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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, July 23, 2014
'Green News Report' 7/22/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record wildfires burn the Pacific Northwest; June 2014 was hottest globally on record; EPA blocks Pebble Mine; CA blocks water pollution; PLUS: To cut emmissions, cut the beef...
Previous GNRs: 7/17/14 - 7/15/14 - Archives...
Aborted Statewide 'Recount' Reveals It's a Great Time to Steal an Election in California
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HBO's fake news show Last Week Tonight offered smarter (and certainly funnier) coverage than you're likely to see anywhere else...
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Another Zombie Myth that just won't die gets knocked down again...for now...even as its persistence continues to fuel false Republican claims of 'voter fraud' even today...
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'Green News Report' 7/17/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Australia's RW govt repeals landmark carbon tax; Obama takes action on global warming impacts; Record wildfire season in West; PLUS: California gets tough on water wasters...
Previous GNRs: 7/15/14 - 7/10/14 - Archives...
Koch Brothers' Radical Libertarianism Broke Kansas
More than 100 top GOPers endorse Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's Democratic opponent after tax cuts for the wealthy have busted the extremist Koch Brothers' home state...
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George W. Bush appointee rules state system violates Constitution's ban of 'cruel and unusual punishments'...
'Green News Report' 7/15/14
Divesting from fossil fuels; Germany gives $1b to climate fund; Australia carbon tax repeal; All-electric Formula E racing revs up; PLUS: Climate denier Murdoch...
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GOP Voter Fraud Queen Ann Coulter Urges MS Senate Candidate McDaniel to NOT Pursue Fraud Concerns
Given her well-documented personal history, perhaps she shoulda stayed out of this one?...
'Green News Report' 7/10/14
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Challenging 'The Nation's Most Restrictive Voter Suppression Law': KPFK 'BradCast'
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'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
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'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
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ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Investigation Into Bush Administration's Use Of The DoJ To Expand Its Own Power
Piece Includes Snippet Of BRAD BLOG's Infamous John Tanner Video...Without Attribution!
By Alan Breslauer on 12/11/2007 12:41pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

The first part of "Bush League Justice", a special four-day investigation by MSNBC's Dan Abrams into the Bush administration's politicization of the Justice Department, which Brad previewed yesterday, began with a look into the "department's almost unrecognizable Civil Rights Division" (at left, 8:27).

According to Abrams, the Bush administration "has turned the Division against the very people it was designed to protect. Instead of pursuing discrimination cases on behalf of African Americans, the Bush Civil Rights Division has focused on supposed reverse discrimination cases against whites and religious discrimination cases against Christians." Abrams points out that between 2001 and 2006, "not one voting discrimination case was brought on behalf of African Americans."

The segment continues with Abrams questioning former DoJ attorneys David Becker and Alia Malek about the Bush administration "stack[ing] the deck against Democrats." In one example given by Becker, congressional redistricting plans thought to favor Democrats would get "very, very, serious scrutiny" while redistrictings that favored Republicans would receive a "very hands off approach" even if, as was the case in Texas, the plan was unanimously found to discriminate against Hispanics by career Justice Department officials.

In addition to stacking the deck against Democrats, Abrams states that the Justice Department has been "hijacked" by the far right. After evidencing this claim with a couple of telling statistics, a somewhat exasperated Abrams continues, "They fundamentally changed what the Civil Rights Division does. It's no longer there to protect African Americans. It is to go after reverse discrimination cases and also to try and promote religion in schools and other public places."

Part 1 continues (at the 6:15 mark) with Abrams playing the "pretty amazing statement" by John Tanner, the current chief of the DoJ's Voting Rights Section, about minorities not being disenfranchised by Photo ID laws because they "don't become elderly the way white people do, they die first." Unfortunately Abrams, like many in the mainstream media, failed to credit The BRAD BLOG for our original video and reporting of the incident.

Despite the slight we look forward to more excellent reporting on this long overdue topic throughout the week.

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Not-Yet-Fired Head of Civil Rights Division's Voting Section Under Official Investigation for Reportedly Flying High - Along With His Deputy - on Tax Payer Dime...
By Brad Friedman on 11/28/2007 6:07pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from somewhere near the Kansas/Colorado border...

