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Text Transcript, Video of Senate Hearings Reveal Federal Judge Less Than Concerned About Disenfranchising Poll Restriction Laws as Approved by John 'Minories Die First' Tanner on Behalf of DoJ Civil Rights Division...
ALSO: How Would California Voters Who Lost Possessions in This Week's Fires Vote Next Month if Such Laws Existed in the State?
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2007 1:16pm PT  

"These remarks display a shameful lack of understanding and sensitivity that is unacceptable in the person charged with enforcing the nation’s laws against voting discrimination," Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) wrote in a question sent to Attorney General Nominee Michael Mukasey today concerning bizarre and objectionable comments made earlier this month by the DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief, John Tanner.

Tanner, whose recent remarks at the National Latino Congresso in Los Angeles, as video-taped and first reported by The BRAD BLOG earlier this month, have sparked outrage, leading to calls for his firing last week by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), this past Wednesday by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Civil Rights groups have also called for Tanner to be canned in the wake of his remarks claiming that Photo ID restrictions at the polling do effect the elderly, and that that's a "shame." But, minorities needn't worry because "they don't become elderly. They die first."

"The Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division has failed miserably in its responsibility to enforce the Voting Rights Act during this Administration," Kennedy said in a statement quoted by TPM Muckraker. "The latest shameful revelations from the Section drive home the urgent need for the next Attorney General to install strong leadership to allow the Voting Section to return to its historic role in ensuring access to the ballot."

Kennedy's question to Mukasey, which TPM Muck has in full, ends with "If you are confirmed, will you review Mr. Tanner’s record and consider whether he should be replaced as head of the Voting Section?"

But for those paying very close attention to Mukasey's confirmation hearings last week, his position on the controversial Photo ID issue --- a concern since some 10 to 30 million legally registered voters, largely Democratic-leaning minorities and elderly, are believed not to have such IDs and would therefore be kept from voting --- was troubling.

We had to review the testimony several times, as given in answer to questions by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), to figure out where he fell on this issue. But a close reading reveals that, while Mukasey offered clear responses objecting to voter suppression issues such as misinformation concerning polling place location, he was far dodgier on the question of polling place Photo ID restrictions.

Close review of the transcript --- posted along with the video in full below --- reveals that Mukasey feels that overt disenfranchisement efforts via dirty tricks, such as misleading and/or threatening fliers and phone calls, definitely amounts to "flat-out fraud and pernicious fraud."

His feelings about disenfranchising Photo ID requirements, however, are far different...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Says Recent Comments and Other Actions by John 'Minorities Die First' Tanner Demonstrate He and Others Have 'Perverted the Justice Department'
PLUS: New Allegations of Financial Improprieties by a Subordinate, 'Could Not Have Occurred Without Tanner's Approval,' Charges a BRAD BLOG DoJ Source...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2007 2:27pm PT  

The chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), says that the DoJ's Voting Section chief, John Tanner, should be fired in light of recent controversial comments made at a panel discussion at the National Latino Congresso in Los Angeles as first video taped and reported by The BRAD BLOG.

Nadler is now the second elected official to publicly call for the removal of Tanner from his post. Senator Barack Obama, and civil rights groups such as Advancement Project, have recently made the same demand.

"He should certainly be fired, obviously," Nadler told Democracy Now's Amy Goodman this morning when asked about Tanner's comments admitting that while it was a "shame" that elderly voters would be disenfranchised by restrictive Photo ID laws he'd approved on behalf of the DoJ, minorities actually benefit from such laws because "they don't become elderly. They die first."

Nadler went on to explain the reasons why he feels that Tanner and a "few others" have "perverted the Justice Department."

The video and complete text transcript of the interview with Nadler's comments in regard to Tanner are posted at the end of this article.

As well, new allegations of financial improprieties by one of Tanner's immediate subordinates have surfaced this morning in the Washington Post. Questionable travel by the Voting Section's acting deputy director is now being investigated by the DoJ's Office of Professional Responsibility.

The travel in question, a DoJ source tells The BRAD BLOG this morning, "could not have occurred without Tanner's approval."

