Patterico's Pontifications

4/12/2007

TPM on McClatchy Story about DOJ Attorneys and the Republican National Lawyers Association

Filed under: Current Events,Government,Law,Media Bias,Politics — WLS @ 4:47 pm



[Posted by WLS]

This story seems to have run out of steam as events of the day involving Imus and the controversy over WH/RNC emails have taken over.

But, TPM has a link to a McClatchy story exploring the fact that approx. 25 DOJ attorneys are listed as members of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA).

The McClatchy story begins with a somewhat ominous tone, but eventually gets around to pointing out that most DOJ attorneys are not restricted from belonging to organizations like this, or for working on behalf of partisan political organizations on their own time, though the author includes a variety of “I’m concerned about the appearances blah blah blah” from various and sundry “former DOJ officials”. One guy who they did quote was Stanley Hunterton, a former federal prosecutor of 12 years before he left the department in 1985. I guess no one at McClatchy bothered to look into the fact that the Hatch Act was substantially revised by Congress in 1993 to allow/encourage more overt partisan political activity by government workers, including DOJ attorneys. So, the law wasn’t the same during Mr. Hunterton’s time with DOJ as it is now.

But, the TPMmuckraker post really gets silly when it begins sniffing out some nefarious goings-on involving two members of RNLA who happen to work in the Voting Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division of DOJ.

Take two of those listed names in particular: Christian Adams and Joshua Rogers, both lawyers in the voting section. The section, which is charged with protecting minority voters from discrimination, has filed only two cases on behalf of African American voters during the Bush administration (and one of those cases they inherited from the Clinton administration).

But the section has, remarkably, pursued the first case to allege discrimination against white voters ever filed under the Voting Rights Act.

That case is United States v. Ike Brown and Noxubee County. It’s a case essentially against the Noxubee County Democratic Party — it’s one of the named defendants in the complaint. And Ike Brown is chairman of the county Democratic committee. The complaint alleges that Brown has been trying to limit whites’ participation in local elections.

And who are the two lawyers in the section handling the case? Christian Adams and Joshua Rogers.

Do you think there’s an appearance of conflict there?

Now it’s obvious that no one at TPMmuckraker bothered to look too closely at the Noxubee case, because had they done so, they would have found that DOJ attorneys Adams and Rogers filed suit on behalf of white DEMOCRAT voters who were being racially excluded from running for office and voting by the African-American Democrat majority in the county (62% of voting age population) which ran the County Elections Commission, and is alleged to have recruited non-resident African-American candidates to run in the Dem. primary in county races for which they were not eligible; to have applied different rules for accepting and counting of absentee ballots depending on whether the ballot came from a white voter or an African American voter; to have allowed African American residents of surrounding counties to vote in Noxubee County primary contests while putting up barriers to voting by white voters who lived in Noxubee County.

The complaint is 18 pages long. You can read the details for yourself here.

You just can’t trust those RNLA members — off filing complaints on behalf of oppressed Democrat voters.

— WLS

11 Responses to “TPM on McClatchy Story about DOJ Attorneys and the Republican National Lawyers Association”

  1. WLS, As long as you’re writing about “Democrat” voters and not “Democratic” voters, no Democrats are going to follow your links or give a crap what you are saying, even if it’s one of a certain clock’s two chances per day.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (48ef54)

  2. I suspect no Democrats are going to follow the links regardless. They are too busy going “Lalalalalalala…I can’t hear you.” If they, you know, had an open mind and really looked, they might actually learn something. But it wouldn’t follow the “Democrat” party line, so it would taint them…

    Bill M (c00fa3)

  3. funny you should focus on this and not the missing emails. that’s where the action is.

    assistant devil's advocate (4e273e)

  4. What missing e-mails?

    Patterico (5b0b7f)

  5. the ones that the administration says were accidentally deleted from rnc servers. the ones about which senator leahy just accused the administration of lying. i could probably go in and recover them, and i’m not even a techie.

    assistant devil's advocate (4e273e)

  6. I’m waiting for the missing email story to sort itself out a little more. There’s a lot of questions, but not many answers.

    There is also a document dump due late tonight or tomorrow morning, with another 1000 pages of DOJ/WH records re the US Attorneys issue.

    wls (859dc4)

  7. the ones that the administration says were accidentally deleted from rnc servers. the ones about which senator leahy just accused the administration of lying. i could probably go in and recover them, and i’m not even a techie.

    Oh. I thought you were talking about the 18-day gap that was really a seven-day gap.

    I haven’t followed the RNC e-mails story. Perils of vacationing.

