Category Archives: voter intimidation

Fired New Mexico US Attorney was attacked by “voter fraud” agitator

News from McClatchy News Service on the New Mexico US Attorney firing:

A New Mexico lawyer who pressed to oust U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was an officer of a nonprofit group that aided Republican candidates in 2006 by pushing for tougher voter identification laws. Iglesias, who was one of nine U.S. attorneys the administration fired last year, said that Albuquerque lawyer Patrick Rogers pressured him several times to bring voter fraud prosecutions where little evidence existed. Iglesias believes that he was fired in part because he failed to pursue such cases.

He described Rogers, who declined to discuss the exchanges, as “obsessed … convinced there was massive voter fraud going on in this state, and I needed to do something to stop it.”

Iglesias said he only recently learned of Rogers’ involvement as secretary of the non-profit American Center for Voting Rights Legislative Fund – an activist group that defended tighter voter identification requirements in court against charges that they were designed to hamper voting by poor minorities.

Rogers, a former general counsel to the New Mexico Republican Party and a candidate to replace Iglesias, is among a number of well-connected GOP partisans whose work with the legislative fund and a sister group played a significant role in the party’s effort to retain control of Congress in the 2006 election.

“Voter fraud” was investigated in NM and none was found, just as it has been discredited in the rest of the country. But this issue is a common thread in the US Attorney controversy, and one which links it directly to Karl Rove, who is obsessed with the subject. Claims of voter fraud are simply a way of suppressing the vote, intimidating voters and those who register voters. This highly undemocratic tactic is only one of the many “dirty tricks” developed by Karl Rove.

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US Atty NJ Chris Christie: Bush pioneer got on and off ‘the list’

This may be a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing. In this case, the GOP money-grabbing hand didn’t know what the MoniKyle listmaking hand was doing…Chris Christie, NJ USA, was a Bush Pioneer, who got put on the list after the 2006 elections, apparently for ignoring a “voter fraud” case handed to him by local Republicans, with a great deal of fanfare.
From the Atlantic Highlands Herald.

Republican Assembly candidates Jennifer Beck and Declan O’Scanlon called today for United States Attorney Chris Christie to look into voter fraud in Monmouth County …an investigation by the Republican State Committee turned up rampant voter fraud, including voters who voted in two states, voters who voted in two separate counties in New Jersey, and votes being cast by people listed as deceased.
It’s obvious that we need the United States Attorney’s office to get involved because once again, the Attorney General just doesn’t seem to be up to the task”, said Beck. …It’s the middle of September already. If he doesn’t want to do it, the let Chris Christie handle it.”

… “Obviously, we need better oversight of these local election boards, and better cooperation so we can constantly crosscheck the voter rolls.

How did Christie get off the list?
By a lot of partisan prosecutions and hollering,

in 15 months, that’s one conviction, two subpoenas to [GOP] party organizations during an investigation of the Democratic leadership, and a letter clearing a Republican Mayor.

During the same time period, there have been 63 investigations, subpoenas, indictments or convictions of Democrats.
[view in Google Docs] That sounds bad, but there are all of 12 convictions with well over half of those involving John Lynch and Charles Kushner.

Of course this is necessarily unscientific, in part because the US Attorney’s office has not returned repeated calls from a Blue Jersey representative seeking the list of convictions Christie regularly speaks about, or for the list of public places he’s spoken at. We cannot know – nor should we know – about all of the US Attorney’s investigations, but we do know the ones that made the papers.

And 94 percent of those are of or related to Democrats in the past 15 months.

So the US Attorney’s actions in the newspapers are 94 percent against one party, and then goes on a speaking tour urging voters to get engaged and kick the corrupt politicians out of office. People hearing him speak – at swearings-in, on 101.5 with The Jersey Guys, at colleges, and elsewhere – can’t help but think he means the party he is investigating 94 percent of the time.

Perhaps 94 percent of the time is reasonable for the US Attorney, but the speaking tour is not, and improperly influences the electorate toward the Republican Party. Note that Christe has raised and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Republicans, and is the front-runner to serve as its 2009 standard bearer for New Jersey Governor.

Seems like a pretty good Bushie, yes? Am I wrong? So it would appear that Christie’s sojourn on the list was not atypical; like USAs in other states, he got put on for ignoring local calls for election fraud prosecutions; in Christie’s case, he seems to have gotten off the list not by finally doing something about “voter fraud,” but by rabidly partisan behavior.

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Filed under George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Karl Rove:Bush's brain or Bush's as'hole?, voter intimidation

US Atty Silsby (Maine) on “the list” after 2004 elections, off by 2006.

Unknown persons placed a number of US attorneys on MoniKyle’s list to be fired, and later removed most of these from the list after the 2006 elections. What changed?

I have been poking around trying to discover whether some USA’s who were put on the list after 2004, and then removed in 2006, seemed to fit a pattern of doing nothing with potential voter fraud cases in 2004, but then getting headlines on the same issue before the 2006 elections. USA Paula Silsby of Maine seems to fit the pattern.