"Obviously, someone who has such prejudices has no business heading the Voting Rights section or any other branch of the government and certainly not being on the Federal Voting Commission, which is supposed to enforce our election laws and our voting rights laws," Nadler continued in the interview today...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Email Sent to Supporters Describes Civil Rights Voting Chief's Comments as 'Pretty Unbelievable,' 'Last Straw'
Says: 'John Tanner has an obvious disregard for the voting rights of minorities and should not be in charge of protecting them'
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2007 2:09pm PT  

"This is pretty unbelievable," begins the email send from the campaign manager of Presidential Candidate Barack Obama to supporters today.

The email, from David Pouffe, calls on members of the public to demand the DoJ fire its Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief, John Tanner, in the wake of disturbing and inaccurate comments, video-taped and first reported by The BRAD BLOG, as made during a recent panel discussion at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles.

The email, which exhorts readers to send emails to DoJ via their new "John Tanner Must Go" campaign at http://Action.BarackObama.com/TannerMustGo continues thusly [emphasis in original]:

John Tanner, the top ranking voting rights official at the Justice Department, was caught on video claiming that photo ID requirements do not disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters because: "Our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do; they die first."

He went on to argue, irrationally, that these requirements actually benefit minorities because: "Anything that disproportionately impacts the elderly has the opposite impact on minorities."

The letter to supporters from Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, is posted in full here.

Last week, Obama had sent a letter to Acting Attorney General Peter D. Keisler, demanding he immediately fire Tanner. Our coverage, along with his full letter, is here.

"The situation is clear," Plouffe writes in today's email after detailing a number of concerns about Tanner's record at the DoJ. "John Tanner has an obvious disregard for the voting rights of minorities and should not be in charge of protecting them."

Plouffe concludes by charging that "His recent comments are the last straw --- he must go."

Hearings have been tentatively confirmed by The BRAD BLOG as scheduled in the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties for October 30th at 10:00am ET. Tanner will be called as a witness and likely presented with clips from the video tape that we delivered yesterday in D.C. to committee staffers.

The chairman of the sub-committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), has said he's hopeful that Tanner "will be as willing to provide lawmakers with the same candid views he has been providing at various public venues."

The chairman of the full House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), a 78-year old elderly minority member who, contrary to Tanner's assertions has not, in fact "die[d] first," has expressed consternation recently and over the years about the DoJ's chief voting official, including a 2005 letter in which he said he was "flabbergasted" at Tanner's contention that the reason for long voting lines in minority areas in Ohio's 2004 Presidential election was due to African Americans coming to the polls later in the day than non-minority voters.

The twisted conclusions from Tanner's "investigation" of voting problems reported during the 2004 Presidential election, including his assertion that minority voters actually had more access than whites to voting machines, were detailed in a letter, posted here in 2005, which can only be described as an extraordinary (and literal) "white washing" of the facts on the ground that day.

Conyers and his staff published a comprehensive report, entitled "Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio," as based on their own, far-reaching investigation after the election. We look forward to his questioning of Tanner next week.

Yesterday, we detailed additional allegations likely to be faced by Tanner in hearings next week.

A quick, video-taped snapshot of Tanner's most offensive --- and inaccurate, according to his former DoJ colleagues --- comments from the October 5th National Latino Congresso panel in Los Angeles, follows below...

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'Minorities Die First' Comments by DoJ's Voting Chief, John Tanner Continue to Reverberate in Advance of House Judiciary Hearings Next Week
National Journal Calls on the DoJ to Fire Tanner; Alternet Says His Recent Outreach to Latinos Suggests Still Further Politicization of the Civil Rights Division...
By Brad Friedman on 10/22/2007 6:19pm PT  


Heat and new, disturbing allegations continue to build in advance of next week's House Judiciary Committee hearings featuring the DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief, John Tanner, following on BRAD BLOG's exclusive report on his offensive comments at a recent event in Los Angeles. (A short video recap of his comments, courtesy of our friends at TPM, is at left.)

The video-taped comments prompted a letter from Barak Obama to the Acting Attorney General, calling for Tanner's immediate dismissal.