    Patterico (5b0b7f)

  8. For edification purposes — Some WH employees that wore two hats, and have a statutory exemption to do so — i.e., the Karl Roves and Paul Begalas of WH operations — are required to not use government resources in performing tasks that are essentially political. Some employees of the WH have a statutory exemption from on-the-job political activity because Congress recognized that part of the job of the WH staff is to advocate the policy positions of the Admin. against the Admin. political opponents — whether the Admin. is a GOP Admin. or a Dem. Admin.

    So, even while employed by the WH, Karl Rove can work with the RNC on “get-out-the-vote” efforts designed to elect GOP candidates because such efforts also serve to advance the Admin. policy agenda. Same rules existed for the work done by Begala and Carville while on WH payroll.

    But, those employees cannot use materials paid for by the taxpayers — such as computer systems. So, as has been the case in the past 3-4 Pres. Administrations, the RNC set up computers in the WH that are networked to servers in the RNC. These are separate and apart from government computers which have servers maintained by the WH.

    Both sets of computers have email systems, and WH staff that do political work with the RNC have to make decisions sometimes about what system they should use to communicate with the RNC.

    In 2004 it came out in response to a Fitzgerald subpoena that the RNC had a practice of dumping deleted e-mail messages from their servers every 30 days. They changed that policy because the Records Act requires that all documents from Pres. Admin. be preserved.

    There is some question today about when the RNC retention policy was changed, what communications involving Rove were on the RNC network and not the WH network, and how many of those communications were lost under the old system.

    Lots of questions so far today, and not much in the way of enlightenment yet.

    wls (859dc4)

  9. Yeah, ada, it’s so much harder to accidently delete e-mails than it is to, say, stuff classified documents up your *ss. To say nothing of “losing” whole boxes of Rose Law Firm billing records in your bedroom for 2 years.

    Oh, and Lazarus, a lot of us are simply done caring what Democrats think. We’re just waiting until you’ve bought enough rope that the populace will let us hang you with it. Aux la lanternes!

    SDN (0e4377)

  10. ‘What missing emails?”
    “I haven’t followed the RNC e-mails story. Perils of vacationing.”

    Selective perception.

    semanticleo (2f60f4)

  11. Regardless of what’s allowed or not allowed, it’s still unseemly, and it fits the pattern of the Bush/Cheney Administration and the DOJ under Ashcroft and Gonzales perfectly.

    As I understand it, Adams and Rogers could NOT represent a private party while working at DOJ, so why are they listed on the sites’ Republican Lawyer Finder?

    Also, this is a pretty selective entry, so here’s a fuller account of the goings-on at the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division: http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/002989.php

    Inside The Bush DoJ’s Purge of The Civil Rights Division
    By Paul Kiel – April 17, 2007, 3:41 PM
    Over the past six years, the Bush administration has aggressively reshaped the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Many career analysts and attorneys have either been transferred or driven out; their replacements are long on conservative credentials and short on civil rights experience.

    Here’s an inside account of what it’s like inside from Toby Moore, a redistricting expert with the division’s voting section until the spring of 2006. Like many of his colleagues, he left due to the hostile atmosphere in the section, where he says there was a pattern of selective intimidation towards career staff.

    According to Moore, his supervisor and the political appointees in the section consistently criticized his work because it didn’t jibe with their pre-drawn conclusions. That was bad enough, he said, but the real trouble came after he and three colleagues recommended opposing a Georgia voter I.D. law pushed by Republicans. After the recommendation, which clashed with the views of Moore’s superiors, they reprimanded him for not adequately analyzing the evidence and accused him of mistreating his Republican colleague, with whom he’d had frequent disagreements. But it got worse. Moore said that his Republican superiors even monitored his emails, eventually filing a complaint against him with the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility for allegedly disclosing privileged information in one email (he was cleared of wrongdoing). Fed up, and worried that it was too dangerous to his professional future to remain there, he left.

    Moore said that his experience was similar to others in the section who’d disagreed with conservative attorneys working at the Justice Department. Over the following year, all three of Moore’s colleagues who’d joined him in opposing the law either left or were transferred out of the section. The senior member of the team, Robert Berman, the deputy chief of the section and a 28-year veteran of the Civil Rights Division, was transferred to the Office of Professional Development — what Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has called “a dead-end job.”

    The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility opened and conducted an investigation into the section’s handling of the Georgia I.D. law. Joe Rich, the former chief of the voting section, told me that he was interviewed by investigators in 2006. It’s not clear, however, what the outcome of the investigation was.