To keep the job, apparently, required overt actions that demonstrated a willingness to politicize the office. Much has been written about political bias in possible public corruption cases in Wisconsin, California, New Mexico, etc. The White House, it seems, wanted pre-election headlines that would scream that Democrats were crooks.

So-called “voter fraud” prosecutions by US attorneys may also have been an important determinant of who was placed on the list. These have gotten less attention than public corruption cases, but do have an important role in the GOP strategy of how to win elections, through voter suppression and intimidation.

There were actually two voter controversies in Maine in 2004, but so far I haven’t found evidence that the US attorney roused herself to become significantly involved in either one. The first was an issue of whether college students would be allowed to vote if their residences were not in Maine.

link
The way it was explained to me, the Maine GOP will try and assert that there are laws in certain states- like Minnesota- which prohibit those who make their primary residence in state to register to vote out of state. At the moment, the Maine GOP is trying to determine how to argue that Maine state law, which allows out of state registrants, does not supersede voting laws in other states.

In addition, Maine had not come into compliance with new national guidelines for compiling statewide voter lists. More on this below. I could not find any evidence that Maine USA Paula Silsby made any noise on either one of these potential cases.

It was after this election that Silsby was put on Kyle Sampson’s list to be fired. I don’t know whether she knew she was in trouble with Rove or not. But when the next election came around, however, the USA had found a voter controversy to get involved in, and she made it sound like voter fraud and made sure it got in the papers.
McClatchy:

Since 2005, department civil rights lawyers have sued election officials in seven states – Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, New Jersey and New York – and sent threatening letters to others, in some cases demanding copies of voter registration data.
….

Joseph Rich, a former chief of the Justice Department’s Voting Rights Section, said that Hans von Spakovsky, a former division counsel, directed him in early 2005 to start what Rich called “an initiative” to enforce the provision requiring states to maintain accurate registration lists.

Department spokeswoman Magnuson said “there was no initiative” and that the agency was merely enforcing the law.

Rich said the department changed priorities under the motor voter law “from expanding registration opportunities – the primary purpose of the statute – to unnecessarily forcing jurisdictions to remove voters from their voter rolls.”
“Aggressive purging of the voter rolls tends to have a disproportionate impact on voters who move frequently, live in cities and have names that are more likely to be incorrectly entered into databases,” said Rich, who’s now an attorney with the liberal-leaning Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. Primarily, he said, this means poor, minority voters.
In late 2005, the department sued Missouri’s Democratic secretary of state, Robin Carnahan, charging that her state had failed to eliminate ineligible voters from registration rolls. A federal judge threw out the suit …

The remaining lawsuits were settled with the states pledging to abide by the law.

The suits accused Alabama Secretary of State Nancy Worley and Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, both Democrats, of failing to meet the deadline for setting up statewide databases of registered voters, which they blamed on technical complications.

In Worley’s case, the department took the extraordinary step of persuading a federal judge nominated by President Bush to relieve her of her authority to oversee the 2006 election and to give Republican Gov. Bob Riley that authority as a “special master” of the court.

Worley called the suit “incredibly political,” noting that it was filed shortly before she was due to face Democratic primary voters in a re-election bid and blaming it for her defeat.

Dunlap said the company that was hired to create the database in Maine ran into technical problems and couldn’t complete the job. Nevada, he said, used the same vendor and also experienced problems, but the Justice Department didn’t sue its Republican secretary of state, Dean Heller, who was running for Congress at the time.

Maine fired the company that was to provide the state voter database, and was sued by the DoJ. They finally reached an agreement, and USA used that opportunity to trumpet the “voter fraud” meme:

The agreement sets forth the state’s plan for ensuring that each polling place has a voting system that is fully accessible to individuals with disabilities and can generate a permanent paper record that can be manually audited. The agreement also sets forth the state’s plan for creating a statewide computerized voter registration database that will help to identify and remove ineligible voters from the state’s voter rolls. A lawsuit, filed contemporaneously with the agreement, followed a Justice Department investigation that found that Maine had not yet fully complied with HAVA’s requirements that each polling place have a voting system accessible to disabled voters, and that the state create a statewide computerized voter registration database. The Justice Department’s investigation also found that Maine’s voter rolls contained a significant number of ineligible voters.

“Maine has a proud tradition of voter participation,” said Paula Silsby, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine. “These measures will provide immediate and lasting reform and will help ensure the integrity of Maine’s elections.”

The agreement, which must be approved by the federal district court in Maine, requires the state to provide each polling place with a voting system that is fully accessible to individuals with disabilities. The agreement also requires the state to develop a centralized statewide database and to begin conducting a program of list maintenance. Maine’s Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap added, “Maine and the Justice Department share a common goal of full and successful implementation of the Help America Vote Act. We’re working to modernize our election process and make it even stronger, and are pleased that the DOJ has agreed to our plan for doing so.”

Needless to say, after this performance, US attorney Silsby’s name was removed from the list of those USAs to be fired. Silsby’s case seems similar to those of Florida USA Gregory Miller, and Western Pennsylvania USA Mary Beth Buchanan. It will be impossible to know, without further evidence, if these voter fraud cases were the determining factor in who was put on the list to be fired or alternatively, judged a loyal Bushie. But there does seem to be a certain pattern. The GOP is a minority party of the rich and whatever ignorant southerners and “faithbased” voters it can successfully propagandize with Fox News Network. As such, it depends on various strategies for suppressing the vote of the rest of the country. The net result will be that more and more Americans will be barred from their basic right to vote, simply because they have moved, or because they have a parking ticket.