While that letter was covered far and wide, late last week, two different articles today, one at National Journal and one at AlterNet follow up on the matter, and offer additional concerns and allegations that are likely to come up during next week's hearing, tentatively scheduled for Oct 30th.

(NOTE: Our own Alan Breslauer, who taped Tanner's comments originally, hand-delivered a copy of the video to the House Judiciary Committee today, as he happened to be in DC on other business.)

Tanner told audience members during an October 5th panel in Los Angeles at the National Latino Congresso, that it was a "shame" that some elderly voters would, in fact, be disenfranchised by restrictive polling place Photo ID laws that he approved on behalf of the DoJ, but that minorities needn't worry because they "don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

National Journal's Eliza Carney notes, in her column today, that should AG-nominee Michael Mukasey be confirmed, "His first step should be to replace John Tanner with someone less patently biased and ill-informed."

While AlterNet's Steve Rosenfeld points out that it appears the Civil Rights Voting Section, under Tanner, has become politicized in its outreach to Latinos and Asian-Americans, in order to curry GOP votes, while completely ignoring (or even exasperating) polling place access issues for African and Native Americans...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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From DREs to the ACVR to the DOJ, The Republican Alphabet Soup Blueprint for Disenfranchisement and Miscounting in Next Year's Election Has Been a Well-Crafted and Well-Funded Work, Long in the Planning...
By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman on 10/21/2007 5:04pm PT  

Special to The BRAD BLOG by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman of The Columbus Free Press

ED NOTE: The following feature was originally published in the Autumn '07 print version of the Columbus Free Press. The comprehensive aerial overview --- connecting dots from 2000 to 2004 to the outlook for 2008, as based on a wide body of years-long investigative reportage and exposés as collected from a variety of sources, including The BRAD BLOG and many others --- offers such a useful round-up of "our story until now" that we thought running the piece in its entirety here would be a very good idea. We hope you agree.

With record low approval ratings for the Bush/Cheney regime and the albatross of an unpopular war hanging from the GOP's neck, do you think that a Democratic presidential candidate will win the White House, get us out of Iraq, and end our long national nightmare?

Think again – the mighty election theft machine Karl Rove used to steal the US presidency in 2000 and 2004 may be under attack, but it is still in place for the upcoming 2008 election.

With his usual devious mastery, Rove has seized upon the national outrage sparked by his electoral larceny and used it as smokescreen while he makes the American electoral system even MORE unfair, and even EASIER to rig. Thus the administration has fired federal attorneys when they would not participate in a nationwide campaign to deny minorities and the poor their access to the polls. It has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to install electronic voting machines that can be "flipped" with a few keystrokes. And under the guise of "reforming" our busted electoral system, it is setting us up for another presidential theft in 2008.

Thus it should come as no surprise that our exclusive investigations into the firings of eight federal prosecutors who refused to execute Rove’s plans for massive disenfranchisement of Democratic voters reveal a pattern of illegalities and fraud aimed at reducing the number of minority, poor and young voters at the core of Democratic support. In the wake of major news breaks, two felony convictions have come from the rigging of the illegal Ohio 2004 vote count and recount that gave George W. Bush a second illegitimate term. Stunning new admissions from county election boards that illegally destroyed voter records will almost certainly lead to new convictions. And the multi-million-dollar electronic voting machine scam that made possible the biggest electoral frauds in US history is under massive new attack, with key states moving to scrap the machines altogether in a desperate attempt to restore American democracy – but with the job far from done.

Rove, Ney and the Undead

Indeed, the Rovian theft engine is far from dead. The media groundwork has already been laid out for the Republicans to claim that hordes of illegal aliens have registered to vote. The Bush administration has been caught ordering public agencies – possibly in violation of the law – to cease registering voters. In an April, 2006 speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association, Rove openly alluded to the strategy of demanding photo ID and purging voter roles of poor, minority voters just as had been done in 2000 and 2004. And, as always with Bush/Rove, there is much more beneath the surface.

All that has happened to challenge the GOP death grip on the American vote count has been reported in the pages of Hustler and on the internet at FreePress.org, The BRAD BLOG and elsewhere, and is being seized upon by a national grassroots movement determined to restore American democracy next year.