Not only is John Tanner confused about whose right to vote he's supposed to be protecting (everybody's, even elderly minorities') as head of the DoJ Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, he's also apparently under the impression that the U.S. Government is his personal sponsor for high-flying trips to vacation hotspots like Hawaii and elsewhere for himself and his deputy, Susana Lorenzo-Giguere.

Paul Kiel has a complete, detailed, and highly-recommended investigative report over at TPM Muck, as Tanner could even be facing felony charges, should several current DoJ Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) investigations into his activities pan out. Kiel's report begins this way...

When John Tanner, chief of the Civil Rights Division's voting section, appeared before a Congressional panel last month, he was upbraided by Democrats for his "ineffectiveness." Little did they know that as the section, probably the most politicized in the Justice Department under the Bush Administration, has done less and less to protect African-American voters from discrimination, Tanner has been seeing the country on the taxpayers' dime.

He even managed to make taxpayer-funded trips to Hawaii in three consecutive years, two of them a week long. One Department lawyer who accompanied Tanner on his first trip took the earliest available flight back after having completed all necessary work in just two business days. But Tanner insisted on staying a full week, despite the lack of apparent Department business. It's a crime for government officials to use public funds for personal travel.

A review of Justice Department documents obtained by TPMmuckraker shows just how extensive Tanner's travel has been. From May of 2005 when Tanner became chief of the section through the end of 2006, he took 36 trips, traveling 97 days over those 19 months. By comparison, Tanner's predecessor Joe Rich took only two trips from 2003 through his retirement in April 2005, a total of six days of taxpayer funded travel over those 28 month


The BRAD BLOG helped kick off a firestorm surrounding the DoJ's voting rights chief Tanner last September when we video-taped and reported on his astounding statement that "minorities don't become elderly, the way white people do. They die first."

Those comments, "highlights" of which are at right, helped lead to calls for his firing and Congressional hearings for the not-yet-fired-or-resigned Tanner.

Former prosecutor Melanie Sloan, of ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), says, in response to the litany of latest allegations, that if new AG Michael Mukasey was "serious about cleaning up the Department, he'd just get rid of Tanner."

We'll see if he does. Please leave your guesses in comments about the exact date on which Tanner will either be fired or suddenly discover that he needs to spend more time with his family. We'll announce the name of whoever is closest when (and if) it actually happens.

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Paper Also Calls On Congress To Reject FEC Nominee Hans Von Spakovsky
Editorializes That DoJ Voting Rights Section Is Run By Ideologues Most Concerned With Disenfranchising Minorities...
By Alan Breslauer on 11/6/2007 12:51pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

The NY Times calls for the firing of John Tanner, the chief of the Justice Department's Civil Rights voting section, because of the “offensive” and “bigoted” comments originally captured and reported by The BRAD BLOG:

A House Judiciary subcommittee was the site of a sad spectacle the other day: John Tanner, who heads the Justice Department’s voting section, trying to explain offensive, bigoted comments he made about minority voters. It was a shameful moment that crystallized the need for immediate steps to fight for the rights that Mr. Tanner has been working so hard to undermine.

The administration should, of course, fire Mr. Tanner. Congress should pass a bill to criminalize deceptive campaign practices. And it should reject a pending nominee to the Federal Election Commission, Hans von Spakovsky.

The Justice Department has a long history of protecting the voting rights of minorities. In the Bush administration, the department’s voting rights section has been taken over by ideologues most interested in denying the ballot to minorities, poor people and other groups likely to vote Democratic.
...
There have been calls for Mr. Tanner to be removed, and he should be, but that is not enough. The Senate must refuse to confirm Mr. von Spakovsky, an anti-voting-rights advocate cut from the same cloth as Mr. Tanner, to the F.E.C. Based on his record, Mr. von Spakovsky would use the job to undermine the right to vote.
...
This administration seems to believe that the right to vote is something only Democrats should care about. It is too important to be reduced to a partisan issue.

Also see The BRAD BLOG's extensive coverage on Hans von Spakovsky.

Tanner has come under a great deal of fire, since, our original report of his assertions that while it was "a shame" that elderly voters were likely disenfranchised by his approval --- on behalf of the DoJ, and against the advice of his staff --- of a Georgia Photo ID poll restriction, minorities were somehow better served by it. His objectionable, and now-discredited, argument: "Minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

Among those who have previously called for Tanner's firing in some fashion: Sen. Barack Obama, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Sen. Ted Kennedy, along with many other officials and organizations.