This diary may just be moving a few grains of sand, but hopefully other, more locally-based “ants” will continue the work.

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UPDATED:Mary Beth Buchanan: how did she get on (and off) the US attorney “LIST”?

Time to find more US attorney dots and try to connect them.

Mary Ann Buchanan was and is, by almost all accounts, a loyal Bushie US attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. She investigated and prosecuted the hell out of Democrats in the Pittsburgh area, while turning a blind eye to alleged sins committed by Republicans. She received special assignments and had a leadership position amongst the US attorneys. Yet, as with some other apparently loyal and capable USAs, Mary Beth Buchanan’s name was, at one point in time, placed on the list of USAs to be considered for firing. WTF? over?

Since voting issues seem to have been prominent factors in the firings of some USAs, I did some googling of things like Pittsburgh, voter fraud, 2004, things like that, which led me to this interesting letter to the editor of a Pittsburgh paper, alleging voter fraud in Allegheny County:

link

Thursday, October 21, 2004

In the Oct. 15 article titled “[Gov. Ed] Rendel will send monitors to elections offices,” it was not surprising to find a quote by the Allegheny County Chair of the Democratic Party, Tom Flaherty stating, “I could see if we had a history of voter fraud, maybe, but Allegheny County has always run impeccable elections, no matter which party is administering them.” Sure, Tom, maybe you forgot that Allegheny County spent $15,000 in 2002 to have an independent investigation into the allegations of rampant voter fraud in Kennedy Township. Or maybe you should spend some time in the Allegheny County Department of Elections after an election to see how many challenges to absentee ballots are mounted.

Voter fraud is alive and well in Allegheny County and one of the reasons is due to the shoddy leadership within the Department of Elections for not monitoring and cleansing the voter rolls. As of this writing, there is still an active investigation into improprieties in Kennedy by the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Pennsylvania State Attorney General’s Office.

As Stalin said, “Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.”

[signed]

Kevin Parent, [resident of] Kennedy [PA]

Wow; what a juicy morsel for Rovian fraud-yellers….A bit more poking around (actually a lot more) informed me that Mr. Parent is the husband of a woman who lost in a close local Republican primary election in 2001 in a heavily Democratic area. Apparently most of the voters were actually Democrats, who switched affiliations to try to mount a challenge to the local Democratic Party “machine.” There was a local investigation, and there was some pretty good evidence that fraudulent absentee ballots were involved, probably a couple dozen, and that there was one guy who seemed to have his handwriting on most of the bad ballots. There was some testimony that suggested that irregularities were also present in the 1999 primary, but there was insufficient evidence to make a solid case.

Link to report of local investigation into irregularities in voting in Kennedy in 2001.

Mr. Parent is an interested party to the Kennedy vote fraud issue, and a vocal one. Though I don’t know that he’s a Republican, he seems to have some knowledge of what the US Attorney has under active investigation; I wouldn’t be surprised if he had made a complaint to that office, and to Republican officials.

But apparently no indictment or newspaper headlines came as a result of whatever investigation might have been undertaken. Perhaps the USA, who was Mary Ann Buchanan, figured that the Republican/Democrat party switching would confuse the issue, or realized that this was just too small a case to bother with, or felt like the state authorities could adequately handle a couple of local grafters.

But I have no doubt that the Kennedy “non-prosecution” reached the desk of somebody in Washington, [UPDATE ONE:]because it was pretty big news in Pittsburgh:One blogger noted:

One thing to consider is that Mary Beth did not consider that prosecuting Mel and John Weinstein for voter fraud was worthwhile. From my perspective it was a slam dunk case, and yet there were no charges filed. They are Democrats, and one is the county treasurer.

Even the TeeVee news had it:

It’s not the first time we’ve reported on irregularities in Kennedy Township elections. But this time it could decide which candidate gets to run in November.

County election officials say two mysterious absentee ballots have turned up in last week’s Republican primary in Kennedy. Why are just two votes important? Because the primary was decided by one vote.

Republicans Tony Perri and Bob Muha squared off in last week’s Republican primary for the right to run in November against incumbent Kennedy treasurer Mel Weinstein, a Democrat.

Weinstein is also the father of County Treasurer John Weinstein. Perri won the GOP primary by one vote. But now, an irregularity has surfaced. …

“It could be possible that our office made a mistake and mailed two Republican ballots to registered Democratic voters,” he said.

But the county GOP committee says there’s also another possibility.

Perhaps Republican absentee ballots were marked by someone else, not Republican voters, and added into the total group of absentee ballots in an attempt to change the outcome of the election,” said county GOP solicitor Robert Owsiany.

And the papers told sordid details of the investigation:

John Weinstein appears to have filled out five 1997 Kennedy absentee ballots, although Dresbold said she couldn’t reach a definitive conclusion without reviewing additional handwriting samples.

