Wednesday, May 23

It's the Voter Suppression, Stupid

During her opening statement of her congressional testimony Monica Goodling let slip a little nugget that might go unnoticed but shouldn't.

Tim Griffin was allegedly involved in Voter Caging during the 2004 Elections.

During her questioning Rep Linda Sanchez, who was unfamiliar with the term asked - "What is Voter Caging?"

Monica answered...

It has to do with direct mailing...

As a matter of fact, it has to do with far, far more than just sending out a few postcards.

From Wikipedia.

Caging is a term of art in the direct mail industry. After a mailing is sent, caging is when information is processed that can be learned from the returns. A caging list is the compiled information that is transferred to the organization that hired the direct mail firm, in order for them to update their mailing lists and databases.

Ok, so what?

This what.

Caging has also been used as a form of voter suppression. A political party challenges the validity of a voter's registration; for the voter's ballot to be counted, the voter must prove that their registration is valid.

Voters targeted by caging are often the most vulnerable: those who are unfamiliar with their rights under the law, and those who cannot spare the time, effort, and expense of proving that their registration is valid. Ultimately, caging works by dissuading a voter from casting a ballot, or by ensuring that they cast a provisional ballot, which is less likely to be counted.

With one type of caging, a political party sends registered mail to addresses of registered voters. If the mail is returned as undeliverable - because, for example, the voter refuses to sign for it, the voter isn't present for delivery, or the voter is homeless - the party uses that fact to challenge the registration, arguing that because the voter could not be reached at the address, the registration is fraudulent. It is this use of direct mail caging techniques to target voters which probably resulted in the application of the name to the political tactic.

And why does this matter? Because it's a direct violation of the Federal Voting Rights Act.

On the day of the election, when the voter arrives at the poll and requests a ballot, an operative of the party challenges the validity of their registration.

While the challenge process is prescribed by law, the use of broad, partisan challenges is controversial. For example, in the United States Presidential Election of 2004, the Republican Party employed this process to challenge the validity of tens of thousands of voter registrations in contested states like Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Hey don't those particular states sound familiar. What could it be.. hmm what - oh yeah, I know.

Fired U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden - Nevada.
Fired U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic - Wisconsin.

Temporarily included on the Firing List - U.S. Attorney Gregory Miller - Florida.

As noted by Josh Marshall, U.S. Attorney's were fired from seven out of Nine "Battleground States" as identified by Karl Rove's Office, which as it turns out happened to employ Tim Griffin following the 2004 Election.

And by the way - let me repeat - Caging is Illegal.

The Republican Party argued that the challenges were necessary to combat widespread voter fraud. The Democratic Party countered that the challenges were tantamount to voter suppression, and further argued that the Republican Party had targeted voter registrations on the basis of the race of the voter, in violation of federal law.

It's one thing to simply send out mail and request that a voter who have not cast a vote in the last two Presidential elections verify that their registration is still valid. This is one method of helping ensure for example that the old Chicago tactic of having dead people vote, can be avoided. It's another to specifically target Democrats without doing to same thing to Republicans and then subsequently removed them from the rolls so that their votes won't be counted.

Here's more from Greg Palast at Truthout on how this strategy was used against African-American Servicemen serving in Iraq.

Here's how the scheme worked: The RNC mailed these voters letters in envelopes marked, "Do not forward", to be returned to the sender. These letters were mailed to servicemen and women, some stationed overseas, to their US home addresses. The letters then returned to the Bush-Cheney campaign as "undeliverable."

The lists of soldiers of "undeliverable" letters were transmitted from state headquarters, in this case Florida, to the RNC in Washington. The party could then challenge the voters' registration and thereby prevent their absentee ballot being counted.

Over one million provisional ballots cast in the 2004 race were never counted; over half a million absentee ballots were also rejected. The extraordinary rise in the number of rejected ballots was the result of the widespread multi-state voter challenge campaign by the Republican Party. The operation, of which the purge of Black soldiers was a small part, was the first mass challenge to voting America had seen in two decades.

