of election integrity. What shape that takes, I don’t know. We’ll see who the next chairman is,” Steil said.  

Loudermilk said that the committee is leaving most of the investigation into elections to individual states. 

“We will be working on election integrity issues, but as far as investigating the 2020 elections, I don’t know that that is currently in our set of objectives to dig deeply into it,” Loudermilk said. “But we’ll take a look at that at the time.” 

Some House GOP probes overlap with election matters without getting into the weeds of election administration. Earlier this year, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee started an investigation into suppression of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saying that “election integrity is threatened when Big Tech censors real stories.” 

Members who want to probe election issues also want investigations into numerous other issues and are not necessarily putting election integrity as a higher priority. 

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.) stressed that having trust in elections is essential to a free republic and said that investigations into election systems have to be on the table. But he also mentioned the border, crime and inflation as important issues. 

“There’s a cornucopia of problems that are plaguing the American people right now,” Perry said. 

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), who signed on to Biggs’s letter, said she would like to see hearings on elections and presentations about the cellphone data discussed in “2000 Mules.”  

“I think our priorities, first and foremost, should be getting inflation under control and gasoline prices down. So there’s a lot of priorities, but election integrity is important,” Lesko said. 

“It’s whack-a-mole on crazy every single day up here,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas). Along with examining elections, he called for “significant oversight” of the border, potential abuse of power in the Department of Justice and public health policies. 

“I don’t know where it all falls in the batting order, but all these things need oversight,” Roy said. 

Tags 2022 midterm elections Andy Biggs Barry Loudermilk Bryan Steil Carolyn Maloney Chip Roy Debbie Lesko Dinesh D'Souza Drew Ferguson Gary Palmer House GOP House majority Hunter Biden James Comer Kevin McCarthy Mary Miller Rodney Davis Scott Perry William Barr

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