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(As Does The BRAD BLOG in the Bargain)
COLUMNIST: 'Extremism in Defense of Liberty Really Means Keeping the Republican Party in Power'
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2007 1:30pm PT  

Though ABC snubbed us previously by referring to the John "Minorities Die First" Tanner video as "widely circulated on YouTube," we made last night's Nightline broadcast, if only for our logo on the original video they used showing his objectionable (and inaccurate) remarks explaining his approval of a Georgia Photo ID law, on behalf of the DoJ Civil Rights Voting Section, which later was struck down as an unconstitutional, Jim Crow-era poll tax.

Jake Tapper's take on the story last night was to look at "How Public Figures Apologize --- or At Least Pretend To." A text version of his report is here. The text version doesn't credit anyone, which is fine by us. The story's not about us. But if your going to attribute someone for the original report, it's appreciated when it's done accurately.

The quick broadcast version, which ran last night on Nightline follows. FWIW. (Video courtesy of Alan Breslauer, who taped the original, and now-infamous Tanner comments made in Los Angeles several weeks ago)...




P.S. A reminder: If you haven't seen WaPo's wicked cool video coverage of Tanner's hearing, please take a few minutes to do so! It's right here and well worth the 5 minutes!

UPDATE: Additional fallout from the entire ugly brouhaha. Bill Cavala at California Progress Report writes, in reference to Tanner, "Only George Bush could put a man with such sensitivity into such a sensitive post!" before pointing out why all of this, including Tanner's approval of the Georgia Photo ID law against the advice of career staffers, actually matters to everybody...

A Federal Judge – one appointed by a Democratic President – later blocked implementation of the law, likening it to a Jim Crow era “poll tax”.

Now maybe this is expected in Georgia (My great grandfather served in Sherman’s Army).

But Republicans in California have attempted to pass similar unconstitutional legislation for years. They also pretend concern about “vote fraud”. But it should be clear that this was a national strategy by the G.O.P. Using “vote fraud” as the screen, pass discriminatory laws designed to decrease turnout among poor minority groups who would vote Democratic if they voted. [Ed Note: See BRAD BLOG's Special Coverage of the phony "non-partisan" GOP "voting rights" front group, ACVR, for info on the cretins tasked with implementing that "national strategy"]

And if the local U.S. Attorney didn’t do enough, a new one would be found who would.

Pretty despicable behavior. But it is the true expression of the phrase, “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice”. Where “liberty’ really means keeping the Republican Party in power.

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Gives Details to BRAD BLOG Alleging Testimony from Chief of DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section 'Not Believable,' Full of 'Evasion and Prevarication'
'He Lost No Time in Twisting the Truth,' Says 'Anonymous' Staffer in E-Mailed Rebuttal...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2007 3:01pm PT  

During yesterday morning's contentious hearings in the House Judiciary subcommittee, featuring DoJ Voting Chief, John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, a staffer in that division who we've come to know contacted The BRAD BLOG to say "Tanner is lying through his teeth."

We asked the staffer --- who has requested to remain "anonymous" for obvious reasons --- to elucidate with details, which are now posted in full below...

I welcome the opportunity to respond to John Tanner's testimony yesterday in front of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

We in the Voting Section were amazed to watch John Tanner's evasion and prevarication. He lost no time in twisting the truth. In his opening statement, he gives his usual litany about all the suits the [DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting] Section has filed. A huge percentage of them have been meaningless, the kinds of suits that never would have been filed under previous leadership. In the past, the Section Chief would pick up the phone, call the jurisdiction, and the jurisdiction would change its procedures. Only truly intransigent jurisdictions got sued. Now, the protocol is that even if we negotiate with the jurisdiction, we sue them, and many times, a previously negotiated consent decree is filed with the court the very same day the complaint is filed. The only possible justification for doing this is to pad the numbers of lawsuits we're filing.