[end of update 1; see update 2 below]

And, unfortunately for Ms. Buchanan, as it turned out, the headlines about voting irregularities in the Pittsburgh area immediately before the 2004 elections featured alleged Republican, not Democratic, malfeasance:

link

students have said they signed such a petition but were then asked to fill out the signature and address portions of voter registration forms in order to verify their identities. Those forms were later filled out to register the students as Republicans. In the latest case, students say they never saw a registration form.

“My son never put a change of address in anywhere,” said Mara O’Neill, whose son, Sean, 22, was among the Pitt students who signed the petition. O’Neill said her son listed an address where he stays with friends during the school week and that he has never listed that address any other place. He receives his mail at home in O’Hara, and, until he was suddenly reassigned as a Republican voter in Shadyside, has always cast his ballots near his home.

A friend of O’Neill’s, Camilla Kydland, also signed the petition, but listed her home address in Fox Chapel. That’s where she received her notice that she is now enrolled in the Republican Party.

I can imagine that such people as, say, Karl Rove, would be plenty po’ed to find out that a real case of voter fraud did not achieve headlines in Pittsburgh in the fall of 2004, while GOP dirty tricks did.

Whoever put Mary Ann Buchanan’s name on the list of US attorneys to be fired was obviously NOT a member of the knowledgeable senior staff of the DoJ; Buchanan, like Gregory Miller in Florida, was always in favor with those who worked with her. It seems likely, therefore, that the list was being made by those whose most important affiliations, if not titles, were outside the DoJ itself (yes, I’m lookin at you, Kyle and Monica). It would seem that being placed on the list had really nothing to do with the overall performance of the USAs, but was rather the instant and perhaps poorly considered action of a powerful person, perhaps within the White House, who had no tolerance for a missed opportunity to trumpet “Democrat voter fraud” immediately before the election (yes, Karl, I’m lookin’ at you….). I’m betting that somewhere there is an email or a memo signed by the Rovester or his COS that says something like,

“if ANYBODY sees ANY evidence that ANY USA failed to prosecute AND PUBLICIZE ANYTHING that smacks of voter fraud, I want to know about it, YESTERDAY.

I can’t say if this little episode was the cause of “blacklisting” Mary Beth Buchanan. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it were pretty darn close. There must be locals who can shed more light on it.

How did MBB get OFF the list?
I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody just called bullshit, because MBB was such a model Rovian in every other way. UPDATE 2: But just prior to the 2006 elections, somehow she got the message that she hadn’t measured up in 2004, and she fired off a press release touting her public corruption activities, including, notably, the Weinstein voting fraud investigation:

Dirty cops and crooked politicians beware — federal, state and local authorities are teaming up to fight public corruption in Western Pennsylvania.U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said she will meet with other agencies in coming weeks to establish a special working group. Other members are likely to include the FBI; Pennsylvania State Police; the state Attorney General’s Office; and the offices of several local prosecutors, including Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.

The region has had numerous high-profile public corruption cases recently:
• Dr. Cyril Wecht, the former Allegheny County coroner, was indicted by a federal grand jury in January on 84 counts related to charges that he used his public office for private financial gain.

• The federal investigation into former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy ended in June without federal charges filed.

• Three high-ranking officials in the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office were convicted as part of the ongoing federal investigation into campaign-finance abuses and other misconduct.

“We’ve investigated more public-corruption cases in the past four years than we have in the past 10 years,” Buchanan said.

Federal investigators are busy investigating other cases of possible public corruption.

In addition to the ongoing investigation into the office of outgoing Sheriff Pete DeFazio, the list of federal public-corruption investigations incudes wrongdoing in the Plum Police Department; special treatment given to certain people by Washington County District Attorney John Pettit; and allegations of absentee-balloting fraud by Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein and his father, Democratic powerbroker Mel Weinstein, of Kennedy.

The majority of public-corruption cases are filed by federal prosecutors. From 1994 to 2004, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh won 60 convictions in public-corruption cases, according to U.S. Department of Justice figures. Statewide during that time, 515 public officials were convicted of corruption in federal court.

So, I can see Mary Beth Buchanan printing off a copy of that newspaper story and firing it off to Monikyle with a “so shove it up your ass” note, with a carpetbombing cc to the rest of freakin DoJ. I’m betting that got her off the list.

A short rant on voter “fraud”/suppression/intimidation:

Greg Palast estimates that 3 million votes/voters in this country were challenged or impeded in attempting to cast their votes, essentially all of them by Republican Party operatives. How many fraudulent ballots were cast? a few dozen, most by people who just didn’t know better, who just didn’t understand that their criminal or immigration status did not allow them this particular privilege. Voter fraud allegations are simply a form of voter suppression, and are an attack against democracy, by the party that trumpets the “purple fingers” in Iraq, but tries to silence the “brown fingers” and the “black fingers” in this country.

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Filed under George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Karl Rove:Bush's brain or Bush's as'hole?, US Attorneys, voter intimidation

Gonzales was trying to suppress the Office of the Deputy Attorney General

Link

The US attorney firings can be seen as part of a plan to turn the entire Department of Justice into an arm of the Republican Party, so it could perpetrate partisan prosecutions, the logical extension of Karl Rove’s “dirty tricks” strategy.  That meant that the people in the Department who made prosecutorial decisions had to be very partisan.