Nowhere has that movement been more in evidence than with the high profile firestorm surrounding Bush administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ firing of eight federal prosecutors without legitimate cause.

Evidence continues to surface from throughout the United States about this blatant Bush abuse of executive power. But we have traced the roots of the firings to an obscure Congressional hearing held at the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, on March 21, 2005, and to a shadowy GOP operative named Mark F. "Thor" Hearne.

The hearing was conducted by none other than former US Rep. Bob Ney (R-18th OH). The once-powerful Ohio Congressman (who is now behind bars) was the godfather of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the national boondoggle that mandated electronic voting machines for the American electoral process.

That the machines would cost taxpayers billions was a big plus for Ney. They would come from Diebold and other companies that poured money into Republican coffers. Thanks largely to the manipulations of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, these e-voting machine companies would help guarantee the GOP’s ability to steal elections.

Ney’s hearing featured a marquee appearance by J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Secretary of State responsible for delivering Ohio’s decisive 2004 electoral votes to Bush. Blackwell was a key operative for the Bush election campaign in Florida in 2000 and co-chaired the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign in Ohio...

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If Mukasey can't call a spade a spade, we shouldn't call him Attorney General...
By Arlen Parsa on 10/20/2007 6:40pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Arlen Parsa

At his confirmation hearings this past week, Bush's Attorney General nominee Mike Mukasey was asked by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) if he considered waterboarding a form of torture. Here's an exchange the two had:

MUKASEY: If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.
...
SEN. WHITEHOUSE: If it’s torture. That’s a massive hedge. I mean, it either is or it isn’t. Do you have an opinion on whether waterboarding…is constitutional?

MUKASEY: If it amounts to torture, it is not constitutional.

SEN. WHITEHOUSE: I’m very disappointed in that answer. I think it is purely semantic.

MUKASEY: I’m sorry.

Mukasey's refusal to categorize waterboarding as torture is troubling to say the least...

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As Insiders Express Hope that the Voting Section Chief's Days Are Numbered
'That's All Anybody's Talking About' in the Civil Rights Division, The BRAD BLOG Has Been Told...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2007 4:13pm PT  

In addition to the earlier AP-reported "grossly misconstrued" response by a DoJ spokesman to John Tanner's "minorities die first" remarks, Paul Kane at Washington Post files yet another defense of the embattled Tanner from yet another DoJ spokesman. Kale posts the entire "full-throated defense" from Brian Roehrkasse on his Capitol Briefing blog.

Even as a DoJ insider source of ours writes to say "thanks for starting the ball rolling on what may be the end of John Tanner."

"That's all anybody's talking about" today, the source tells us.

Despite suggestions to the contrary, as made this week by Bush's AG-nominee Michael Mukasey during his AG Senate confirmation hearings, things are not quite as peachy keen inside the Civil Rights Division as the Bushies would love you to believe.

"It is a constant uphill struggle against hand-picked Bush administration appointees like John Tanner," the insider wrote, "That is why we are so often demoralized: they won't let us do our work."

You wouldn't know it, of course, if you listened only to the Bush administration's hand-picked spokesmen/deniers.

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Wire Service Reports on Obama Letter, Fails to Cite BRAD BLOG for Breaking Story, Misses Much of the Point in General...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2007 1:46pm PT  

AP is notorious for refusing to give appropriate credit to blogs that break stories. They've done so again in their coverage today of Barack Obama's letter calling for the firing of DoJ Voting Rights section chief John Tanner in the wake of our video coverage of his recent objectionable comments [emphasis ours]:

"That's a shame, you know, creating problems for elderly persons just is not good under any circumstance," Tanner said, according to video posted on YouTube. "Of course, that also ties into the racial aspect because our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

Setting aside the de rigueur BRAD BLOG slight, AP received a response to Obama's call for Tanner's head from DoJ spokesman Erik Ablin:

"Mr. Tanner is an attorney who works to protect civil rights on a daily basis," Ablin said, adding that the official had won numerous awards from African-American groups. "Nothing in his comments deviated from his firm commitment to enforce the law, and it is unfortunate that they have been so grossly misconstrued."

