Patterico's Pontifications

3/31/2007

Former DoJ Official: Pursuing Voter Fraud Cases Indicates Intent to Depress Minority Turnout

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:30 pm

Lefties have been citing an L.A. Times op-ed by a former Justice Department official, who claims that Bush has politicized the Justice Department. It’s an eye-opening allegation — but if you actually read the piece, you quickly conclude that the author’s viewpoint is so skewed as to render his entire piece suspect. For example, he actually sees voter fraud cases as indicative of an intent to depress minority turnout:

[The Justice Department under Bush] has notably shirked its legal responsibility to protect voting rights. From 2001 to 2006, no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of African American or Native American voters. U.S. attorneys were told instead to give priority to voter fraud cases, which, when coupled with the strong support for voter ID laws, indicated an intent to depress voter turnout in minority and poor communities.

Or maybe it indicated an intent to fight voter fraud, sir.

I’m sorry, but I can’t take seriously anything the guy says after that. I actually find it disturbing that somebody with such a warped perspective held such a high-ranking position in the Justice Department (his op-ed bio says that he was “chief of the voting section in the Justice Department’s civil right[s] division from 1999 to 2005.”)

Reading on, I find more nonsense:

[Interim U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Bradley] Schlozman was acting assistant attorney general in charge of the division when the Justice Department OKd a Georgia law requiring voters to show photo IDs at the polls. These decisions went against the recommendations of career staff, who asserted that such rulings discriminated against minority voters.

What? To me, such laws are designed to ensure that voter fraud is not taking place. But Mr. Rich doesn’t seem to care much about voter fraud, except to assert that investigating it shows a motivation to depress minority turnout.

Schlozman continued to influence elections as an interim U.S. attorney. Missouri had one of the closest Senate races in the country last November, and a week before the election, Schlozman brought four voter fraud indictments against members of an organization representing poor and minority people. This blatantly contradicted the department’s long-standing policy to wait until after an election to bring such indictments because a federal criminal investigation might affect the outcome of the vote. The timing of the Missouri indictments could not have made the administration’s aims more transparent.

Wait a second. How does it affect an election to indict somebody for voter fraud — as long as the indictment is legally proper? Doesn’t it affect an election to allow somebody who is committing voter fraud to continue to do so before an election?

But did Schlozman have the goods? As to at least one of those individuals, Dale D. Franklin, he apparently did. Earlier this year, Franklin pleaded guilty to voter fraud:

Dale D. Franklin, 44, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple this morning to the charge contained in a Nov. 1, 2006, federal indictment.

. . . .

Franklin worked as a voter registration recruiter for ACORN in late September and early October 2006, obtaining voter registrations prior to the Nov. 7, 2006, election. Franklin admitted that he knowingly caused to be furnished to the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners a voter registration application on which Franklin forged the signature of the applicant and on which the address and telephone number listed were false.

Rich has since joined the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, whose mission statement is “to represent the interest of African Americans in particular, other racial and ethnic minorities, and other victims of discrimination, where doing so can help to secure justice for all racial and ethnic minorities.” Attorneys for this organization can pursue discrimination cases without giving a second thought to whether doing so will drain resources from voter fraud cases. I think Mr. Rich will be much happier there.

I’d read this op-ed with a skeptical eye. If the quoted passages make sense to you, then the rest of the op-ed probably will too. If, like me, they leave you with a furrowed brow and a headache, then (like me) you will be inclined to discount the rest of it as the ravings of an off-kilter individual.

18 Responses to “Former DoJ Official: Pursuing Voter Fraud Cases Indicates Intent to Depress Minority Turnout”

  1. “voter fraud cases, which, when coupled with the strong support for voter ID laws, indicated an intent to depress voter turnout in minority and poor communities.”

    Is this guy really suggesting that some races disproportionately engage in voter fraud? Is racism prevalent in the DOJ?

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)

  2. OK, let’s get the peripheral issue out of the way first. The practice of paying people by the name to register voters results (capitalism, you know) in a flurry of bogus voter registrations. Either of real people from the phone book, or even cartoon names. This is illegal, and should be, but voter ID is not part of the issue here, because Mickey Mouse will not be showing up at the polling place. There is almost no evidence of voter fraud, especially on the huge scale posited by the Republicans. (*)

    On the other hand, there’s the hassle of Voter ID. Now, as it happens, for a liberal my views on ID are rather heterodox. I’m not against it in principle. But when I found out the parameters of Voter ID Georgia-style, I decided that in this instance, it was just another way to keep Negroes from voting, something with which Georgia has previous experience. Do you realize there was not a single place to get this ID in metropolitan Atlanta? Here’s what the measure’s sponsor had to say.

