Democrat: North Dakota's new elections chief 'ineffective'
BISMARCK (AP) — North Dakota’s secretary of state says he has no problem with the state’s new elections director, despite complaints that he undermined election security work, created a toxic work environment and broke the law in his previous roles elsewhere.
Brian Newby, who was executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission from 2015 to 2019, started working for North Dakota’s secretary of state’s office in mid-December.
Deflecting criticism from Democratic state leaders, Republican Secretary of State Al Jaeger said Monday that he and Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum reviewed Newby’s background and experience. They found him to be the most qualified candidate of about a dozen who applied, Jaeger said.
“We’re very comfortable with him,” Jaeger said. “We wouldn’t have made that decision if we didn’t know everything that we do know about those circumstances and stuff.”
Politico last year reported management troubles at the federal elections agency under Newby’s tenure, including allegations that he blocked election and cybersecurity development and training.
In 2016, a federal appeals court blocked Newby’s decision to grant requests from Alabama, Georgia and Kansas to require proof of citizenship on a federal form for voter registration. Voting rights groups alleged that Newby illegally changed proof-of-citizenship requirements on the federal registration form at the behest of the three states.
Newby told The Bismarck Tribune that he’s proud of what he accomplished with the federal agency and blamed the “political environment” for the allegations leveled against him.
Politico later reported that the commission voted 2-2 on party lines in September not to renew the four-year terms of Newby and the commission’s general counsel.