[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.
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:
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.”
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:
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?
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.