    The chief sponsor of Georgia’s voter identification law told the Justice Department that if black people in her district “are not paid to vote, they don’t go to the polls,” and that if fewer blacks vote as a result of the new law, it is only because it would end such voting fraud.

    I don’t find it very surprising that the professional staff of the Voting Rights division said thumbs-down to this law, and I’m not surprised that the political appointees, eager to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voters, reversed them. Do you really want to make common cause with this sort of bigotry?

    (*) My favorite example of creating fake voter fraud—you know, no one has identified a single name of a fraudulent voter in Georgia who would be stopped by Voter ID—comes from South Dakota. A TV “Journalist” who lives with an officer of the State GOP interviewed a Sioux woman with an unusual name, who told the journo that no, she hadn’t requested an absentee ballot. Then the journo showed the “fraudulent” ballot. Off camera, after this interview, she did mention that the ballot was for another woman with the exact same name (guess what’s unusual to us isn’t unusual to the Sioux). The application had been sent to the wrong county. What a total crock.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (2484d4)

  3. “Almost” no evidence? Well then, let’s forget about fraud.

    Voter fraud is not a racist “total crock.” Acorn and voter fraud. When a suitably partisan AG is appointed again, Mr. Rich I’m sire can be rehired to once again ignore such cases and make up for all the civil rights abuses of the past 100 years. That’s the rationale, isn’t it?

    Patricia (824fa1)

  4. If you had looked at my links: yes, Acorn’s policy of paying for registrations by name has been abused. Of course, no one named Mickey Mouse was actually going to vote. As far as I know, not one single person registered by Acorn has been charged with illegal voting; the Acorn stuff is just a smokescreen for the disenfranchisement campaign.

    But keep on with those talking points. Don’t even think of looking to see if Opinion Journal is snowing you (again).

    Andrew J. Lazarus (00a7b2)

  5. Mr. Lazarus seems to think that the fake voter registrations turned in by ACORN is just the innocent result of individuals being paid by the registration. What he seems to overlook is that once the county registrar accepts these fraudulent registrations and they are added to the voter roles, ACORN now controls that bloc of votes. All they have to do is order absentee ballots in those names (yes, even Mickey Mouse) then send in the completed ballots. If you look at the history of ACORN and of the various individuals associated with this organization, it isn’t inconceivable that these fraudulent registrations will not be used for voting.
    In counties nation wide, the voter rolls need to be cleaned up. There are cities where there are more registered voters than there are residents as per the census. Bad voter rolls (dead folks, registrations at non-existent addresses, etc.) are the most prevalent form of disinfranchisement, along with not checking ID’s, as these diminish ALL voters.

    Mr Chips (f83155)

  6. About one-third of the nearly four dozen U.S. attorney’s jobs that have changed hands since President Bush began his second term have been filled by the White House and the Justice Department with trusted administration insiders.

    The people chosen as chief federal prosecutors on a temporary or permanent basis since early 2005 include 10 senior aides to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, according to an analysis of government records. Several came from the White House or other government agencies. Some lacked experience as prosecutors or had no connection to the districts in which they were sent to work, the records and biographical information show.
    The new U.S. attorneys filled vacancies created through natural turnover in addition to the firings of eight prosecutors last year that have prompted a political uproar and congressional investigations.

    No other administration in contemporary times has had such a clear pattern of filling chief prosecutors’ jobs with its own staff members, said experts on U.S. attorney’s offices. Those experts said the emphasis in appointments traditionally has been on local roots and deference to home-state senators, whose support has been crucial to win confirmation of the nominees.

    The pattern from Bush’s second term suggests that the dismissals were half of a two-pronged approach: While getting rid of prosecutors who did not adhere closely to administration priorities, such as rigorous pursuit of immigration violations and GOP allegations of voter fraud, White House and Justice officials have seeded federal prosecutors’ offices with people on whom they can depend to carry out the administration’s agenda.

    AF (c319c8)

  7. Salon: How U.S. attorneys were used to spread voter-fraud fears:

    A belief in rampant voter fraud in Democratic strongholds — big cities, minority neighborhoods — is widespread among Republicans, and claims of vote buying and the like have long been a mainstay of GOP rhetoric. The party has used these claims of voter fraud to help build public support for what it considers electoral reforms, like requiring voters to show photo ID — reforms that also tend to suppress Democratic turnout on Election Day.

    During the Bush administration, a rhetorical tool became public policy. The Republicans could not get a photo ID law through the Senate, but they were able to enlist the 93 United States attorneys in their crusade against voter fraud. In 2002, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft announced an initiative that required “all components of the [Justice] Department” to “place a high priority on the investigation and prosecution of election fraud.”