By the time of the 2004 elections, the Bush administration realized that it had made one very major mistake in its hirings, and that mistake was Deputy Attorney General James Comey, the man whose job it was to actually run the Justice Department.  Comey and Attorney General Ashcroft were both Republicans, but were above the kind of politicization of DoJ that was demanded by Rove et al.  As a result, there were at least two major fiascos, one being the refusal of the entire DoJ to go along with certain aspects of a new domestic surveillance program, and the other being the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald, who successfully prosecuted  Scooter Libby.

The resignation of Ashcroft and the departure of Comey must be seen in that light. The ultimate Bushie, Alberto Gonzales, was brought in to obliterate the independence of the ODAG:

“Mr. Sampson explained to me a vision for the operation of the Attorney General’s office and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General that would involve operating those respective staffs as essentially one staff,” Comey wrote in responses to questions for the record submitted by members of the House Judiciary Committee. The responses were sent to RAW STORY.

Comey went on to explain how Gonzales’s plan to merge his office with Comey’s would have eliminated a layer of oversight on the Attorney General’s decision-making.

One of the necessary steps in “merging”  (which was really removing the power of the DAG) was as the secret memo  that took the power of hiring and firing away from the Deputy (Paul McNulty, who had replaced Comey) and gave it to two young rabid GOP operatives, Monica Goodling and Kyle Sampson, who were on Gonzales’ staff.

Most of the machinations that led to the firing of the US attorneys were accomplished under this scheme of taking the DAG out of the loop. Of course, now Gonzales has adopted the strategy of trying to blame any misjudgments on McNulty, a tack which has been widely noticed in the press as well as by the Congress.

Looking back, things that I would have done differently? I think I would have had the deputy attorney general more involved, directly involved,” Gonzales said in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in April.

But in a May 15 press conference, Gonzales appeared to reverse himself and pin most of the responsibility for the firing of the US Attorneys on McNulty.

“The one person that I would care about would be the views of the deputy attorney general, because the deputy attorney general is the direct supervisor of the United States attorneys. And in this particular case, Mr. McNulty was a former colleague of all of these United States attorneys, and so he would probably know better than anyone else about the performance and the qualifications of these — of our United States attorney community,” Gonzales said.

He went on, “My understanding was was that Mr. Sampson’s recommendations reflected a consensus view of the senior leadership of the department, in particular the deputy attorney general.”

Gonzales may somehow be allowed to serve out his term, but that is a true “miscarriage of Justice.”

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Rove, Sampson, Schlozman….what is it with these tubby little guys?

When I saw Bradley Scholzman testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee I just got a little weirded out. Shave Scholzman’s facial hair and you couldn’t tell him apart from Rove and Sampson…were they all high school outcasts who swore revenge on the world?

He bag production, He got wal-rus gumboot

Dm
He got O-no sideboard, He one spinal cracker

A7
He got feet down below his knee

G7
Hold you in his armchair, you can feel his disease

Did they all come together with their Snow White, Monica Goodling, in a lovefest of dirty tricks, lawbreaking, smears, threats, “opposition research,” and unchecked power over the Department of Justice?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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US attorney scandal: Bradley Schlozman testimony

In case you missed the testimony yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, let me give you the essence of it.

The US attorney from Missouri who was fired came across as a dedicated, impartial, non-partisan officer of the court, honorable public servant, and native son.

The guy who replaced him, Bradley Schlozman, came across as a whining, lying, carpetbagging little GOP operative with no prosecutorial experience, who came in and indicted some poor voter registrars right before the election, in violation of DoJ guidelines.

It was disgusting. Laughable. Sickening.
In a way, I was reminded of the scene from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, in which the Highway Patrolman questions John Candy about the burned-out car Candy is driving:

Officer: You got no outside mirror.
Del Griffith (John Candy): It’s lost.
Officer: You have no functioning gauges.
Del Griffith: No, not a one. However, the radio still works.

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How the North Florida US Attorney got on (and off) “the list.”

[Preface: I realize I'm playing "find a few dots and connect them." But we have to start somewhere. See what you think. ]

According to McClatchy News Service, the US Attorney for Northern Florida in Tallahassee, Gregory Miller, was on the list of USAs to be fired:

Miller appeared on multiple target lists for possible firing from early 2005 through last November, according to a senior congressional aide familiar with Justice Department documents. Miller kept his job.

Miller denied that there were any performance issues:

In Florida, a U.S. attorney whose name appeared on a Justice Department firing list received commendations from the Justice Department and White House even as he was being targeted for removal.

U.S. Attorney Gregory Miller of Tallahassee said Friday that the awards and praise he’d received over the years showed that his job performance couldn’t have caused him to be targeted for dismissal. When controversy over the firings of U.S. attorneys erupted earlier this year, Justice Department officials initially said the dismissals were justified by the attorneys’ performances.

“During the entire time period, I didn’t hear anything negative from the Justice Department,” Miller said.

Instead, he got an award presented by the Justice Department’s No. 2 official and a December 2004 letter from then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card for “contributions you have made to this administration and this country.”

