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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Barnett and Rogers Implicated (Again) in Rove's Plan to Keep Minorities Off Voter Rolls

Facts be damned. No matter how much evidence undermines the validity of the Republican "voter fraud" claims, they keep on insisting there's a "there" there. And they keep sticking to their odd view that, for some strange reason, certain Republican U.S. Attorneys -- many of whom have since been fired by BushCo -- didn't want to prosecute "voter fraud" even though evidence was supposedly abundant. It's never really been explained why any U.S. Attorney would avoid issuing headline-grabbing indictments if the cases could be made.

The truth is that BushCo wanted these prosecutions in battleground states despite there being no real evidence of crimes -- and they were dedicated to applying political pressure to get them even if they weren't justified. Politics is politics and political gain often seems to be the only goal of Rove et al. What's a little destruction of the integrity and ethics of the U.S. Justice Department when Congressional seats are at stake? One of the top priorities of Rove's strategy for the last few election cycles was to disenfranchise minority voters and discourage them from registering to vote. After all, minority voters tend to vote for Democrats. Creating the "voter fraud" myth and launching headline-making investigations were a big part of Rove's plan, and pressure was applied liberally to U.S. Attorneys who were reluctant to play ball.

Wa-Po Piece Debunks "Voter Fraud"
In a Washington Post op-ed this week, Harold Meyerson debunks the long-running Repub "voter fraud" myth in no uncertain terms. Quote:

... five of the 12 federal prosecutors either sacked or considered for sacking last year had been singled out by Rove and other administration officials for nonperformance on voter fraud. Amazingly, all five came from states -- Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington and Wisconsin -- where Republicans were embroiled in tight election contests.

With the home office in Washington breathing down their necks, why did these experienced prosecutors fail to bring voter fraud indictments? The crime, after all, had become a major Justice Department concern. Starting in 2002, Justice required every U.S. attorney to designate a district election officer, whose job it would be to end this epidemic of electoral fraud. These officers' attendance was required at annual training seminars, where they were taught how to investigate, prosecute and convict fraudulent voters. The statutes were adequate; the investigators were primed, well funded and raring to go.

And nothing happened. For the simple reason that when it comes to voter fraud in America, there's no there there. Voter fraud is a myth -- not an urban or rural myth, as such, but a Republican one. [emphasis mine]

...  to prosecute or convict more than a handful of people for voter fraud isn't for lack of trying. Since 2002, the Justice Department's Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative has, as Gonzales put it, "made enforcement of election fraud and corruption offenses a top priority." And yet between October 2002 and September 2005, just 38 cases were brought nationally, and of those, 14 ended in dismissals or acquittals, 11 in guilty pleas, and 13 in convictions.

... And thus, as has so often been the case in the Bush presidency, a government department was instructed to negate its raison d'etre. Just as consumer protection and environmental protection agencies were transformed into agencies protecting manufacturers and despoilers, so Justice -- whose imperishable glory was its role in extending the franchise to African Americans during the civil rights years -- was told that its new mission was to suppress the franchise.

Rogers and Barnett Work the Rove Strategy
Rogers_2Now evidence is mounting that local Repub political operatives Pat Rogers (right) and Mickey Barnett (below left) were, in essence, part of an organized effort in New Mexico to pressure Iglesias to help carry out Rove's strategy.

BarnettBarnett was once a legislative aid to Sen. Domenici and was his pick for a slot on the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors. A former NM Senator, Barnett has also lobbied on behalf of the payday loan industry, Corrections Corporation of Amerca and gambling interests. Albuquerque attorney Patrick Rogers served on the board of the American Center for Voting Rights Legislative Fund, which has ties to The Donatelli group involved in the Swiftboat plot during the 2004 election. He testified about "voter fraud" and the need for voter ID at a U.S House Administration Committee hearing organized by fromer Repub Rep. Bob Ney, who later was jailed for crimes connected with the Abramoff scandal.

In a major story in yesterday's LA Times, David Iglesias describes a politicized lunch where Rogers once again applied the pressure:

Weeks before the 2006 midterm election, then-New Mexico U.S. Atty. David C. Iglesias was invited to dine with a well-connected Republican lawyer in Albuquerque who had been after him for years to prosecute allegations of voter fraud.

"I had a bad feeling about that lunch," said Iglesias, describing his meeting at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen with Patrick Rogers, a lawyer who provided occasional counsel to the New Mexico Republican Party.

When the voter fraud issue came up, Iglesias said, he explained to Rogers that in reviewing more than 100 complaints, he hadn't found any solid enough to justify criminal charges.

... Rogers, Iglesias recalled, had pressed him in 2004 and then again just before the 2006 election to push for voter fraud convictions in the state. Iglesias said he was so concerned about the propriety of the preelection get-together with Rogers that he asked a colleague from the office to join him as a witness.

