Patterico's Pontifications

4/18/2007

Why Was Biskupic Taken off the Firing List? This Could Be Why

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:13 am



I have found a possible reason that Steven Biskupic was taken off the list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired. As a reason for Biskupic’s reprieve, it makes a lot more sense than the Georgia Thompson prosecution. It’s much closer in time, and it relates to voter fraud — the same issue that (some think) put Biskupic on the list to begin with.

Just one problem for the Democrats: if I’m right, there’s nothing particularly nefarious about it.

Recall the timing. In 2005, Wisconsin Republicans complained that Biskupic had been inadequately aggressive in pursuing voter fraud. In early 2006, Biskupic’s office indicted Georgia Thompson, and convicted her in June. (For more on that case, see WLS’s excellent post below.) Months later, according to Josh Marshall, Biskupic was added to the firing list. Marshall theorizes that this occurred on or after October 17, 2006.

I have already discussed at considerable length the reasons that it makes little sense to conclude that Biskupic was taken off the list because of the Georgia Thompson prosecution. If that prosecution was so gosh-darned important to the Bushies, why hadn’t they heard about it during the four months that had passed since her conviction? And if Biskupic was really feeling heat due to dissatisfaction over his handling of voter fraud cases, wouldn’t it make more sense for him to be more aggressive in the specific area of voter fraud?

Indeed, an ethical prosecutor — which Biskupic is, by all accounts, including those of local Democrats — might respond by aggressively working to ensure that voter fraud didn’t take place in the next election.

Which, it just so happens, is exactly what Biskupic did.

From a press release dated October 17, 2006:

United States Attorney Steven M. Biskupic announced today that Richard G. Frohling, an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, will lead the efforts of his office in the connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 7, 2006 general elections. AUSA Frohling has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters.

On October 8, 2002, then Attorney General John Ashcroft established a Department-wide Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative. The goals of this Initiative are to increase the Department’s ability to deter election fraud and discrimination at the polls and to prosecute these offenses whenever and wherever they occur – to make voting easier and cheating harder. Both goals are equally important.

It is imperative that in pursuing voter integrity, ballot access is not in any way diminished or harmed. The Department’s long-standing Election Day Program furthers the goals of the Initiative. The Program also is intended to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election process by providing local points of contact within the Department where the public can report possible election fraud and voting rights violations while the polls are open on election day. The franchise is the cornerstone of American democracy. We all must ensure that those who are entitled to the franchise exercise it, while those who seek to corrupt it are brought to justice.

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 Biskupic has stated that AUSA Frohling and AUSA Greg Haanstad will be on duty while the polls are open and throughout the election process. They can be reached by the public at (414) 297-4528 and (414) 297-4581. The FBI also will have special agents available to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses. The FBI can be reached by the public at (414) 276-4684. In addition, complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can be made to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, DC at 1-800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2767.

In explaining his office’s efforts, United States Attorney Biskupic 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.” United States Attorney Biskupic encouraged anyone who may have specific information suggesting electoral corruption or voting rights abuses to report that information to his office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.

Now, there’s nothing shocking about this press release. USAs issue press releases all the time, and this effort appears to have been part of a nationwide program. Still, by deeming it important enough to publicize, Biskupic was showing that he cared about voter fraud. By contrast, local Southern California offices do not appear to have issued press releases on this issue (see the relevant Central District press releases from the time period here, and those from the Southern District here).

As a possible reason for Biskupic’s reprieve, this makes a good deal of sense.

First, it shows Biskupic being aggressive in the particular area of concern: voter fraud — unlike the Thompson prosecution, which had nothing to do with that area of concern.

Also, unlike the Thompson prosecution, the initiative described in this press release might not have been known to the individual who added Biskupic’s name to the firing list. According to Josh Marshall, Biskupic was initially targeted for firing on or after October 17, 2005 — coincidentally, the date of the press release. When Biskupic was targeted, the Bush Administration would certainly have been aware of the Thompson conviction, which had occurred four months earlier — especially if, as Democrats claim, it was important to the Bush Administration.

By contrast, the person who added Biskupic’s name to the list might have been unaware that he had issued a press release regarding prevention of voter fraud in the upcoming election. A press release like this is the kind of news that doesn’t necessarily travel with lightning speed.

This press release appears to have been completely proper — and didn’t even require intervention by the Bush Administration. Certainly Biskupic was aware of local dissatisfaction over his handling of past allegations of voter fraud. Even if nobody in the Bush Administration had ever mentioned it, it was likely part of the talk of the town. As an ethical prosecutor, Biskupic might have thought to himself: I can’t respond to this criticism by bringing unfounde prosecutions, obviously — but I can show local officials that I am aware of the issue and treat it seriously.