“The President and Mrs. Bush and the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney are grateful for the countless hours you have devoted to serving the American people,” Card wrote.

A year later, Justice Department officials put him on a list as someone they might fire. Miller said he didn’t know why he was targeted nor why he was spared.

One common factor in several of the US Attorney firings was a perceived reluctance on the part of the USAs to pursue trivial or hyperpartisan investigations or prosecutions. Some of these cases involved allegations of voter fraud. One important case occurred in Missouri, and involved the national voter registration group ACORN, the most visible target of Republican voter suppression tactics, and active in Florida as well as Missouri. Murray Waas reported that

In the case involving ACORN, [GOP activist "Thor"] Hearne had urged the Justice Department long before the election to investigate the activist organization and similar groups that registered Democrats. When Hearne came to believe that the U.S. attorney for western Missouri, Todd Graves, was not taking seriously allegations that ACORN workers were registering people who did not qualify to vote, he took his complaints to senior officials in Justice’s Civil Rights Division and to the White House, according to a former Justice official and a private attorney who worked with Hearne. The private attorney said in an interview that Hearne boasted to him about having discussions with administration officials who wanted Graves replaced.

At the insistence of the Bush administration, Graves resigned on March 10, 2006. Graves has said publicly that he believes his dismissal was the result of clashes he had with his superiors for not aggressively pursuing voting-fraud cases.

When Graves resigned from Justice, Bradley J. Schlozman, one of his superiors, replaced him. The two had disagreed on the voting-fraud cases when Schlozman was acting head of the Civil Rights Division’s voting-rights section.

Back to Florida: In October, 2004, shortly before Miller got put on the list, ACORN was the target of 1) state and Federal lawsuits brought by several individuals (more about them below) AND 2) a criminal investigation by state officials , but no mention of Federal/US Attorney criminal investigation or prosecution)….perhaps because the cases subsequently proved to be worse than flimsy:

link

TALLAHASSEE – Fourteen months after a campaign to increase Florida’s minimum wage drew allegations of voter fraud, a federal judge in South Florida has ruled at least some of those accusations against grass roots political group ACORN were so baseless they amount to defamation.

U.S. District Judge James King has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Mac Stuart, a former ACORN employee, saying Stuart never provided evidence to support his claim that he was fired because he uncovered voter fraud.

Stuart alleged that ACORN improperly handled registration forms when it conducted voter registration drives, including not submitting Republican registrations to election officials.

The judge upheld ACORN’s counterclaim that Stuart’s lack of evidence made his allegations libel and slander. The group has always claimed it fired Stuart for insubordination.

An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement also found no evidence of criminal activity at ACORN, department officials confirmed Wednesday.
….

The resolution comes more than a year after ACORN outmaneuvered Florida’s business community and Republican leadership to place a successful citizen petition on the ballot to raise Florida’s minimum wage in May from $5.15 to $6.15 an hour.

The state constitutional amendment, approved by 71 percent of voters, also sets a process to adjust the wage annually for inflation.

But a month before voters went to the polls, criticism of ACORN mounted. Stuart filed his lawsuit; the Department of Law Enforcement took the unusual step of publicizing the fact it was investigating ACORN; and another lawsuit filed in state court in Tallahassee, but later withdrawn, alleged the group committed fraud in collecting petitions for the ballot measure.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez dismissed with prejudice a third lawsuit, which also had ties to Stuart.

The 12 plaintiffs alleged ACORN had failed to file their voter registration applications, which made them ineligible to vote in 2004. Stuart had provided the plaintiffs’ attorneys with the applications.

Martinez dismissed the suit after 10 plaintiffs withdrew and the only remaining ones were a felon, not allowed to vote under Florida law, and a person who had moved to New Jersey, said ACORN attorney Brian Koch of Miami.

…ACORN, which stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, claims to have registered more than 1.1-million voters nationwide in 2004, 210,000 of them in Florida.

One could certainly speculate that the “criticism that mounted before the election” was provided by GOP operatives like Hearne. Furthermore, wherewithal to file and pursue three simultaneous lawsuits would have required some impetus and financial support from some bigger players than a disgruntled ACORN employee, particularly since the cases must have seemed on their face to have been flimsy. In fact, the whole idea was probably just to make the newspapers shortly before the election, and in that objective they succeeded.

Where was Gregory Miller in this bruhaha which involved the state and Federal courts and state law enforcement? That is the point, isn’t it…USA Miller seems to have taken a pass in getting involved in such a crappy case. And, as we have learned in Missouri and in other cases, that got noticed. And that is how he got put on the list, imho...somebody like Hearne made a few calls…yada yada….Miller denied getting pressure from DoJ on voter fraud cases, but clammed up when asked about other pressure:

He denied “Washington” Justice Department officials ever voiced criticism about his office over any issue, including toeing the Bush administration line over supposed voter fraud.

Pointedly, however, when “asked whether activists outside Washington had asked his office to look into any controversial voter fraud allegations” Miller declined to comment. He said “Justice Department policy prohibits prosecutors from commenting on closed or ongoing cases.”

