Cleta Mitchell Exits Election Advisory Board Amid Public Pressure Campaign

 April 13, 2024

In a significant development within U.S. election integrity and administration, Cleta Mitchell, a notable figure aligned with former President Donald Trump's 2020 campaign efforts, finds herself at the center of an explosive conclusion to her tenure on an influential advisory board.

Daily Caller News Foundation reported that Cleta Mitchell was not reappointed to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) advisory board after an activist group threatened to criticize the appointing agency over her continued involvement. 

Cleta Mitchell, who joined the EAC advisory board in November 2021, has been contentious due to her legal advisory role in Trump’s 2020 electoral campaign and involvement in a disputed call regarding election outcomes. This backdrop set the stage for the activist organization Free Speech for People, under the leadership of John Bonifaz, to wield significant public pressure against her reappointment.

The campaign against Mitchell’s position gained momentum with an ultimatum: Free Speech for People threatened to initiate a public criticism campaign against the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) if it proceeded with her reappointment.

The warning was conveyed in an email from John Bonifaz to USCCR General Counsel David Ganz on November 28, 2023, indicating a pivotal moment in the debate over Mitchell’s role.

Free Speech for People's Vigorous Advocacy Leads to Unprecedented Move

John Bonifaz elaborated on their stance in a forceful communication, stressing the immediacy and intensity of their proposed action if their demands were not met.

I am writing as a courtesy to let you know that, unless we hear from you by tomorrow, November 29, at 5 pm ET that the USCCR has decided not to reappoint Cleta Mitchell, we plan to launch a public campaign criticizing the USCCR for this decision, including by publicizing a copy of your 10/5/23 email below to me, which as you know is public record. I wanted to let you know about this so you’re not surprised if e.g. you or the Commission receive media calls.

This marked a definitive chapter in the ongoing confrontations between advocacy groups and political figures over the sanctity of the U.S. electoral process. Indeed, Mitchell's past actions, particularly her volunteer legal work for Trump and participation in a pivotal phone call, have made her a lightning rod for criticism from various quarters.

Additionally, Free Speech for People's efforts extend beyond Mitchell, showcasing their broader campaign to challenge figures associated with the 2020 election's contested narratives. Their previous attempts to disqualify Trump from the 2024 ballot, citing constitutional grounds, underline the high stakes involved in these advocacy efforts.

Reactions and Outcomes: A Divisive Figure Steps Down

Amidst this backdrop of tension and turmoil, the USCCR eventually informed the EAC of its decision not to reappoint Mitchell, a move that did not go unnoticed.

Free Speech for People viewed Mitchell’s removal as a significant victory for democratic norms, a sentiment echoed by John Bonifaz, who hailed the decision as a “triumph for our democracy.” Cleta Mitchell, on the other hand, criticized the campaign against her, highlighting the paradox she believes it represents.

In conclusion, the saga of Cleta Mitchell's tenure and departure from the EAC advisory board encapsulates the deeply polarized nature of election oversight and administration in contemporary America.

The campaign led by Free Speech for People against her reappointment underscores the fraught landscape of U.S. electoral politics, where advocacy, legal challenges, and public pressure converge to shape the discourse around democracy and its custodians.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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