    “Mr. Moore’s allegations about political interference in the Civil Rights Division surrounding the Georgia memo, are very much in line with what we are learning daily about this Justice Department,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) told TPMmuckraker. Nadler is the chairman of a House Judiciary subcommittee that held a hearing on the voting section last month. “A clear picture is developing of a department culture that seems to encourage politically-motivated, improper and lawless activity.”

    The voting section is tasked under the Voting Rights Act with reviewing new legislation in certain regions in order to prevent regulations that might lead to discrimination against minority voters. When Moore and his colleagues examined the Georgia voter-identification law, they found a lot to worry about. Their bosses weren’t interested.

    “They weren’t really interested in investigating Georgia’s submission,” Moore, who has a Ph.D. in geography and had been with the section since 2000, told me. “They were mainly interested in assembling evidence to support pre-clearance. Any attempt to bring up counter-evidence to suggest a discriminatory impact was ignored or critiqued. We were told it was our own bias…. Any evidence in support was embraced uncritically.”

    The problems with Georgia’s new law were legion, as outlined in the “Recommendation Memorandum” that Moore and his colleagues compiled.

    To start with, jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act (mostly in southern states) are required to show that law changes will not have a discriminatory impact on minority voters. In the case of Georgia, the law change would have revised an earlier voter-I.D. law that allowed a variety of forms of identification (such as a utility bill); the new law restricted acceptable forms to photo I.D. But the law’s advocates could provide no evidence that African Americans would not be disproportionately affected by the bill. In fact, the law had been pushed largely on the basis of assertions contained in Stealing Elections, a book by conservative journalist John Fund and what was called “anecdotal evidence.”

    Other evidence pointed even more strongly to nefarious motives behind the legislation. According to the Recommendation Memorandum, George state Rep. Sue Burmeister, the sponsor of the bill, told section staff that “if there are fewer black voters because of this bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud,” and that “when black voters in her black precincts are not paid to vote, they do not go to the polls.”

    For that and a host of other reasons, Moore and three of his colleagues recommended against clearing the bill. A single member on their review team, a young Republican lawyer, supported clearance. Yet Moore’s team was nevertheless overruled and the bill was cleared. In a telling sequel to these events at the Justice Department, a federal appeals court judge later barred implementation of the law, comparing it to a Jim Crow-era poll tax.)

    Things went downhill from there.

    A few weeks later, Moore said, he and all three of his colleagues were called in one by one to speak with voting section chief John Tanner. All four were criticized for their performance on the Georgia I.D. memo.

    In the private meeting, Moore said that Tanner criticized him for his performance — for not adequately analyzing the evidence — and for his behavior. “I was accused of mistreating the Republican-hired attorney, because I criticized some of the things he said and did,” Moore told me, adding that there had been frequent disagreements between the lawyer, Joshua Rogers, and the others on the team. “He was just out of law school and had only been in the section a few months. He was saying things and writing things in his memos that we believed were incorrect… We had some very sharp disagreements with him.”

    Moore said that instead of meeting with Tanner like the others, Rogers was “called over to main Justice and commended for his work on the case.” Rogers, a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association, is still with the section.

    But it didn’t stop there. Moore said that there was persistent gossip in the section that the political appointees who supervised the division had been monitoring staff’s emails.

    This suspicion was confirmed, he said, when Bradley J. Schlozman, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division (now an unconfirmed U.S. Attorney installed after the revision to the Patriot Act) and Hans von Skakovsy, Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights (now a commissioner with the Federal Election Commission), filed a complaint against him with the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

    The charge, Moore said, was that he had violated department rules by discussing one of the section’s cases in an email to a friend who used to work in the Civil Rights Division. He was interviewed by investigators. According to an April, 2006 letter from OPR reviewed by TPMmuckraker, Moore was cleared of any wrongdoing.

    But Moore had had enough. Worried about the likelihood of receiving a poor performance review from his superiors, he left in April of last year. “I felt very much retaliated against,” he said. “It happened to a lot of us who disagreed.”

    Moore currently works as the project manager for the Commission on Federal Election Reform at American University.

    In response to this piece, Justice Department spokeswoman Cynthia Magnuson said that the Privacy Act prevented the department from discussing personnel issues. But she did say that the decision to clear the Georgia voter identification law “followed a careful analysis that lasted several months and considered all of the relevant factors.”

    Moore took issue with that. “Did we [examine all of the relevant factors]? Yes. Did they consider them? No.”

    ohiomeister (8951ce)


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