Monday, May 14

WaPo: Voter Fraud Complaints by GOP Drove DOJ Dismissals

As we've long suspected, and has been reported by Keith Olbermann and Democracy Now, the Washington Post has fully now joined the increasingly loud refrain that the 8 (or was it 9, 10 or 12?) purged U.S. Attorneys were dismissed because they didn't persue Karl Rove's pet project of disenfranchising Democratic voters vigorously enough.

Nearly half the U.S. attorneys slated for removal by the administration last year were targets of Republican complaints that they were lax on voter fraud, including efforts by presidential adviser Karl Rove to encourage more prosecutions of election- law violations, according to new documents and interviews.

Of the 12 U.S. attorneys known to have been dismissed or considered for removal last year, five were identified by Rove or other administration officials as working in districts that were trouble spots for voter fraud -- Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee; New Mexico; Nevada; and Washington state. Four of the five prosecutors in those districts were dismissed.


It has been clear for months that the administration's eagerness to launch voter-fraud prosecutions played a role in some of the firings, but recent testimony, documents and interviews show the issue was more central than previously known. The new details include the names of additional prosecutors who were targeted and other districts that were of concern, as well as previously unknown information about the White House's role.

The Justice Department demanded that one U.S. attorney, Todd P. Graves of Kansas City, resign in January 2006, several months after he refused to sign off on a Justice lawsuit involving the state's voter rolls, Graves said last week. U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic of Milwaukee also was targeted last fall after complaints from Rove that he was not doing enough about voter fraud. But he was spared because Justice officials feared that removing him might cause political problems on Capitol Hill, according to interviews of Justice aides conducted by congressional staff members.

Just like the now infamous PowerPoint Presentation at the GSA (and 20 other agencies), Rove sent similar type of charts and graphs of voting pattens to Gonzales for investigation.

Last October, just weeks before the midterm elections, Rove's office sent a 26-page packet to Gonzales's office containing precinct-level voting data about Milwaukee. A Justice aide told congressional investigators that he quickly put the package aside, concerned that taking action would violate strict rules against investigations shortly before elections, according to statements disclosed this week.

That aide, senior counselor Matthew Friedrich, turned over notes to Congress that detailed a telephone conversation about voter fraud with another Justice official, Benton Campbell, chief of staff for the Criminal Division. Friedrich had asked Campbell for his assessment of Rove's complaints about problems in New Mexico, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, according to a congressional aide familiar with Friedrich's remarks.

The key question however is this... was there really that much voter fraud, or was it possible that all the GOP needed was a little suppresion to get a lot of key districts to flip their way?

Rick Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School who runs an election law blog, said that "there's no question that Karl Rove and other political operatives" urged Justice officials to apply pressure on U.S. attorneys to pursue voter-fraud allegations in parts of the country that were critical to the GOP.

Hasen said it remains unclear, however, "whether they believed there was a lot of fraud and U.S. attorneys would ferret it out, or whether they believed there wasn't a lot of fraud but the allegations would serve political purposes."

Personally I suspect it's the later, particularly since at least one judge has already thrown out a similar DOJ voter fraud case as being totally without merit. From my favorite News Site - Thinkprogress.

In 2005, the Justice Department sued Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) for not keeping the state’s voting records up-to-date. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey sharply criticized the Justice Department’s weak case and ruled in favor of Carnahan:

Laughrey said it was difficult to gauge the scope of the problem "because the United States has not presented the actual voter registration lists and shown who should have been included or excluded and why."

"It is also telling that the United States has not shown that any Missouri resident was denied his or her right to vote as a result of deficiencies alleged by the United States," Laughrey wrote. "Nor has the United States shown that any voter fraud has occurred."

The case was led by the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, Bradley Schlozman, who earlier served in the Justice Department’s civil rights division. In 2005, he reversed the career staff’s recommendations to challenge a Georgia photo-ID law that a federal judge later likened to a "modern-day poll tax."

The prosecution of Carnahan was prompted by his failure to implement the kind of purging of the voter rolls in minority districts that we saw in Ohio in 2004. An act which may have affected over 300,000 likely Democratic Voters and essentially ensured that George W. Bush would retain the Whitehouse. Since it worked so well then, why not do it again in 2006, eh?

Too bad not everyone wanted to "play ball". Oh and just for the record, Bradley Schlozman, in case you missed the connection is the USA who replaced Todd Graves. Obviously Brad did "Play Ball".

... in March 2006, Graves was replaced by a new US attorney — one who had no prosecutorial experience and bypassed Senate confirmation. Bradley Schlozman moved aggressively where Graves had not, announcing felony indictments of four workers for a liberal activist group on voter registration fraud charges less than a week before the 2006 election.

Republicans, who had been pushing for restrictive new voting laws, applauded. But critics said Schlozman violated a department policy to wait until after an election to bring voter fraud indictments if the case could affect the outcome, either by becoming a campaign issue or by scaring legitimate voters into staying home.

And just to bring the point home and show that the link between these five particularly "hot spots" targeted by Rove had more to do with politics than crime...

According to Lorraine Minnite, a political scientist at Barnard College who co-wrote a recent study of federal prosecution of election fraud, the states in which U.S. attorneys were dismissed, or put on a tentative firing list, include five of nearly a dozen states that Rove and other Republicans last year identified as election battlegrounds.

Methinks this is starting to look like an "Open and Shut Case" of fraud alright, but not by any voters.


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