Federal Judge Agrees with Secretary Raffensperger: DOJ Ordered to Release Documents

February 22nd, 2023

Atlanta – On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered the Department of Justice to comply with a request for documents from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger under the Freedom of Information Act. Shortly after passage of Georgia’s Elections Integrity Act the Justice Department sued Georgia, seeking to strike down provisions of the new law. In response to the Justice Department’s lawsuit against SB202, Secretary Raffensperger requested any communications that may have influenced the Department’s decision to challenge Georgia law.

“These documents should show the coordinated effort between liberal activists and the United States Department of Justice to use Georgia’s election reforms as a scapegoat for political losses,” said Raffensperger. “Considering how blatantly political the Biden lawsuit against Georgia’s commonsense election law was from the beginning, it’s no surprise they would stonewall our request for basic transparency,” he added. “I’m gratified that the court agreed that there should be no secrecy between the Biden Justice Department and liberal activists, and I will continue to fight for truth and integrity in Georgia’s elections.”

Shortly after The Election Integrity Act became law, the Department of Justice sued Georgia, seeking to strike it down. In response, Raffensperger requested documents under the Freedom of Information Act for records of the communication between DOJ and the liberal activist groups also opposed to Georgia’s election security reforms.

The records of communications between DOJ and the liberal activist groups are likely to show a pattern of political coordination between these groups and the Justice Department in support of their lawsuit. The Justice Department had previously refused to turn over any of these communications, describing liberal activist groups as “consultants” and the exchanges with them as “privileged.” In keeping the documents secret, the Justice Department argued that they established a common legal interest amongst the plaintiffs. The Court rejected this argument, noting that “the DOJ waived any privilege that could have attached vis-à-vis the other plaintiff groups.”

The Court agreed with the State that the records were not internal agency communications or made pursuant to a common interest agreement. The withheld communications “comprised discussions in advance of the [Justice] Department’s ultimate litigation decisions…” which suggest that the Justice Department actively engaged third-party activist groups in litigation decisions and strategy, and those discussions guided their lawsuit.

Raffensperger hopes the Justice Department would release the documents without delay. “Continued secrecy will only further erode the Department’s credibility. The Department should drop all appeals of this ruling and release these documents immediately.”

Georgia is recognized as a national leader in elections. It was the first state in the country to implement the trifecta of automatic voter registration, at least 17 days of early voting (which has been called the “gold standard”), and no-excuse absentee voting. Georgia continues to set records for voter turnout and election participation, seeing the largest increase in average turnout of any other state in the 2018 midterm election and record turnout in 2020, and 2022. 2022 achieved the largest single day of in-person early voting turnout in Georgia midterm history utilizing Georgia’s secure, paper ballot voting system.