How exactly was Tim Griffin involved in all this?

Well, it seems he only ran the entire operation.

Voting rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has called for prison time for the new US Attorney for Arkansas, Timothy Griffin and investigation of Griffin’s former boss, Karl Rove, chief political advisor to President Bush.

“Timothy Griffin,” said Kennedy,”who is the new US attorney in Arkansas, was actually the mastermind behind the voter fraud efforts by the Bush Administration to disenfranchise over a million voters through ‘caging’ techniques - which are illegal.”

Ok, here's something really interesting in the Palast article - you want to know how Monica (who used to be Tim's assistant at the RNC in 2000) knew about the Caging allegations against Griffin? Griffin sent her quotes from Palast's Book and bragged that "U.S. Media hasn't picked the story up".

Palast first reported on the caging list operation for BBC Television’s premier current affairs show, Newsnight, in 2004. In a February 7, 2007 email obtained by subpoena from Rove’s office, Griffin boasted that, “No [US] national media picked up” the BBC story. Griffin attached an excerpt of Armed Madhouse.

Griffin sent his remarks to Monica Goodling, Senior Counsel to Attorney General Gonzales, who has since resigned and invoked the Fifth Amendment rather than answer Congressional questions.

Well, she's answering questions now. But one question we don't have to ask her - thanks again to Josh Marshall - is why she's so chummy with Tim Griffin? Well, you see - she used to work for Griffin doing opposition research for the RNC.

Under questioning by my own representative Maxine Waters, Goodling revealed that she did in fact use her "oppo research skills" to help torpedo and/or delay prospective appointees and career DOJ officials who she thought were "too Liberal".

But it was under questioning by Rep. Bobby Scott that the ramifications of this were made crystal clear when she was asked "Did you break the law [when you used a political litmus test within DOJ hiring]"

Goodling: that’s not a conclusion for me to make. But I do know I crossed the line.

Scott: Which Line?

Goodling: I crossed the line of the civil service rules.

Scott: Rules? Laws! You crossed the line on civil service laws, is that right?

Goodling: I didn't mean to... I don’t believe I intended to commit a crime

Yeah, well you did babycakes.

The Justice Department is investigating whether its former White House liaison used political affiliation in deciding who to hire as entry-level prosecutors in U.S. attorneys' offices around the country, The Associated Press has learned.

Doing so is a violation of federal law.

Isn't it beyond galling that someone who worked as an assistant to Alberto Gonzales, a person who was charged with overseeing the hiring of not just the political appointees, but the career employees also - doesn't know the Fracking LAW!.

Just like her comments about Tim Griffin and caging.

Goodling: I don't believe he intended to do anything wrong...

It was illegal as all hell, but gee - it wasn't wrong.

Maybe, just maybe - the fact that Griffin was known to be involved in an effort to violate Federal Voting Laws was why the Attorney General specifically avoided Senate Confirmation for his appointment to Arkansas?

I'm just saying...


Also posted yesterday following the hearings, Chairman John Conyers posted his own summary of Goodling's testimony and found at least five more trouble spots for the Bush Administration. According to Conyers Goodling revealed that:

- Paul McNulty lied to the Senate regarding the role of Sen. Pete Dominici and the firing of David Iglesias. (Perjury)

- Alberto Gonzales attempted to "coach" her as a Witness. (Witness Tampering)

- The White House was intimately involved in the firings and signed off on all of them. (Possible Obstruction of Justice)

- Goodling admited to violating the laws regarding political discrimination in the DOJ.

- Todd Graves was the Ninth Attorney fired.

Conyers also pointed at that so far no one in Justice seems to know exactly who decided to put anyone on the list. Goodling doesn't know. Sampson doesn't know (although he should since he made the list). McNulty doesn't know and Gonzales doesn't know, therefore the process of elimination indicates that someone outside of Justice was directing things, most likely from the White House.


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