    Five years later, Ashcroft’s initiative hasn’t produced all that much in the way of convictions, at least relative to the overall Department of Justice caseload. Prosecutions for electoral fraud remain a minuscule part of the federal criminal docket. In 2002 alone, there were 80,424 criminal cases concluded nationwide in the 94 U.S. District Courts. By comparison, according to a DOJ document, between the fall of 2002 and the fall of 2005, there were only 95 defendants charged with federal election-fraud-related crimes in the whole country.

    …Missouri’s photo ID law was struck down by the state Supreme Court in October 2006, just before the midterm elections. But by then, the Bush administration had used a loophole in the Patriot Act to appoint Bradley Schlozman, who had supervised the voting section of the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ at headquarters in Washington, as Graves’ successor in the Western District. The loophole was closed by a vote of the Senate on Tuesday, but in March of 2006 Alberto Gonzales was able to make Schlozman a U.S. attorney without seeking confirmation from the Senate.

    The appointment, the first under the controversial Patriot Act provision, raised eyebrows at DOJ, one former senior Justice Department official told Salon. “Schlozman was one of Gonzales’ guys,” the former senior official said, “but several of us were scratching our heads when we heard about it because he was not a very well-regarded trial attorney.”

    Schlozman, who graduated from law school in 1996, was a clerk for three years and an appellate attorney in Washington for two years before joining the Department of Justice. He certainly had less experience (PDF) as a criminal prosecutor than many of his fellow U.S. attorneys. But as the head of the voting section of the DOJ’s civil right division, he knew a lot about election fraud. In 2005, he had penned an editorial for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution supporting a bill passed by the Republican-dominated Georgia state Legislature requiring voters to show photo ID. Schlozman argued that the bill would not be an impediment to minority voters.

    Less than a week before the 2006 midterm election, in which Missouri was the scene of one of the year’s tightest Senate contests, Schlozman announced the indictment of four people for voter fraud. The four had allegedly submitted false voter registrations while working for the group ACORN in the inner city of Kansas City. An organization that conducts registration drives in poor and minority urban neighborhoods, i.e., areas of Democratic strength, ACORN has often been a target of fraud accusations by the right. “This national investigation is very much ongoing,” said Schlozman in a statement issued Nov. 1. The indictments were trumpeted by myriad conservative blogs and such national outlets as Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times.

    More than four months after he announced them — and after incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Talent lost a close election to Democrat Claire McCaskill — Schlozman’s four indictments have produced one guilty plea. An indictment against a fifth person was dropped. In the wake of the U.S. attorneys scandal, meanwhile, Schlozman is suddenly on his way out. On Jan. 16, two days before he gave his annual testimony to Congress, during which Democrats questioned him about the mass firing of U.S. attorneys, Attorney General Gonzales announced that John Wood would be taking Schlozman’s place in Kansas City. “Schlozman had [only] been there for 10 months,” the former senior Justice Department official told Salon. Until the firings became an issue, “They weren’t going to replace him.”

    Political considerations aside, are the types of prosecutions pursued by Schlozman and his peers valid? Is real fraud actually common? As Bud Cummins, one of the eight U.S. attorneys just fired by the Bush administration, tells Salon, cases involving registration drives by groups like ACORN do crop up. But Cummins notes that when there is fraud connected to groups like ACORN, it is often perpetrated upon them, not by them. The groups sometimes pay workers by the number of registrations they turn in, which can lead some of the workers to falsify registrations to earn more money. Others, paid by the hour, falsify registrations so they can appear to have logged extra time.
    read the whole thing

    AF (c319c8)

  8. The march of the evil fear spreading US attorneys

    Going to rallies – I can see the fear sweep through the masses

    Ask anyone if they even know who their local US Attorney is

    EricPWJohnson (695c44)

  9. More for the fearful

    Did you know that almost everyone in Federal Prison has been put there by a US ATTORNEY

    The Outrage!

    EricPWJohnson (695c44)

  10. Except there aren’t any records of Mickey Mouse of ACORN voting. Instead of disenfranchising genuine voters, go out and show me some cases of voting fraud as opposed to voter registration fraud (except, disenfranchisement is the real motive). And not one of you have dared rebut the patently discriminatory implementation of voter ID in Georgia, which leads me to conclude your entire argument is in bad faith.

    Now, we do have this case of Republicans’ improper absentee ballot applications. And we have some recount fraud here, but I haven’t been able to determine the party affiliation of the guilty. Funny how little we hear about that from Opinion Journal.

