Tuesday, March 13, 2007

US attorney scandal about "voter fraud"

you've probably heard about the burgeoning scandal at the US attorney's office. the bush administration recently fired eight US attorneys (federal prosecutors) because they weren't toeing the republican line closely enough, and tried to replace them with unqualified party hacks. when people noticed, the administration gave a dozen conflicting explanations.

then we found out that members of congress were involved: rep heather wilson and sen pete domenici of new mexico had both complained that their local attorney, david iglesias, wasn't working fast enough... because wilson was in a tough re-election battle and was hoping iglesias would indict her opponent. then we learned karl rove was involved.

now we learn that president bush was personally involved:

Last October, President Bush spoke with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to pass along concerns by Republicans that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud, the White House said Monday. Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, was among the politicians who complained directly to the president, according to an administration official.

josh marshall explains:

There's a sub-issue emerging in the canned US Attorneys scandal: the apparently central role of Republican claims of voter fraud and prosecutors unwillingness to bring indictments emerging from such alleged wrongdoing. Very longtime readers of this site will remember that this used to be something of a hobby horse of mine. And it's not surprising that it is now emerging as a key part of this story. The very short version of this story is that Republicans habitually make claims about voter fraud. But the charges are almost invariably bogus. And in most if not every case the claims are little more than stalking horses for voter suppression efforts. That may sound like a blanket charge. But I've reported on and written about this issue at great length. And there's simply no denying the truth of it. So this becomes a critical backdrop to understanding what happened in some of these cases. Why didn't the prosecutors pursue indictments when GOP operatives started yakking about voter fraud? Almost certainly because there just wasn't any evidence for it.

opponents of indiana's recent voter id law have been saying this forever: there's just no evidence that voter fraud happens on any real scale, and when it does, it generally involves absentee ballots and the like. other problems, such as paperless, hackable voting machines, are a much bigger threat to our electoral system.

but i'm getting sidetracked. josh continues:

As has happened so many times in the last six years, the maximal version of this story -- which seemed logical six weeks ago but which I couldn't get myself to believe -- turns out to be true. Indeed, it's worse. We now know that Gonzales, McNulty and Moschella each lied to Congress. We know that the purge was a plan that began at the White House -- and it was overseen by two of President Bush's closest lieutenants in Washington -- Miers and Gonzales. Sampson is the second resignation. There will certainly be more.

And remember this key point: The 'document dump' is meant to get bad news out of the way fast. But it's always a hedge. It never includes the really bad stuff. And if you're not in deep crisis mode, ya' never do it on a Monday.

josh believes that alberto gonzalez and senator domenici are both likely to resign over this scandal. gonzalez's chief of staff, kyle sampson, already resigned today.

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