Doesn’t that make a lot more sense than the time-travel required by the Democrats’ Georgia Thompson theory?

I guess we’ll learn more about it tomorrow, when Gonzales testifies.

16 Responses to “Why Was Biskupic Taken off the Firing List? This Could Be Why”

  1. I hear Joseph Goebbels was an excellent father, but then…… Really, some actions could be benign, but the totality?

    Relatively ot;

    “And today, in a letter to the RNC, the White House made their position clear: you have to give them to us first. There ‘exists a clear and indisputable Executive Branch interest’ in the emails on the RNC-issued accounts, wrote Emmet Flood, Special Counsel to the President.”

    A commenter @ emptywheel asks; “What is the
    statute of limitations on RICO? Or, which USA would you send to the WH BEFORE 2009?

    semanticleo (2f60f4)

  2. Ah, yes, the old voter fraud.

    So far the Rove Voter Fraud initiative has netted 86 convictions, none of which was part of an organized conspiracy. Also featured are such miscarriages of justice as convicting a non-citizen who filled out a voter registration form he was handed at DMV.

    To put the extent of voter fraud in perspective, in the same period of time, Zeus has claimed over 300 lives with lightning bolts.

    No wonder we need to disenfranchise the Negroes, e.g., with the Georgia ID program that featured ID that couldn’t be obtained anywhere within the city of Atlanta. (No Patterico poster or commenter has bothered to defend the particulars of the Georgia law. I wonder why.)

    Andrew J. Lazarus (4e7e11)

  3. Andrew: you caught us. everything the GOP does is driven by our desire to screw blacks and other minorities. we all get together (after getting an email from Karl Rove), sit around a burning cross and ask: what can we do today that keeps blacks, women, illegal immigrants and the poor in their place? Last year we decided to disenfranchise blacks by requiring people showing up to vote to prove that they were in fact who they said they were. Next year, we’re going to….. oops, I’ve got to go, I’ve said too much.

    steve sturm (40e5a6)

  4. I’m pretty sure that it is DOJ policy that every office of the US Attorney — including Division offices in each district — have a specific AUSA desigated as the “Election Duty Officer” for every national election. That person is responsible for handling all election day calls reporting irregularities, or inquiries regarding voting procedures.

    This is necessary because every election, without fail, some local business, restaurant, etc., offers some kind of promotion that “rewards” people who have voted. Sometimes its a harmless as a free slice of pie just for showing your voter registration card. These kinds of “inducements” or “rewards” are illegal under federal law — no matter how minor — and its the job of the Election Duty Officer to call up the offender and advise them of the law and the need to discontinue the promotion.

    WLS (077d0d)

  5. So, Steve: how come so few cases of voter fraud turned up, that we would be better off with an anti-lightning campaign, and why is there no place to get Voter ID within miles of Atlanta? It is not, of course, the case that everything the GOP does is to screw blacks and other minorities, but the Georgia Voter ID law was an example of an act to screw blacks. The Civil Rights Division at DoJ knew that, too, until the professionals there were conveniently replaced with Bushbots.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  6. WLS,

    That’s my impression from the press release: it’s a national program. But it’s more effective when well publicized. What I’m highlighting is Biskupic’s decision to issue a press release — showing he wants to be proactive on the issue.

    Patterico (818020)

  7. with the Georgia ID program that featured ID that couldn’t be obtained anywhere within the city of Atlanta.

    (a) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this Code section, each elector shall present proper identification to a poll worker at or prior to completion of a voteŕs certificate at any polling place and prior to such persońs admission to the enclosed space at such polling place. Proper identification shall consist of any one of the following:
    (1) A Georgia driveŕs license which was properly issued by the appropriate state agency;
    (2) A valid Georgia voter identification card issued under Code Section 21-2-417.1 or other valid identification card issued by a branch, department, agency, or entity of the State of Georgia, any other state, or the United States authorized by law to issue personal identification, provided that such identification card contains a photograph of the elector;
    (3) A valid United States passport;
    (4) A valid employee identification card containing a photograph of the elector and issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the United States government, this state, or any county, municipality, board, authority, or other entity of this state;
    (5) A valid United States military identification card, provided that such identification card contains a photograph of the elector; or
    (6) A valid tribal identification card containing a photograph of the elector.
    (b) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this Code section, if an elector is unable to produce any of the items of identification listed in subsection (a) of this Code section, he or she shall be allowed to vote a provisional ballot pursuant to Code Section 21-2-418 upon swearing or affirming that the elector is the person identified in the elector’s voter certificate. Such provisional ballot shall only be counted if the registrars are able to verify current and valid identification of the elector as provided in subsection (a) of this Code section within the time period for verifying provisional ballots pursuant to Code Section 21-2-419.