"Grossly misconstrued"? AP does not detail in what way Ablin believes the comments to have been "grossly misconstrued," but quotes him as saying the department "continues to have full confidence" in Tanner.

Former colleagues of Tanner's, however, don't seem to agree that the comments were misconstrued...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2007 12:46pm PT  

As we mentioned earlier this week, the embattled DoJ Civil Rights Division's Voting Rights section chief, John Tanner, was scheduled to speak to an audience at UC Berkeley's Latino Policy Forum yesterday.

According to a report this morning from The Daily Californian...

Tanner focused on the continuing relevance of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

He said he worked in the department when the act was passed and shared insight on “how bad it was for African Americans” at the time, adding that some minority populations continue to face obstacles when attempting to vote.

We've yet to speak to anybody who was actually at yesterday's event, so no word at this time on whether or not John Tanner clarified the point that one of the great obstacles minority populations face when attempting to vote is, in fact, John Tanner.

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Letter to Acting Attorney General Says John Tanner's Recent Remarks Are 'Patently Erroneous, Offensive, and Dangerous'
Comments, Video Taped and First Reported by BRAD BLOG, Have Been Given to Judiciary Committee, Continue to Reverberate...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2007 12:16pm PT  

After recently stepping up, along with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), to block the nomination to the FEC of insidious GOP "voter fraud" zealot Hans Von Spakovsky, Illinois' Democratic Senator and Presidential Candidate Barack Obama is calling for the head of the Voting Rights Section chief of the DoJ's Civil Rights Division.

In a letter sent today (posted in full at end of this article) to Acting Attorney General, Peter D. Keisler, Obama has requested that John Tanner be sent packing following objectionable comments he made two weeks ago in Los Angeles at the National Latino Congresso.

The remarks by Tanner, video-taped and first reported by The BRAD BLOG, were meant in support of his decision to allow a Photo ID restriction at polling places in Georgia, over the recommendation of four out of five of the career attorneys in the Civil Rights unit. The law would later be found unconstitutional by two federal judges, one of whom declared the practice to be a "Jim Crow-era poll tax".

Tanner told audience members during the panel on October 5th, that while it was a "shame" that the elderly would, in fact, be disenfranchised by the law he approved on behalf of the DoJ, minorities would have less to worry about because, as he told the stunned room, "Our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

Former colleagues of Tanner went on to characterize his comments as "false", "ludicrous" and "cherry-picked" from existing data.

In his letter today, Obama said, "Such comments are patently erroneous, offensive, and dangerous, and they are especially troubling coming from the federal official charged with protecting voting rights in this country."

As we reported several days ago, Tanner is scheduled to testify on this and related matters to a sub-commitee of the House Judiciary Committee on October 30th. The committee has asked The BRAD BLOG for a copy of the entire session with Tanner, as video-taped by our own Alan Breslauer. We have complied with their request.

In breaking the news of Obama's letter this morning, TPM Muckraker's Paul Kiel noted the irony that during his appearance before the Judiciary Committee, Tanner will "get to explain personally to its 78 year-old African-American chairman [John Conyers] that minorities don't 'become elderly.'"

"Through his inexcusable comments," Obama writes in today's letter, "Mr. Tanner has clearly demonstrated that he possesses neither the character nor the judgment to be heading the Voting Rights Section. For that reason, I respectfully request that you remove him from his position."

Since the 2004 election, Republican officials and operatives have been attempting to enact such Photo ID laws at polling places across the country, despite some 10 to 30 million, largely Democratic and minority voters, who do not have such ID's and would be disenfranchised by such laws. Millions of dollars have been spent to support the unevidenced idea of Democratic "voter fraud" by phony GOP front groups such as the "non-partisan" ACVR, created by Bush/Cheney '04's national general counsel Mark F. "Thor" Hearne and RNC Communications Director, Jim Dyke. Hearne is now laying low since shutting down the ACVR in the wake of calls for phony "voter fraud" prosecutions being found at the center of the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal. Dyke, who parlayed his "non-partisan" ACVR gig into work for Dick Cheney, is now Communications Director for the Rudy Giuliani campaign.

