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Monday, September 29, 2008

NM-01: White (and Others) Named in DOJ Report on Improper Firing of U.S. Attorneys

A hefty 300+ page U.S. Department of Justice report (pdf) on the firing of U.S. Attorneys by the Bush administration was released today. It mentions a number of New Mexico Republicans including Pete Domenici, Heather Wilson and Darren White. U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey has named Connecticut Acting U.S. Attorney Nora R. Dannehy, a federal prosecutor for 17 years, to serve as special prosecutor in this case.

According to an article in the Washington Post:

The investigation uncovered "significant evidence" that partisan political factors played a role in some of the 2006 dismissals. Particularly "troubling," according to the report, was the sacking of New Mexico U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias after several Republican elected officials complained about voter fraud and public corruption cases he pursued. That episode raises the possibility that obstruction of justice and wire fraud laws were violated.

... Reached by phone, Iglesias said he was cheered by the findings and said he looked forward to the results of the investigation as it proceeds.

Also check out this nugget, unearthed by TPM:

Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) told Karl Rove at a November 16, 2006 meeting: "Mr. Rove, for what it's worth, the U.S. Attorney in New Mexico is a waste of breath." Rove's response: "That decision has already been made. He's gone."

It's a big report to get through to document the involvement of members of the NM GOP, but the Martin Heinrich campaign has already issued a statement detailing the report's info about Darren White:

The Department of Justice (DOJ) released a scathing report today blasting Darren White and other Bush cronies for their role in the firing of non-partisan U.S. Attorneys based on partisan political pressure, and the DOJ has appointed a special prosecutor to determine if criminal charges will be brought against those involved.

Darren White, the 2004 Bush-Cheney Reelection Chair for Bernalillo County, is named multiple times in the today's DOJ report -- specifically in the improper firing of New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias. The report shows that while serving as George W. Bush's Campaign Chairman, Darren White was using the Sheriff's office to try to inappropriately influence a federal investigation.

"Darren White is knee deep in one of the largest scandals in the history of the DOJ and he needs to come clean immediately to the voters of Central New Mexico about his role in the potentially illegal firing of U.S. Attorneys," said Martin Heinrich. "Central New Mexican voters deserve to know the truth before Darren White testifies under penalty of perjury for the newly appointed special prosecutor. How many times did Darren White speak with Heather Wilson, Pete Dominici or Karl Rove about firing David Iglesias? How did he use his official position to pursue political witch-hunts? This scandal clearly demonstrates Darren White is anything but an 'independent voice' for New Mexico, and the voters of Central New Mexico will see him for the partisan hack that he is."

BACKGROUND

White earlier admitted he had complained to both Attorney General Gonzales' Chief of Staff at the Department of Justice and Senator Pete Domenici about Iglesias, who subsequently said that White was part of "a political chorus that got to Pete Domenici." [Albuquerque Journal, 4/15/07, 4/19/07]

Today, the Department of Justice released a report on its investigation into the removal of nine U.S. attorneys. The report mentions White several times by name, including but not limited to two instances that follow. [An Investigation into the Removal of Nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006, Department of Justice, September 2008]

o "Among those who urged Iglesias to investigate and prosecute voter fraud cases in New Mexico were Allen Weh, the Chairman of the state Republican Party; Patrick Rogers, a former general counsel to the state Republican Party who continued to represent the party on voter fraud and ballot access issues; Mickey Barnett, an attorney and former Republican state senator active in party politics; Steve Bell, Chief of Staff to Senator Pete Domenici; and Darren White, the elected Republican Sheriff of Bernalillo County and Chairman of the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign in New Mexico. Iglesias said he knew all of these individuals and considered many of them to be his friends."

o "Sheriff White told us that he thought the [U.S. Attorney's Office] should have investigated and prosecuted cases without involving state agencies, and that Iglesias's concern about appearing nonpartisan was misguided."

Today, Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed a special prosecutor to investigate whether criminal charges should be brought against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others in connection with the firings of the nine U.S. attorneys. [New York Times, 9/30/08]
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More will be revealed. These developments could entirely change the political playing field here, and maybe even result in serious charges being brought against one or more New Mexicans. However, the investigation is expected to carry over into the next administration so it's anyone's guess how events will affect the election here as they unfold. One thing we do know: things are not looking good for Republicans, either nationally or in New Mexico. Imagine what we'll find out as more and more shields are peeled away from the actions taken by the Bush administration over the past 8 years.

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September 29, 2008 at 06:43 PM in Crime, Election Reform & Voting, Government, Justice, Local Politics, NM-01 Congressional Race 2008, U.S. Attorney Iglesias | Permalink

Comments

SURPRISE! SURPRISE! Domenici, Wilson and Sheriff White, sleazy Republicans, nope, surprising, not hardly. What would be a surprise is to find a Republican Politician that isn't. Sleazy, defined as MORALLY DEGRADED.

Posted by: VP | Sep 30, 2008 7:49:22 AM

The NM Republicans were all in on it and they try to act so innocent. Their culture of corruption is deep and wide.

Posted by: I Vote | Sep 30, 2008 1:00:53 PM

US Atty Nora D. might be clean, but she is coming from one of the dirtiest states in the union for public corruption.

Most have to make some sort of deal or buy their way in for any worthwhile position in Connecticut.

I wonder what was Dannehy's cost of admission. I think some real digging is required for why she was picked. Was a desired outcome predetermined?

Posted by: Steven G. Erickson | Oct 1, 2008 6:47:30 PM