Thursday, April 12, 2007

meanwhile, Ann Coulter runs free. . .

From today’s New York Times:

For some convicted people, the consequences have been significant. Kimberly Prude, 43, has been jailed in Milwaukee for more than a year after being convicted of voting while on probation, an offense that she attributes to confusion over eligibility.

In Pakistan, Usman Ali is trying to rebuild his life after being deported from Florida, his legal home of more than a decade, for improperly filling out a voter-registration card while renewing his driver’s license.

In Alaska, Rogelio Mejorada-Lopez, a Mexican who legally lives in the United States, may soon face a similar fate, because he voted even though he was not eligible.

I bet you thought from the headline that I was going to talk about Imus again. . . nope. . . you see, while the Bush Administration has bee using the full weight of its Justice Department to uncover (invent?) what has proven to be nearly non-existent evidence of voter fraud, destroying individual lives, like those mentioned above, in the course of its exhaustive “investigations,” a woman who knowingly falsified her voter registration form and then voted in a district in which she didn’t live remains free and un-prosecuted for her felonious behavior. That woman is Ann Coulter.

As the Times makes clear, most of those who have been prosecuted for this so-called “fraud” are Democrats, poor, and non-white. They are individuals—most of whom were just confused or mistaken when they committed their “crimes”—the DoJ has yet to uncover any kind of conspiracy.

Of course, the White House has itself been involved in conspiracies to disenfranchise voters (Florida, Ohio, and New Hampshire come to mind), and Republicans in Georgia (with the help of the Bush Justice Department) have tried to institute a cumbersome voter registration ID system that federal judges have labeled a de facto poll tax. But, pay no mind to the short fat flunky behind the curtain!

Which brings us (again) back to Alberto Gonzales:

The push to prosecute voter fraud figured in the removals last year of at least two United States attorneys whom Republican politicians or party officials had criticized for failing to pursue cases.

The campaign has roiled the Justice Department in other ways, as career lawyers clashed with a political appointee over protecting voters’ rights, and several specialists in election law were installed as top prosecutors.

Department officials defend their record. “The Department of Justice is not attempting to make a statement about the scale of the problem,” a spokesman, Bryan Sierra, said. “But we are obligated to investigate allegations when they come to our attention and prosecute when appropriate.”

Officials at the department say that the volume of complaints has not increased since 2002, but that it is pursuing them more aggressively.

Previously, charges were generally brought just against conspiracies to corrupt the election process, not against individual offenders, Craig Donsanto, head of the elections crimes branch, told a panel investigating voter fraud last year. For deterrence, Mr. Donsanto said, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales authorized prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against individuals.

Some of those cases have baffled federal judges.

“I find this whole prosecution mysterious,” Judge Diane P. Wood of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, said at a hearing in Ms. Prude’s case. “I don’t know whether the Eastern District of Wisconsin goes after every felon who accidentally votes. It is not like she voted five times. She cast one vote.”

The Justice Department stand is backed by Republican Party and White House officials, including Karl Rove, the president’s chief political adviser. The White House has acknowledged that he relayed Republican complaints to President Bush and the Justice Department that some prosecutors were not attacking voter fraud vigorously. In speeches, Mr. Rove often mentions fraud accusations and warns of tainted elections.

. . . .

Enlisted to help lead the effort was Hans A. von Spakovsky, a lawyer and Republican volunteer in the Florida recount. As a Republican election official in Atlanta, Mr. Spakovsky had pushed for stricter voter identification laws. Democrats say those laws disproportionately affect the poor because they often mandate government-issued photo IDs or driver’s licenses that require fees.

At the Justice Department, Mr. Spakovsky helped oversee the voting rights unit. In 2003, when the Texas Congressional redistricting spearheaded by the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, was sent to the Justice Department for approval, the career staff members unanimously said it discriminated against African-American and Latino voters.

Mr. Spakovsky overruled the staff, said Joseph Rich, a former lawyer in the office. Mr. Spakovsky did the same thing when they recommended the rejection of a voter identification law in Georgia considered harmful to black voters. Mr. Rich said. Federal courts later struck down the two laws.

Former lawyers in the office said Mr. Spakovsky’s decisions seemed to have a partisan flavor unlike those in previous Republican and Democratic administrations. Mr. Spakovsky declined to comment.

. . . .

At the same time, the [Justice] department encouraged United States attorneys to bring charges in voter fraud cases, not a priority in prior administrations. The prosecutors attended training seminars, were required to meet regularly with state or local officials to identify possible cases and were expected to follow up accusations aggressively.