    OH MY GOD, THE HORROR!

    Now, prove to me that you are unable to acquire a passport in the city of Atlanta. And that somehow a law that requires you to prove who you are before voting but lets you vote even if you can’t somehow prevents you from voting.

    Taltos (c99804)

  8. Taltos, what’s the cost of a passport just now? Instant $100 poll tax. Of course, to yuppies surfing the internet, no biggie, I’ve got mine, but…

    It bears repeating: these Voter ID laws are a solution in search of a problem. Years of Rovian investigation haven’t found a significant cost to the system where people vote with non-photo ID (e.g., a utility bill sent to the correct address, as in the old Georgia law). Is it really the case that the GOP can’t find any poll watchers in those neighborhoods who recognize their neighbors (well, now that I mention it…) So, what could the problem be? Is it the high percentage of Democratic voters in the areas far from DMV offices? Why, I do believe that might be so!

    I wouldn’t even object to the system, even though it appears to be unnecessary, if it were easier to obtain the ID.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  9. Patterico — I suspect you are correct.

    The policy I mentioned is an internal policy, not something that DOJ publicizes. Biskupic’s decision to make a press release on his office’s efforts, given the history of election issues in Milwaukee especially, was a laudatory example of bringing attention to the matter in a public way, demonstrating his committment to the subject, and establishing some confidence in the electorate that running clean elections was a priority of the Department.

    WLS (077d0d)

  10. And to follow up, not only are us Republicans determined to do everything we can to keep blacks from voting, but we’re rather incompetent in that the laws we pass are going to keep very few legitimate would-be black voters from voting. Rather silly of us, isn’t it, to go through all this trouble in order to keep a relative handful of blacks from voting… and in districts where we had no chance of winning anyway.

    Well at least Karl’s plan to infiltrate Diebold and rig the electronic voting totals in Ohio in 2004 worked….

    stevesturm (d3e296)

  11. (e.g., a utility bill sent to the correct address, as in the old Georgia law). Is it really the case that the GOP can’t find any poll watchers in those neighborhoods who recognize their neighbors

    1.) A utility bill proves nothing as to your identity. Anyone can get ahold of a utility bill, walk in, and say you’re whomever’s name is on it.

    2.) The impetus has to be on the voter to prove they are who they say they are rather than on the poll workers to prove it, they have more important things to deal with.

    3.) The we’re out to subjugate the black man argument doesn’t fly.

    From a washington post article on the law

    But Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella cited the state’s data in an Oct. 7 letter to a senator that argues the number of eligible voters without a photo ID is “extremely small.”

    “All individual data indicates that the state’s African-American citizens are, if anything, slightly more likely than white citizens to possess one of the necessary forms of identification,” Moschella wrote to Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.) in defense of the department’s decision.

    It basically boils down to this, if voting is important to you, the effort required to get a valid ID isn’t anything daunting and in the process they’re making the system more secure. The availability or lack thereof of the free IDs is a reason to call for greater availability not to get rid of the law.

    Taltos (c99804)

  12. Andrew:

    This isn’t snark, it’s a genuine question based on reading through this thread: are there no DMVs in Atlanta? It looks like a driver’s license is OK.

    Patterico (1c5a43)

  13. They call it DDS in Georgia for some reason.

    http://www.dds.ga.gov/

    According to the site there is at least one office in Atlanta and seven others within 20 miles.

    Taltos (c99804)

  14. I don’t live in Georgia, but as of the time the injunction was issued, according to the Washington Post

    On top of that, the state recently reorganized the Department of Motor Vehicles, paring down the number of offices. After the reorganization, there were no DMV offices in Atlanta, a city with a wide black majority. The closest station is at least nine miles away. Fewer than 60 of the state’s 159 counties have DMV offices. State officials countered that they were providing a single vehicle, known as the GLOW bus, to traverse the state, providing applications and licenses to those with the proper documents. Critics expressed disbelief that one bus could accommodate the needs of so many potential voters.

    The same article stated that in the election preceding the law, an estimated 150,000 voters did have a drivers license. (How many of these voters had other ID and did not choose to present it is not known to me.) Both of these facts appear in the complaint, so it appears that Georgia has re-opened some DMV offices.

    I find it amazing, sort of, that the commenters here make light of bigotry. That’s all so 1953, right? Here‘s what the sponsor of the measure had to say about it.

    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.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (bea69d)

  15. And what if she’s right? As you said you don’t live in Georgia, she does. Perhaps she has some knowledge gleaned from living there that you don’t have. Saying bad things about black people doesn’t make you a bigot or a racist, especially if the things you say happen to be true.

    Taltos (c99804)


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