First he says the Justice Department in Washington didn’t say anything, then when asked about anyone “outside” D.C. Miller suddenly remembers prosecutors aren’t supposed to talk about “closed or ongoing cases”?

The heavy implication of Miller’s non-denial is that someone in Florida was pushing the northern district’s federal prosecutor to feed Karl Rove’s voter fraud fetish. Maybe it was Rove himself. After all, he maintains a home right here in the Panhandle.

Well, let’s assume that it was the non-prosecution of the ACORN “voter fraud” issue that got Miller on the list. Can we find anything in that same vein that might have gotten him OFF the list in 2006? Well, funny you should ask:

January 17, 2006

Tallahassee – Gregory R. Miller, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced today that KOLAWOLE A. OLAOGUN a/k/a YOMI OLAGUN, 53, of Tallahassee, Florida was convicted by a jury of one count of falsely claiming United States citizenship for the purpose of registering to vote, one count of falsely representing himself to be a United States citizen on a voter change of address form, and two counts of illegally voting in a federal election. Evidence introduced at trial established that Olaogun falsely claimed to be a United States citizen when he registered to vote and later voted during federal elections, including the 2004 Presidential Election. As a lawful permanent resident, Olaogun did not have the legal right to vote.
Olaogun faces maximum sentences of five years’ imprisonment on the charge of falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen for the purpose of registering of vote, three years’ imprisonment on the charge of falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen on a voter change of address form, and one year imprisonment on each count of illegal voting. Sentencing is scheduled for April 16, 2007 at 1:30 p.m.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Investigations. The prosecutor was Assistant United States Attorney Winifred Acosta NeSmith.

Back to the McClatchy piece; it wasn’t the FBI that dug up this poor dope, it was ICE:

Miller’s office handled three voter-fraud cases, but he said his office was never pressured to pursue such cases. Federal agents had brought the cases forward after they discovered that immigrants had illegally registered to vote.

“We weren’t telling agents to dig up voter-fraud cases,” he said.

Ion Sancho, the supervisor of elections in Tallahassee, Fla., told McClatchy Newspapers on Thursday that Miller’s office had asked for a copy of a database of registered voters. But Sancho corrected himself Friday, saying an immigration official had requested the database last August, not a federal prosecutor.

The use of ICE investigators instead of FBI has also been discovered in New York.

Putting two and two together, it would seem that some USA’s (like Gregory Miller) may have been reluctant to use their FBI assets to pursue the odd confused Nigerian who thinks he can vote. In those situations, when the USA refuses to act, somebody (yes, we’re lookin at you, Karl) makes a call to ICE…Yada, yada….

Miller mentioned three cases of “voter fraud” in which he was involved; I couldn’t find any mention of the other two, so I don’t know whether they ever reached trial. That one conviction (extra points for a black man?) was probably not quite enough to get Miller off the hook; according to McClatchy, he wasn’t taken off the list until November; hmmm…

What might Miller have done in “voter fraud” in November? Hmmm, funny you should ask: Miller decided to make big deal out of evoking the image of the FBI just before election day, and to otherwise emphasize that he is now, in 2006 if not in 2004, REALLY SERIOUS about “voter fraud.”

lookee here:

November 1, 2006

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ACTIVATES

ELECTION DAY PROGRAM

United States Attorney Gregory R. Miller announced today that, in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 7, 2006 general election, he is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters….

In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses on November 7, 2006, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, USA Miller stated that three supervisory federal prosecutors will be on duty in this District while the polls are open. Each will field complaints from counties, as designated below, and can be reached by the public at the telephone numbers listed.

Complaints should be referred to Managing Assistant U.S. Attorney Dixie Morrow at 850-554-5995 for the counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, and Jackson.

Complaints should be referred to Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Rhew at 850-528-8594 for the counties of Franklin, Leon, Gadsden, Liberty, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla.

Complaints should be referred to Managing Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry Sanford at 352-494-7431 for the counties of Alachua, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, and Levy.

The FBI will also have Special Agents available in the Jacksonville Field Office to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses. The FBI can be reached by the public at 904-721-1211.

Additionally, complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can be made directly to the Election Day Hotline of the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767.

United States Attorney Miller said, “Election fraud and voting rights abuses dilute the worth of votes honestly cast. They also corrupt the essence of our representative form of government. As crimes against both the individual and the government, they will be dealt with promptly and aggressively. Anyone who has information suggesting electoral corruption or voting rights abuses should make that information available immediately to my Office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”

Sounds serious, doesn’t he? I bet he faxed this thing to Washington with a little note appended that read something like:

Nov. 1:

Karl,

hope this meets with your approval; I beefed up the scare parts per your suggestions; are we square? can you get that little Sampson twerp off my case now?

bushie wishes,

Greg

And presto, Miller disappears from the list, just in time to avoid the December massacre.

There is probably a lot more out there; information on the Nigerian case, sentencing, etc; what happened to the other two cases…who put pressure on Miller…was Hearne involved? Obviously Miller was doing a lot of other cases besides “voter fraud,” that could have gotten him in hot water. But this is a start.