Continuing the false GOP meme of Democratic "voter fraud", The BRAD BLOG recently noted unsupported claims of undocumented immigrants being "rounded up, herded into the polls [and] voting illegally" in California as charged by Golden State Rep. Duncan Hunter during a recent Republican Presidential Debate. Both Hunter's campaign and Congressional offices subsequently failed to respond to BRAD BLOG requests to back up with the claim with details or evidence.

During it's current session, the Supreme Court of the United States is scheduled to review the constitutionality of a similar Photo ID law enacted in the state of Indiana.

UPDATE: AP picks up the story, quotes DoJ as saying Tanner's comments were "grossly misconstrued", fails to credit BRAD BLOG for breaking original story. Details here...

LATER UPDATE: WaPo again picks up the story, and again, as last time (and unlike AP) credits us appropriately. They also offer yet another DoJ spokesman's defense of Tanner, while an insider DoJ source gives us an indication of what's really going on over at DoJ in the wake of all of this. Details here...

The complete letter from Sen. Barack Obama to Acting Attorney General Peter D. Keisler follows below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Only One of Them Properly Credits Us...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2007 5:12pm PT  

We hadn't noticed it, but last week Paul Krugman over at the NY Times picked up on our original exclusive report on DoJ Voting Chief John Tanner's recent comments saying while it's a "shame" that the elderly are, in fact, disenfranchised by Photo ID restrictions at the polling place --- like the one that he approved on behalf of the Department's Civil Rights Division in Georgia --- he's less worried about minorities being disenfranchised because "minorities don't become elderly. The way that white people do. They die first."

Unfortunately, Krugman credited our friends at TPM Muckraker for the story, even though their story followed up on, and properly credited, ours. Krugman's comments were in his NYTimes blog and we hope he'll cover the important matter in his regular column as well. Though if he does, we'd appreciate it if, like Al Kamen's coverage at WaPo, he offered appropriate attribution where it's due.

Believe it or not, it matters, and not just for our own ego.

On the other hand, Amy Goodman at Democracy Now today also picked up on the story (see the short video above left) and gave The BRAD BLOG the appropriate credit. Her coverage also included some of the video that our own Alan Breslauer posted here originally.

Thanks Amy! And thanks Alan for posting Amy's video here. There now, was that so hard?

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Anybody Feel Like Covering the Talk, Video Taping it, and/or Asking a Few Tough Questions on Behalf of The BRAD BLOG?
ALSO: October 30th Named as Date for Tanner's Testimony to House Judiciary Subcommittee...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2007 5:35am PT  

U.S. House Judiciary Committee staff informs us that October 30th will be the day for hearings with John Tanner, the DoJ Civil Rights Division's Voting Section chief. Tanner has caused a bit of a stir of late by suggesting that minorities needn't worry about being disenfranchised at the polls by restrictive Photo ID laws because they "die first" before become elderly (the original twisted BRAD BLOG video exclusive of Tanner's comments here). As well, Tanner's previous bizarre and unprecedented justifications on behalf of the DoJ, for why minorities have only themselves to blame for not being able to vote in Ohio in the 2004 Presidential Election have once again attracted the attention of John Conyers and his staff.

Though the hearing where Tanner will testify is currently planned for the 30th, we're told it won't be "official" until it appears on the official schedule for the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties --- usually a week or so prior to the hearing.

In the meantime, however, democracy and accountability fans in the Northern California area may get their Tanner fix this Thursday, as he's schedule to appear for a talk at UC Berkley's Institute of Governmental Studies. The talk is scheduled for 3:30p-5:00p at the Institute's Library, 109 Moses Hall, as sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Latino Policy Research and the Election Administration Research Center (EARC). More details here.

Tanner's recent unbelievable comments to the National Latino Congresso --- "It's probably true that among those who don't [have Photo ID], it's primarily elderly persons. And that's a shame. Of course...our society is such that minorities don't become elderly. The way that white people do. They die first." --- made their way to both the Washington Post and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

So who knows what he'll say next?!