Tanner says "The Section is so productive because of the energy, the enthusiasm, and the commitment of the Section staff." At this point, the only thing that the Section staff could conceivably be said to be energetic and enthusiastic about and committed to is the departure of John Tanner and his handpicked acting deputies, Susana Lorenzo-Giguere and Yvette Rivera. Tanner's ineptitude has done something most of the committed supporters of civil rights in the Section never thought possible: it's given us common cause with people across the aisle. We disagree with their ideology, but as one of them told me only today, Tanner has few supporters even over there. We are united in our belief in their inability to manage the Section. Aside from this, morale is at an ebb that even falls below that which existed when Hans von Spakovsky and Brad Schlozman ran roughshod over the Section.

The letter continues below...

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

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Dana Milbank Takes Down the DoJ's Voting Chief With His Own Testimony from Yesterday's House Judiciary Hearing
ADDITIONAL VIDEO SPANKINGS: Reps. Davis and Ellison's Q&As in Full...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2007 1:02pm PT  

Wow. Snap. Washington Post covered yesterday's House Judiciary subcommittee hearings in two separate articles today and via one hell of an online video to boot.

Dana Milbank covered on page 2, opening with "John Tanner is one sorry man." Dan Eggen covered the "political uproar" that we kicked off here at The BRAD BLOG several weeks ago, on page 4.

But it's Milbank's online "video sketch" that cuts to the bone, offering the best first-hand encapsulated coverage of the hearings we've seen to date (far better, even, than the PBS News Hour's version last night).

Consider the following montage a "Must See!" And one that almost makes one begin to feel sorry for John "Minorities Die First" Tanner...

...We said "almost." But not by much. A reply to Tanner's testimony yesterday --- from an insider still forced to work under him at the DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section --- to come shortly.

In the meantime, if you've yet to see the full smack-downs that Tanner received yesterday at the hands of Reps. Artur Davis (D-AL) and then Keith Ellison (D-MN), the videos of both of those brutal Q&As are posted in full below, and are similarly "Must Sees!"...

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DNC Disagrees! It Was Fox 'News' Who Dunnit According to Press Statement!
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2007 5:37pm PT  

Asociated Press and ABC both cover the Judiciary Hearings with John Tanner today, leading with his tepid apology: "I want to apologize for the comments I made at the recent meeting of the National Latino Congress about the impact of voter identification laws on elderly and minority voters … My explanation of the data came across in a hurtful way, which I deeply regret."

His data were fine (they weren't), just that his explanation was hurtful.

The head of the DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section's apologia comes in response to comments made on a video tape that, according to both AP and ABC, apparently created itself, reported itself, and then posted itself on YouTube.

We suppose their lack of attribution of the original source for both the video and reporting thereof (by your friendly neighborhood BRAD BLOG) of comments that led to several hours of hell-raising testimony and confrontation in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today is a step up from the DNC's version.

In the statement they released yesterday from Howard Dean and Donna Brazile, calling for Tanner to be fired, they attributed the comments to FoxNews.com. Very thoughtful.

Luckily, we are so well off here at The BRAD BLOG, so flush with overflowing resources, as based on the world-wide MSM recognition of the credibility of our work, we don't need the DNC to recognize us for having handed them Tanner's head on a silver platter via our elbow grease at our own expense.

Rupert Murdoch, on the other hand, can use all the help he can get. If we're able to raise enough for this month's rent on our latest premium offer, we'll be sure to send whatever is left over to him. Happy DNC?

(Can you tell I'm rolling on little more than 3 hours' sleep today? Okay, done with my whining for tonight. Maybe.)

UPDATE: The Hill reports "CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) members pummel Department of Justice official" and NPR covers as well. They credit no one for the original reporting. Which is preferred to crediting "a Youtube video."

Here's NPR's coverage, with audio of some of the best Tanner spankings today (appx 4 mins)...

UPDATE: 10/31/07: PBS News Hour covered last night as well. And includes an appropriate attribution. In case it's not clear, the attribution is not because we need ego strokes or pats on the back. It's so that bad guys, in the future, are less able to say "Oh, that explosive report exposing us came from a blog, and we all know that blogs aren't credible." When said blog has been credited as credible by folks such as AP, ABC, and yes, even the DNC, it makes it much more difficult for those bad guys to duck accountability using the "just an Internet blog" defense.

Here's the PBS News Hour's coverage (thanks to Alan Breslauer!) from last night:


...Though the video coverage we've seen, by far, comes today from the Washington Post. Check it out right here...

