Cleta Mitchell

Cleta Mitchell (Board Member)

Cleta Mitchell - NRA Board Member
Chair of the American Conservative Union Foundation, Attorney and Lobbyist with Foley & Lardner

Cleta Mitchell served as a Democratic member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1976-1984. At that time, Mitchell was considered a rising star in national Democratic politics, drawing comparisons to former Texas Governor Ann Richards. After leaving the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Mitchell divorced Duane Draper, her husband of nine years, citing incompatibility and entered into private practice as an attorney in Oklahoma [Draper, whose male companion was mentioned in his obituary, later served as director of AIDS programs for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health until this death from AIDS in 1991]. Moving to Washington, D.C. in the early 1990s, Mitchell became a high-profile election law attorney for Republican political candidates. Some of Mitchell’s past and present clients include Senator Elizabeth Dole, Senator Jim Inhofe, Senator David Vitter, Senator Roy Blunt, Representative Tom Cole, Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Joe Miller, and Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum.

C-SPAN

Controversial Actions and Statements

Controversial Actions and Statements:

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Cleta Mitchell (Board Member)

On August 25, 2012, in an interview with NPR, Mitchell spoke about Voter ID laws, which require individuals to present certain types of photo identification at the polls. Voter ID laws have been passed in Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Mitchell stated, "I am not trying to keep anyone out of the polling place. ... We want to make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat. I just don't know why that's controversial … If people are choosing to exercise their right to vote, there's some responsibility that accompanies that. Do we not think that something as precious as the right to vote is worth going to a little bit of trouble to obtain?" Voter ID laws in South Carolina and Florida have been challenged in court by the Department of Justice over allegations that they disenfranchise minorities. Furthermore, research has shown that in-person voter fraud of the kind Cooper warns about is extremely rare in the United States.

Race | Voting Rights
2012/08/25

Cleta Mitchell (Board Member)

On November 2, 2011, the Minnesota Independent reported that Mitchell would serve as the primary lobbyist for National Organization for Marriage’s campaign to ban gay marriage in Minnesota through a ballot initiative. In response to Mitchell’s lobbying activities, Human Rights Campaign dropped the law firm that employs Mitchell (Foley & Lardner) from a perfect score to one of the lowest on the organization’s Corporate Equality Index.

Gay Rights
2011-11-02

Cleta Mitchell (Board Member)

Mitchell led opposition to a decision by the American Conservative Union (ACU) to allow GOProud, a gay conservative group, to participate in the 2011 CPAC conference. GOProud Board Chairman Chris Barron called Mitchell a “nasty bigot” in response to her efforts to shut out his organization.

Gay Rights
2011-02-01

Cleta Mitchell (Board Member)

Mitchell served as an “attack attorney” for many Tea Party Congressional candidates during the 2010 elections, including Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell and Joe Miller. She has suggested that the Democratic Party’s “tricks” include widespread engagement in voter fraud. Mitchell famously wrote a fundraising letter on behalf of Angle where she accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of attempting to steal the election. Mitchell also accused the Democratic party of stealing the 2002 South Dakota senate election, where Senator Tim Johnson was victorious over Senator John Thune. Both Angle and Miller have been involved in high-profile controversies surrounding guns and the Second Amendment.

Republican Party (GOP) |
2010-10-01

Cleta Mitchell (Board Member)

Mitchell served as the attorney for the American Issues Project, a group that ran a television ad falsely accusing President Barack Obama of having a close personal relationship with former-Weather Underground member Bill Ayers in the months prior to the 2008 presidential election. Because AIP’s tax-exempt status makes it illegal for the organization to have a mission that is primarily political, the legality of the ad was questioned by elections experts. Laura MacCleery, Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, called the ad a “clear abuse of federal election law.” Fox News declined to air the spot.

2008-08-01

Cleta Mitchell (Board Member)

In 2006, Mitchell appeared on MSNBC to defend a number of Republicans embroiled in ethical scandals. Of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Mitchell said, “Those allegations, the indictment against Tom DeLay, were completely politically motivated.” She then bet public relations strategist Cliff Schecter dinner that DeLay would not go to jail. In January 2011, DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison for money laundering.

Political Corruption | Republican Party (GOP) |
2006-01-01

Cleta Mitchell (Board Member)

In May 2005, Mitchell served as the Master of Ceremonies at an ACU event honoring U.S. Representative Tom Delay (R-TX), who was embroiled in ethics investigations (and has since been convicted of money laundering). After telling those in attendance that she and other conservatives “love” DeLay, Mitchell claimed he was under investigation only because he is “effective.” She also declared, “The tribute is a statement to him: You're not alone. We'll stand by you. And it's to say to people in this town: If you pick a fight with him, you've got us to contend with.

Political Corruption | Republican Party (GOP) |
2005-05-01
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