We hope a few BRAD BLOG readers who may be concerned with some of Tanner's statements and behavior at the DoJ might find their way to showing up at his UC Berkeley event this week to video tape and/or ask a few tough questions of the man who oversees voting rights on behalf of the federal government.

If so, we hope you'll share any notable comments (hopefully on video or audio) with us!

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Chairman of House Judiciary Committee is Troubled by Voting Chief John Tanner's 'Justification' for Inequal Treatment of Black Voters in Buckeye State
Plans to Address Matter 'Head On' in Upcoming Hearings...
By Brad Friedman on 10/12/2007 4:03pm PT  

Following up our earlier story today, the Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers (D-MI), has now released a statement in response to TPM Muckraker's story today with on-the-record comments from former DoJ officials questioning the seriousness (or lack thereof) of the "investigation" by the Department's chief Voting official, John Tanner, into the reported racial disparities at polling places during the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio.

In Conyers' statement (posted in full at the end of this article) he says he's "concerned about the extreme lengths Mr. Tanner went to in order to justify the reasons African-Americans were not treated equally in the 2004 Ohio election," and charges that "The Department of Justice – since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – has a responsibility to thoroughly investigate allegations of voter suppression and discrimination, like those made in Ohio in 2004."

Tanner's "investigation" at the time had, remarkably, charged that the reason for long lines in minority areas of Ohio was because minorities chose to vote late in the afternoon, instead of earlier in the day as white voters did.

Essentially, as RAW STORY's coverage this afternoon says, "black voters caused their own lines in the Ohio 2004 vote," if Tanner is to be believed.

But a report from TPM Muckraker earlier today quotes a former colleague of Tanner's, who accompanied him on his trip to Ohio during the "investigation," as saying, "did black precincts get neglected? I know we didn’t try very hard to find out."

Conyers originally responded to Tanner's investigation in 2005 with a letter of his own back in 2005, writing to then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that he was "flabbergasted that your office could reach such a casual conclusion without addressing the most serious charges of mis-allocation of votes in the County." He also expressed outrage that the DoJ chose to look into reports of election irregularities in only one Ohio county (Franklin).

Both Tanner's and Conyers' letters were posted and reported by The BRAD BLOG in 2005.

Today, the chairman says that in his 2005 landmark (though largely ignored, at the time) report entitled "Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio", he revealed "huge racial disparities in how voting machines were distributed in white and black precincts, among other findings." Yet Tanner had "found no discrepancies in the number of voting machines and attributed the long lines to the tendency of African-American voters to vote after work, as opposed to in the morning hours."

The BRAD BLOG has received indications from Conyers' office that he intends to question Tanner on these topics directly in an upcoming hearing. His statement today gives further indication of that.

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Hearings May Also Focus - Finally - on the Disenfranchisement That Occurred in Ohio During the 2004 Presidential Election Debacle, According to MUST READ TPM Muckraker Report...
Former DoJ Staffer on Disparity of Voting Machines in Minority Precincts: 'We Didn't Try Very Hard to Find Out'
By Brad Friedman on 10/12/2007 12:51pm PT  

Still more folks are beginning to notice our disturbing Monday exclusive, including both the Washington Post and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, which will be taking up the matter, we are told (and a report at TPM Muckraker confirms), in upcoming sub-committee hearings.

While many blogs had covered our report, the MSM had yet to ring in until today's report from Al Kamen at Washington Post who picks up on our coverage of the recent controversial video-taped comments by John Tanner, the Chief of the Voting Rights section of the DoJ's Civil Rights division.

Tanner said last Friday in Los Angeles at the National Latino Congresso --- and our own Alan Breslauer was there with video camera and tough questions --- that while it's a "shame" that the elderly may be disenfranchised by restrictive Photo ID laws at the polling place, minorities needn't worry, as they are less disenfranchised, if only because "minorities don't become elderly. The way that white people do. They die first."

The argument Tanner was making implied that, somehow, it's white voters who are more disenfranchised by such restrictions, rather than black voters. And, despite actual evidence to the contrary, somehow, that's all okay with him in any case, even as the GOP pushes for more such laws all across the country, with a presidential election year upon us, little if any evidence of actual voter fraud that would be deterred by such laws, and some 10 to 30 million legally registered American voters (most, coincidentally, Democratic-leaning) who might well be disenfranchised in the bargain.