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'We have clearly reached the point where the status quo is unacceptable.'
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2007 1:36pm PT  

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, issues a statement in response to today's extremely contentious subcommittee hearing with star-witness John "Minorities Die First" Tanner. We live-blogged the hearings here (now updated with videos!)

Conyers had said, at one point during the hearing in response to Tanner's "all is well" testimony: "I hope that you will take what is directed at you as constructive, because the one thing I am concerned about is that we stop having happen what has happened since the 2000 elections. And then you come here to stagger our imagination by telling us that 'it's never been better,' its never been worse!"

His post-hearing statement, which follows in full below, concludes notably: "We have clearly reached the point where the status quo is unacceptable."...

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

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Faces Extremely Pointed Questions from Committee Members, Furious About Recent Comments Reported by The BRAD BLOG...
UPDATED NOW WITH VIDEO OF THE MOST CONTENTIOUS Q&A's...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2007 7:25am PT  

We're up before the West Coast dawn this morning to monitor the hearings in the U.S. House Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties featuring John "Minorities Die First" Tanner. His recent objectionable comments were originally video-taped and reported by The BRAD BLOG several weeks ago.

The most objectionable of those comments including his contention that it was a "shame" that elderly voters might be disenfranchised by a 2005 Georgia Photo ID poll restriction that he approved on behalf of DoJ and against the advice of four out of five of his career staffers, minorities would somehow benefit from it. His twisted reasoning was that "because our society is such that minorities don't become elderly. The way white people do. They die first."

Tanner, incredibly, is still the Chief of the Voting Section in the DoJ's Civil Rights Division.

It's being carried live and webcast on C-Span 3, as well as via the Judiciary Committee's own webcast.

Major points in our story so far...

Beyond that, Progress Report has an excellent round up of Tanner's "Erosion of Voter Rights" during his tenure.

The hearings have now ended, but our notes from our Live-Blogging of today's hearings are below, along with video clips of the key, and most pointed exchanges...

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

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Sorry for 'Hurtful Way Explanation of Data Came Across,' Does Not Recant Analysis That Minorities Somehow Benefit From Photo ID Restrictions at Polling Places Because They 'Die First' Before Becoming Elderly
Tanner to Meet Elderly Minority Congressman Conyers at Hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday Morning...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2007 6:01pm PT  

John Tanner, chief of the DoJ Civil Rights Division's Voting Unit, has not yet been fired. But he is sorry:

I want to apologize for the comments I made at the recent meeting of the National Latino Congreso about the impact of voter identification laws on elderly and minority voters. I understand that my explanation of the data came across in a hurtful way which I deeply regret. The reports of my comments do not in any way accurately reflect my career of devotion to enforcing federal laws designed to assure fair and equal access to the ballot. I am honored to have the opportunity to do this work, and I am honored to serve with the dedicated employees of the Voting Section who, day in and day out, work hard to protect the rights of all Americans under the Voting Rights Act.

The apology, sent last Friday, becomes public on the eve of his testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning (Tuesday) at 10am ET, and just after the DNC joined many others early today in demanding he be "immediately fired." Tanner's sorry note was sent to a few folks just after Senator Barack Obama called on the Acting Attorney General to fire him. Several others have followed suit since.

Paul Kiel, who notes that "Tanner does not recant his analysis that voter ID laws actually discriminate against whites, but does apologize that his 'explanation of the data came across in a hurtful way,' has the scoop on the apology. It was sent to some of the attendees at the National Latino Congreso earlier this month where The BRAD BLOG video-taped and reported his objectionable, and incorrect, comments on restrictive Photo ID laws he's approved at the DoJ.

He had claimed such laws were just fine by him since, though they may disenfranchise some elderly voters, "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

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Says John 'Minorities Die First' Tanner's Recent Remarks 'Underscore the GOP's Utter Disregard for the Integrity of our Nation's Election System'
Statement Issued in Advance of Tomorrow's U.S. House Judicary Hearings Featuring Testimony from Embattled DoJ Voting Rights Chief...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2007 12:46pm PT  

In advance of tomorrow morning's House Judiciary Committee hearing to feature testimony by DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, DNC Chair Howard Dean and Donna Brazile of the DNC Voting Rights Institute have issued a statement calling for Tanner to be "immediately fired."