    This “voter fraud” is the next fake WMD of the ongoing war against the Democratic Party. Everyone will be whipped into a panic over nen-existent BS, the better to make them stupid.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (8dc76c)

  11. I already linked evidence of improper votes in Washington State in an earlier post. Was it “fraud”? I don’t know; McKay didn’t investigate sufficiently enough to find out.

    Patterico (04465c)

  12. […] Mark Finnern wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThe appointment, the first under the controversial Patriot Act provision, raised eyebrows at DOJ, one former senior Justice Department official told Salon. “Schlozman was one of Gonzales’ guys,” the former senior official said, … […]

    salon » Comment on Former DoJ Official: Pursuing Voter Fraud Cases … (28d0bd)

  13. “There is almost no evidence of voter fraud, especially on the huge scale posited by the Republicans.”

    Uh, that’s rather the point: We have no measures in place by which to determine the magnitude of the problem. This lack of safeguards so that legal votes are not diluted by fraud is both improper and abusive. D’oh!

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)

  14. I would think that anyone who truly wants integrity in our system of government would want integrity in the voting process, and would be concerned about both voter fraud and suppressing voter turnout. I would think there would be ways where legislators from both parties could arrive at a reasonable solution.

    Either there is regular voter fraud in Philadelphia (where Dems rule the city), or more resurrections annually than recorded in the entire Bible (some not only “see dead people” here, but watch them vote).

    People are supposed to have ID (in PA anyway) to buy cigarettes if they are “less than 35″. While in one way it would be ok to make it easier to vote than buy cigarettes, in another way voting is a more responsible activity than buying cigarettes, and to think it is harder to buy cigarettes for some individuals than vote seems a bit bizarre. (Of course, there are places where one can buy cigarettes without getting your ID checked in Philadelphia).

    The one link from Lazarus (speaking of resurrections) discusses voter ID’s in context of driving licenses and likelihood of owning a car. While a valid driver’s license, car registration, and insurance are required by law to drive in Philadelphia (no surprise there), it is estimated than up to one half of driver’s in the city lack at least one of these. (Years ago some friends went to a notary to get a car registration after moving here from out of state. The notary had “automatically” put in false insurance info for them before they had a chance to show their valid insurance.)

    I guess “I can also think” that a locale that doesn’t put a priority on valid and legal drivers doesn’t mind not putting a priority on other things, like valid and legal elections, either.

    I am not interested in arguing about who is for what until someone makes it clear they are interested in both.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  15. I don’t know; McKay didn’t investigate sufficiently enough to find out.

    Sufficient investigation = indicts Democrats and/or overturns results. (Did you know that the WA Secretary of State who supervised this election was a Republican?) Timeline of McKay’s investigation; McKay states he found nothing actionable. Anybody else see the difference between “didn’t investigate” and “investigated and found nothing”?

    We have no measures in place by which to determine the magnitude of the problem.

    So Federal Dog says: “Sentence first, trial later!” (What do you suppose would be the reaction if a similar standard were applied to draconian new gun control laws, on the grounds we have no measurements available?)

    It’s worth mentioning that onerous ID requirements that apply to in-person voting can’t possible stop absentee ballot fraud. Funny thing how the “remedy” the GOP likes works to disenfranchise legitimate Democratic-leaning voters without addressing in any way what may be the largest part of the “problem” (if indeed there is any problem). Of course, we also saw this in the so-called felon purges, where GOP-affiliated consultants and GOP government officials showed conspicuous indifference to false positive matches.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (0f6e4c)

  16. Crane says he was disappointed with Romney’s answer to his question the other night. Crane asked if Romney believed the president should have the authority to arrest U.S. citizens with no review. Romney said he would want to hear the pros and cons from smart lawyers before he made up his mind. Crane said that he had asked Giuliani the same question a few weeks ago. The mayor said that he would want to use this authority infrequently.”

    You’re a lawyer Pat, and a Republican. As a “lefty” I’d like to ask you the same question. What does our constitution say?

    AF (c319c8)

  17. I did read your link, Mr. Lazarus, and I still say that it is a more than reasonable inference that false registrations will be used to cast invalid votes. D’oh.

    The WAPO article refuses to call anything “voter fraud” except a person caught red-handed casting an invalid vote (where did they learn to write like this, the LAT?). If that is your definition, you and they may be right about the small numbers of fraudulent votes. Again, you will have to wait for another Democrat to win, I guess, before the AG can ignore such a trifling, in your opinion, issue.

    Patricia (824fa1)

  18. “So Federal Dog says: “Sentence first, trial later!”

    Where did I say that?

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)


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