That from, yes, the Bush DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief.

Unlike so many other MSM outlets who have picked up on our stories before, WaPo's Kamen properly attributes The BRAD BLOG, twice, concluding his column today with: "Please, take a moment --- you owe it to yourself as a citizen --- to watch Tanner's illuminating analysis on this issue at http://www.bradblog.com/?p=5145."

Thank you, Al.

But Paul Kiel has still more goodies on all of this, including confirmation that the DoJ has now agreed to allow Tanner to testify at an upcoming House Judiciary Committee hearing, despite having rebuffed such an invitation previously. Moreover, The BRAD BLOG can confirm that, in fact, the committee has requested a copy of the video of Tanner's comments for possible use during the hearing to be held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.

More than that still, Kiel reports in a MUST READ today, on what may finally be a bit of long overdue encouraging news for Election Integrity advocates in Ohio, in relation to their continuing efforts to see some sort of justice done and/or accountability brought for the 2004 Election debacle in their state...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Statement Suggesting Whites More Disenfranchised Than Minorities Because Minorities 'Die First' Before Becoming Elderly, Disputed by John Tanner's Predecessor, Former Colleagues
An 'Imus Moment' Declares a BRAD BLOG DoJ Source...
By Brad Friedman on 10/9/2007 1:09pm PT  

Paul Kiel at TPM Muckracker has picked up on, and advanced, our Exclusive report yesterday concerning the remarkable comments made last Friday by John Tanner, the Chief of the Civil Rights Division, Voting Unit, at the DoJ, concerning Photo ID restrictions at the polls.

In a follow-up report today, Kiel gets reactions from former DoJ officials, including the man who previously held the same job as Tanner at the DoJ, charging that the remarks and logic behind them were "frankly ludicrous" and "false" and based on "cherry-picking the data that he wants to use."

A DoJ source of our own wrote to us after yesterday's report and characterized the comments as Tanner's "Imus moment."

Tanner had told a group in Los Angeles last Friday --- and our own Alan Breslauer was there to catch it on video tape --- that non-minorities were more likely to be disenfranchised by such restrictive polling laws laws than African-Americans.

"It's probably true that among those who don't [have Photo ID], it's primarily elderly persons. And that's a shame," Tanner told the audience. He then added: "Of course...our society is such that minorities don't become elderly. The way that white people do. They die first." The implication being that, therefore, minorities are somehow less likely to be disenfranchised by draconian Photo ID laws at the polling place.

Tanner had approved a disenfranchising Georgia Photo ID scheme on behalf of the DoJ in 2005, despite the fact that 4 out of the 5 career civil rights unit staffers who had reviewed the law recommended against pre-approval under the Voting Rights Act. The law, once approved by Tanner, was later found unconstitutional by two federal courts, and described by one of the judges to be little more than a "Jim Crow-era poll tax."

ePluribus Media has much more on Tanner's resume and discriminatory reign as voting section chief in the Civil Rights Division.

Restrictive Photo ID laws, being strongly and strategically pushed by elements of the GOP around the nation, are controversial since anywhere from 10 to 30 million Americans, largely Democratic-leaning voters who are elderly, minorities, and/or urban dwellers, are believed to have no driver's licenses. Most states already have requirements for some form of ID when voting, though not necessarily state-issued Photo ID.

Further, the federal Help America Vote of Act of 2002 already requires proof of identity when a voter registers to vote. In the meantime, by even the DoJ's own numbers, voter fraud at the polls is exceedingly rare in America. That, despite GOP kool-aid drinkers like Rep. Duncan Hunter and his recent unfounded claims to the contrary.

According to Kiel at TPM Muck today, both Tanner's predecessor Joe Rich and the man who analyzed the numbers for Tanner at the DoJ in the Georgia case, Toby Moore, strongly dispute Tanner's comments, characterizing them as "not only wrong, but way off, and typical of the type of decision making" in the current DoJ's Voting Rights section...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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