"In their latest scheme, the Republican Administration has manipulated the mission of the Department of Justice, firing US Attorneys who were unwilling to pursue phony 'voter fraud' cases, and politicized the Civil Rights Division," the statement (posted in full at the end of this article) reads.

The release goes on to decry the politicization of the Bush Department of Justice, and what is described as their "outright assault" on the right to vote.

"Tanner's outrageous comments underscore the GOP's utter disregard for the integrity of our nation's election system and are an affront to the spirit of the Voting Rights Act," Dean and Brazile said, before declaring that the embattled Voting Rights Section chief "should be fired immediately and replaced with someone who will work to make sure that all citizens are able to vote and have their vote counted."

They call on Judge Michael Mukasey, if he is confirmed as the next Attorney General, to "commit to replacing Tanner with someone who will protect our rights, not ignore them for a partisan agenda."

As The BRAD BLOG recently reported, however, Mukasey made clear in his recent Senate Confirmation hearings that he does not object to restrictive polling place Photo ID laws which critics contend may disenfranchise anywhere from 10 to 30 million largely Democratic-leaning voters who do not have such ID.

Previously, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) have called for Tanner's firing. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) wrote Mukasey last week to ask if he will review the matter and consider the termination of Tanner.

Tanner's objectionable comments were made several weeks ago during a panel discussion on Photo ID issues at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles. Tanner, who approved a controversial Georgia Photo ID law on behalf of the DoJ against the advice of the majority of the career staffers in the Voting Rights section, admitted the law would disenfranchise some elderly voters and added that while that was a "shame," minorities would somehow be positively affected by such laws since "they don't become elderly. They die first."

(A short clip of Tanner's comments is posted at left.)

The Georgia ID law was later found unconstitutional and overturned by two federal courts that compared the restriction to a modern-day Jim Crow-era poll tax.

Paul Kiel at TPM Muck has a few more thoughts in advance of tomorrow's Judiciary Committee hearings.

Though Tanner comments were originally video-taped and reported by The BRAD BLOG, the DNC press release credits Fox News.com (thanks guys!).

UPDATE: Tanner apologizes for remarks! Sort of...

The complete DNC statement from Howard Dean and Donna Brazile as just issued, follows below...

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

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Washington Post Turns to Rightwing 'Nutroots' for 'Expert' Input...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2007 2:36pm PT  

A "Game of Chicken" is how Washington Post describes the current standoff in the Senate concerning the FEC nomination of GOP "voter fraud" zealot/operative Hans von Spakovsky. The nomination is currently at a standstill, along with three other FEC nominations that Senate Republicans insist be voted on along with him, in the wake of a hold registered by Obama and Feingold.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's D-NV) incredible "deal" to slide HvS's nomination through has, for now, thankfully come to a standstill. But the resultant standoff could mean no operational FEC in 2008 as only two commissioners are currently left, and a minimum of four are needed to vote on anything.

WaPo's piece includes supportive quotes, in favor of von Spakovsky, from hard right partisan and former FEC Chair Brad Smith. Yet it fails to point out how much of a rightwing bomb-thrower Smith --- who charged in his own Redstate blog item last week that HvS is "currently under attack for being a Republican" --- actually is. Would WaPo have given such prominence to someone on the other side of the political spectrum?

You'll note, in Smith's piece, written prior to WaPo's, that he refers to Democratic "nutroots" as being responsible for the hold, along with "the campaign finance zealotry of Senator Feingold." Smith, apparently, forgot to mention that Feingold's co-sponsor on that bill was John McCain, who --- last we checked --- is a Republican.

In short, Smith argues in his Redstate diatribe, that though HvS may have participated in GOP-backed voter supression efforts when he served at the DoJ, nobody has complained about actions during his tenure over the last many months as an absentee appointee at the FEC. To which we say, yes, after the Fox has overseen the mutilation of the chickens in the Henhouse, by all means, let's elect him as chief meat inspector for the USDA.

Beyond that, and in teeing things up for this Tuesday's heaings in the House Judiciary Committee, set to star John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, the outrageously still-employed chief of the Bush DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section, Christy Hardin Smith suggests the GOP may be "throwing Tanner under the bus" in favor of von Spakovsky. She catches us up with the latest today in "Hans Down".

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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...

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

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