Sour Grapes When Iglesias Won't Cooperate
As it became more and more clear that Iglesias wouldn't go along with the "voter fraud" charade, complaints by Rogers, Barnett and Sen. Pete Domenici bombarded the Justice Department and White House, urging that Iglesias be replaced. The plot thickens and "all roads lead to Rove."

Unbeknownst to Iglesias, a few months before that lunch, Rogers and another Republican attorney from New Mexico, Mickey Barnett, had complained about Iglesias at the Justice Department in Washington. The session was arranged with the assistance of the department's then-White House liaison, Monica M. Goodling, and an aide to White House political strategist Karl Rove, according to e-mails released recently by congressional investigators.

One of those they met with was Matthew Friedrich, a senior counselor to Gonzales. Friedrich would meet again with Rogers and Barnett in New Mexico, where, he told congressional investigators, the pair complained about Iglesias. They made it clear "that they did not want him to be the U.S. attorney…. They mentioned that they had communicated that with Sen. Domenici, and they also mentioned Karl Rove," Friedrich said, according to a transcript provided by congressional investigators.

... Iglesias has said that he believes "all roads lead to Rove" in explaining the dismissals and that he is counting on the Office of Special Counsel to find the truth.

Obstruction of Justice?
Another fired U.S. Attorney says the political pressure could merit a criminal investigation:

This week, another fired U.S. attorney who has said he felt pressure on voter fraud cases, John McKay of Seattle, said he thought interference with Iglesias and other prosecutors amounted to "possible obstruction of justice." He predicted that a criminal inquiry would be launched. He said he felt pressure to bring voter fraud charges in his district after a 129-vote margin put a Democratic governor into office in Washington.

Remember that both Sen. Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson made phone calls to Iglesias in the run-up to the 2006 election that he perceived to be intimidating. Clearly, a message was being sent to Iglesias and other recalcitrant U.S. Attorneys that they must proceed with politically motivated indictments and investigations about "voter fraud" and other matters or face the wrath of the DOJ and Rove. Those who didn't respond were put on the to-be-fired list.

Domenici Pushes Rogers to Replace Iglesias
A final "irony": Pat Rogers was one of the names reportedly submitted by Domenici as a suggested replacement for Iglesias. I guess Rogers did such a good job keeping the pressure on Iglesias that Domenici believed he deserved a reward, like any good flunky.

May 20, 2007 at 11:54 AM in Candidates & Races, Crime, Election Reform & Voting, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Local Politics, U.S. Attorney Iglesias | Permalink

Comments

I have two pieces on this in next week's Alibi. One is an interview with David Iglesias. The other looks at Rogers' connections to the American Center for Voting Rights. You're on the right track.

Posted by: Jim Scarantino | May 20, 2007 3:49:09 PM

Hi Jim: I'll be keeping an eye out for those two pieces for sure. I just learned about the existence of Rogers' connection with the American Center for Voting Rights as I was googling around. I'm looking forward to what you find out about that, given who is apparently behind it.

Posted by: barb | May 20, 2007 5:50:49 PM

It's funny that here in Wa. State that 100's of people signed up to vote by mail out of one address in King County. A downtown Seattle address. The Gov. race was fixed from the beginning and they kept finding votes after the election was done. The democraps keep recounting until the found enough votes. Then they stop the recounting once they put enough bad votes into the count. That is why the firing of these Federal Attorneys. They also did not want to count the Military votes for a lame reason also. Why? The democraps wanted power at any cost.

Posted by: BIGRED1 | May 21, 2007 7:10:12 AM

Bigred: You say many things without any documentation or proof at all. Are we supposed to take your word on this? That is asking a lot when so many Republicans have lied so much.

There have been many studies done on "voter fraud" and none have found any significant numbers. What we do have is people like you spreading myths and outright lies.

Posted by: Old Dem | May 21, 2007 10:01:36 AM

Here's what the judge decided in that Washinton governor's race:

The Republicans argued that large numbers of votes were illegally cast by felons or cast in the names of dead people; that there were errors in the counting of ballots; and that there was stuffing of the ballot box and destruction of ballots. They concentrated their attacks on Seattle's heavily Democratic King County, the state's most populous.

While Republicans characterized the election problems as "sinister," Democrats described them as innocent mistakes that happen in every county, in every election. They said the GOP lacked the clear and convincing proof needed to justify overturning the election.

In his ruling, Bridges said the GOP failed to make the case for any deliberate, widespread fraud. He rejected the GOP's argument that an analytical technique called "proportional deduction" showed that most of the illegal votes cast in the election went to Gregoire. He also held that even using Republicans' proposed analytical technique, Gregoire still won.

The judge found that the Republicans failed to prove that Gregoire received one illegal vote among those improperly cast. In fact, he said, the only "clear and convincing" evidence he saw was the statements of four felons who said they voted for Rossi and one who said he cast a ballot for a Libertarian candidate.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-06-06-washington-governor_x.htm

Posted by: barb | May 21, 2007 10:11:12 AM

Barb: You rock!

Posted by: Jim Scarantino | May 21, 2007 6:20:18 PM