The Republican National Committee and its state organizations supported the push, repeatedly calling for a crackdown. In what would become a pattern, Republican officials and lawmakers in a number of states, including Florida, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Washington, made accusations of widespread abuse, often involving thousands of votes.

In swing states, including Ohio and Wisconsin, party leaders conducted inquiries to find people who may have voted improperly and prodded officials to act on their findings.

But the party officials and lawmakers were often disappointed. The accusations led to relatively few cases, and a significant number resulted in acquittals

. . . .

Previous guidelines had barred federal prosecutions of “isolated acts of individual wrongdoing” that were not part of schemes to corrupt elections. In most cases, prosecutors also had to prove an intent to commit fraud, not just an improper action.

That standard made some federal prosecutors uneasy about proceeding with charges, including David C. Iglesias, who was the United States attorney in New Mexico, and John McKay, the United States attorney in Seattle.

Although both found instances of improper registration or voting, they declined to bring charges, drawing criticism from prominent Republicans in their states. In Mr. Iglesias’s case, the complaints went to Mr. Bush. Both prosecutors were among those removed in December.

In the last year, the Justice Department has installed top prosecutors who may not be so reticent. In four states, the department has named interim or permanent prosecutors who have worked on election cases at Justice Department headquarters or for the Republican Party.

Bradley J. Schlozman has finished a year as interim United States attorney in Missouri, where he filed charges against four people accused of creating fake registration forms for nonexistent people. The forms could likely never be used in voting. The four worked for a left-leaning group, Acorn, and reportedly faked registration cards to justify their wages. The cases were similar to one that Mr. Iglesias had declined to prosecute, saying he saw no intent to influence the outcome of an election.

“The decision to file those indictments was reviewed by Washington,” a spokesman for Mr. Schlozman, Don Ledford, said. “They gave us the go-ahead.”

An extended quote, I know, but it goes to an important point, I think. Purge-gate, as a handy term, doesn’t really do this scandal, um, justice. The corruption at DoJ is not a debate about whether the Attorney General has the right to remove federal prosecutors at the direction of the White House—corrupt as that is—this is a story about a coordinated effort by the party in power to use the Justice Department to manipulate elections and kill investigations into Republican corruption.

The conspiracy here is a vast one—and it is a Republican one.

But you can’t undo in a day what the Bush Administrations spent six years putting in place. So, let’s start small: let’s prosecute Ann Coulter like we have the poor folks mentioned in the above story. Then, if and when she is found guilty (the evidence is overwhelming), let’s throw that straight-haired hate-pimp in jail.


Anonymous Mary said...

How great would it be if ACORN got as much positive publicity now that it has been vindicated of voter fraud charges as it did before the elections when Karl Rove was ginning up false charges?

This Newsweek story, “Rove: A Moving Target,” as well as other recent news reports, have quoted Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson’s testimony that “during the run-up to the midterm elections,” A.G. told him Rove “complained” that David Iglesias, the U.S. attorney in New Mexico, and two other federal prosecutors, were not doing enough to prosecute voter fraud—a top GOP priority. Iglesias told Newsweek he had been pressured to prosecute ACORN workers who were registering voters in minority neighborhoods, but Iglesias had found no cases worth pursuing.

In 2006, ACORN volunteers and staff helped more than 540,000 low-income, young and minority citizens to apply to become registered voters. ACORN has helped more than 1.6 million people register to vote since 2003.

So-called “voter fraud” is a myth used to suppress the minority vote. A report, “The Politics of Voter Fraud,” released in March by Project Vote found that fraudulent voting is extremely rare.

An analysis of federal government records concluded that only 24 people were convicted or pleaded guilty of illegal voting between 2002 and 2005, an average of eight people a year.

ACORN President Maude Hurd said: “While ACORN members are disturbed to learn that helping African Americans and Latinos register to vote invites harassment from the White House, ACORN will continue to fight for the right to vote for every American citizen and spare no effort to encourage voter participation in our communities.”

5:08 PM  
Blogger guy2k said...

Thank you for your comment.

It would be great if Rove’s henchmen apologized to ACORN and the people they’ve wronged. And it would be great if the establishment media stopped pretending that there was this “on the one hand” voter suppression that had an equal “on the other hand” in voter fraud. It’s reminiscent of the debate on global warming before 2006—here, like there, there is no “other hand” equivalent. Widespread voter suppression is documented, widespread voter fraud is not.

It would also be great if the establishment media would make a more concerted effort to tie together the dismissal of the US attorneys with the horrible crimes committed by the Bush DoJ.

I’m not holding my breath on any of these.

5:42 AM  

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