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Waas spotlights role of GOP operative Hearne in US Attorney scandal

Murray Waas at National Journal unravels some of the involvement of GOP operative and Karl Rove protege Mark Hearne in the Arkansas and Missouri chapters of the US Attorney scandal. Hearne is probably involved in all of the those situations where USA’s were being pressed to bring “voter fraud” charges. Hearne, who was legal counsel for Bush Cheney in 2004, is known as the head of the bogus and now defunct American Center for Voting Rights.

Waas’ story clearly shows the bending of the Justice Department to partisan purposes. And it shows the importance of getting Karl Rove’s testimony; he is the dot that connects the White House to political intervention in the investigation and/or prosecution of individual cases.

Mark (Thor) Hearne, a Republican Party operative who had served as national election counsel for the 2004 Bush-Cheney presidential campaign and played a behind-the-scenes role in both cases. Hearne’s role provides a window into how a Republican activist was pushing Bush administration officials — and perhaps in some cases working in concert with them — to use the Justice Department for partisan purposes.

[ex-USA for Arkansas] Cummins said in an interview that a former senior Justice Department official from the Bush administration, William Mateja, repeatedly contacted him during the investigation and asked whether Blunt was implicated in the corruption probe. Cummins said he was unaware at the time that Mateja was making his calls at the behest of Hearne, whose law firm had retained Mateja on Blunt’s behalf.

In the case involving ACORN, Hearne had urged the Justice Department long before the election to investigate the activist organization and similar groups that registered Democrats. When Hearne came to believe that the U.S. attorney for western Missouri, Todd Graves, was not taking seriously allegations that ACORN workers were registering people who did not qualify to vote, he took his complaints to senior officials in Justice’s Civil Rights Division and to the White House, according to a former Justice official and a private attorney who worked with Hearne. The private attorney said in an interview that Hearne boasted to him about having discussions with administration officials who wanted Graves replaced.

The White House declined to comment on any of its discussions with Hearne.

At the insistence of the Bush administration, Graves resigned on March 10, 2006. Graves has said publicly that he believes his dismissal was the result of clashes he had with his superiors for not aggressively pursuing voting-fraud cases.

When Graves resigned from Justice, Bradley J. Schlozman, one of his superiors, replaced him. The two had disagreed on the voting-fraud cases when Schlozman was acting head of the Civil Rights Division’s voting-rights section.

Schlozman had pressed Graves to bring a civil suit against Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, for allegedly failing to crack down on voting fraud. Graves expressed serious reservations about the case, saying it lacked merit. Subsequently the voting-rights section filed the suit. Later, U.S. District Court Judge Nanette K. Laughrey dismissed it, concluding: “It is … 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. Nor has the United States shown that any voter fraud has occurred.”

Hearne found his niche in the GOP’s operation in Florida in 2000:

Among his mementos are personal letters from President Bush and Karl Rove thanking him for his work in the 2004 campaign and a picture of Hearne holding up and examining a ballot with a “dimpled chad” in Broward County as a representative of the Bush campaign during the contested 2000 Florida recount.

In February 2005, with encouragement from Rove and the White House, Hearne founded the American Center for Voting Rights, which represented itself as a nonpartisan watchdog group looking for voting fraud. Critics, including the liberal group People for the American Way and state chapters of the League of Women Voters, say that the group was a Republican front and pursued only allegations of voting fraud by Democrats. The group now appears to be defunct.

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“Voter fraud” website/organization disappears, but legacy remains

Link

American Center for Voting Rights… has literally just disappeared as an organization, and for which it seems no replacement group will rise up. With no notice and little comment, ACVR—the only prominent nongovernmental organization claiming that voter fraud is a major problem, a problem warranting strict rules such as voter-ID laws—simply stopped appearing at government panels and conferences. Its Web domain name has suddenly expired, its reports are all gone (except where they have been preserved by its opponents), and its general counsel, Mark “Thor” Hearne, has cleansed his résumé of affiliation with the group. Hearne won’t speak to the press about ACVR’s demise. No other group has taken up the “voter fraud” mantra.

The death of ACVR says a lot about the Republican strategy of raising voter fraud as a crisis in American elections. Presidential adviser Karl Rove and his allies, who have been ghostbusting illusory dead and fictional voters since the contested 2000 election, apparently mounted a two-pronged attack. One part of that attack, at the heart of the current Justice Department scandals, involved getting the DoJ and various U.S. attorneys in battleground states to vigorously prosecute cases of voter fraud. That prong has failed. After exhaustive effort, the Department of Justice discovered virtually no polling-place voter fraud, and its efforts to fire the U.S. attorneys in battleground states who did not push the voter-fraud line enough has backfired. Even if Attorney General Gonzales declines to resign his position, his reputation has been irreparably damaged.

Where the Bush administration may have failed to nail illegal voters, the effort to suppress minority voting has borne more fruit, as more states pass these laws, and courts begin to uphold them in the name of beating back waves of largely imaginary voter fraud.

…this week, Republican members of the Texas state Senate are trying to push through a voter-ID law over a threatened Democratic filibuster. Their political machinations have already required a Democratic state senator recovering from a liver transplant to show up to vote—and they almost passed the bill when another Democratic senator came down with the stomach flu.

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