The Loyal Bushies at DoJ 'Wanted to Emasculate' the Voting Rights Act, Says Our Source...
By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2007, 6:55pm PT  

Despite the spotlight being shone on the DoJ's politicization of the electoral system in Missouri and similar "swing" states all across the country, and despite a crushing defeat to their frivolous prosecution against the Show-Me State's Sec. of State Robin Carnahan, which was damn near laughed out of court last April, the DoJ has now signed the paperwork to file an appeal in the very same case.

We were tipped off to the appeal by one of our insider DoJ sources who yesterday had referred to Bradley Schlozman's Senate Judiciary Committee testimony as being "on the razor's edge of perjury." We've got some follow up details on that comment in a moment from the source we'll now call DoJ-Throat.

But as to the Missouri case --- in which Schlozman and the DoJ charged improper voters on the registration rolls, and "voter fraud" of all un-evidenced sorts --- rising yet again from the dead, there is little reported so far, other than a blog in Columbia, MO, quoting SoS Carnahan decrying the appeal.

"The judge who heard this case was clear and unequivocal that the Office of Secretary of State had done its job," says Carnahan, according to the Politics Blog at the Columbia Tribune.

Indeed, as we reported last April, after the case was dismissed, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey pulled few punches in her criticism of the case. "It is also telling that the United States has not shown that any Missouri resident was denied his or her right to vote as a result of deficiencies alleged by the United States," Laughrey decided. "Nor has the United States shown that any voter fraud has occurred."

But, as Republicans are wont to do, apparently, it's time to fire up the judicial system yet again for more partisan, frivolous litigation, we suppose. They refuse to go away. Like Jason, in yet another bad Friday the 13th movie. If they continue their forum shopping all the way up to the Supreme Court perhaps they'll find some Bush-appointed judges who are more friendly to the Bush-appointed US Attorneys bringing the action.

For clarity, this is not the "voter fraud" case that Schlozzie brought just days before the '06 election against several ACORN workers in Missouri. You know, the one which was brought in violation of the DoJ's own written rules mandating such cases not be brought when they might have a political impact on elections. The one which was made to look as if ACORN had done something wrong when, in fact, it was ACORN themselves who had alerted the state to concerns about registration forms submitted by their own workers, and with which nobody had ever actually cast a fraudulent vote. That's the case which Schlozzie admitted, in his testimony yesterday to Sen. Patrick Leahy, could have just as well been brought two weeks after the election instead of just days before it. (If you haven't seen the video of the Leahy/Schlozman exchange on this, we strongly recommend it.)

Rather, the case being appealed by DoJ is the one which former Missouri USA Todd Graves refused to bring in 2005, but which Schlozman insisted on bringing. The one alleging improper maintenance of the voter registration rolls by the state, no doubt, at the recommendation of the GOP's St. Louis "voter fraud" scammer in chief, Thor Hearne of the ACVR, as NPR finally reported on this morning.

As to the former "voter fraud" zealot/chipmunk Schlozman --- who moved from his inappropriate position overseeing the DoJ Voting Rights unit to his inappropriate position replacing Graves as US Attorney for Missouri's Western District in order to bring more frivolous and inappropriately timed "voter fraud" cases in to intimidate Democratic voters during a very close Senate election last year --- our DoJ source had some additional thoughts after yesterday's "razor's edge of perjury" testimony in the Senate...

Some of this may get into the weeds a bit, most appropriate only for PurgeGate junkies perhaps, but hopefully it's all useful for the public record nonetheless.

DoJ-Throat, as we have dubbed our source for now, explains the "razor's edge of perjury" comment by detailing how Schlozman "twisted his answers" in reply to the Senate Democrats' questions yesterday (no Republicans bothered to show up for the hearing).

In reference to Schlozman's fingering of John Tanner as having signed off on the Voting Rights Act (VRA) "pre-clearance" of a new Georgia Voter ID law --- which everyone else in the unit found to be in violation of the VRA --- our source says Tanner was installed in that position precisely to be the fall guy for what the Loyal Bushies had wanted the unit to do.

"He'd do their bidding," DoJ-Throat explained to us yesterday. "For instance, it's indeed true that John Tanner signed off on the letter that pre-cleared Georgia. Tanner, however, certainly did not do it of his own volition. He was the acting section chief back in 1994 when we objected to [a very similar, and even more draconian Voter ID case in] Louisiana."

Back then, Tanner did the right thing, apparently. But that was then and this is now, says the source, who writes that "Somebody TOLD him to pre-clear Georgia, just like they told him to preclear a bunch of other stuff. The Schlozman/Acosta/von Spakovsky crew put Tanner in there for that purpose so they wouldn't have to take the heat."

Tanner had been moved in to take Joe Rich's place in the Voting Rights unit after Rich, a 35-year career staffer and civil rights champion at DoJ, was pushed out. Since leaving DoJ, Rich has been outspoken on the disaster wrought there by the Loyal Bushies.

But Rich was just one of many long-timers in the Civil Rights unit who had been moved out by the Bushies from within, even as they were busy moving out U.S. Attorneys around the country who wouldn't play "voter fraud" ball on behalf of the GOP. And Tanner's role was not the only one "twisted" by Schlozman during his testimony yesterday, according to our source.

Robert Berman was a 28-year member of the Civil Rights unit, and a Section 5 Deputy Chief. Section 5 refers to the required pre-clearance of laws under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That section of the beloved 40-year-old law requires that election laws which may effect minority voting in areas of the country with a history of racial disenfranchisement be given a stamp of approval by the DoJ before they may be instituted.

Berman had been moved out by the Bush Clan and re-assigned to a job pushing paper somewhere at DoJ so that he couldn't get in the way of their plans to roll back 40 years of historic progress in matters of minority voting rights. Only a few Supreme Court decisions, reversing much of the damage wrought by the Bush team's over-ruling of career staffer recommendations against laws like those in Georgia and in Texas, have managed to minimize the lasting effect of their rulings. For the moment, anyway.

During his testimony, Schlozman claimed that Berman was "perfect" for the new job re-assignment. "But why take a 28-year veteran of voting rights out of a job that he was even more perfect for, that of Section 5 Deputy Chief?," our source writes. "Why? Because he was too strong of an advocate for Section 5, and they wanted to emasculate Section 5."

Adding insult to injury, the DoJ source notes, Tanner was assigned the role of moving Berman out.

"The actual notification of Berman," DoJ Throat writes, "fell to Tanner as well, who asked Berman out to coffee one morning (the kiss of death, I'm told). Berman's desk was cleared out that night, and analysts returned to work in the morning to find 'nice to have worked with you' notes on their desks from their former beloved boss."

"Berman's replacement [Yvette Rivera] is completely incompetent and knows nothing about Section 5," the source ads.

Under Rivera, the source contends, "four black analysts representing over 100 years of voting rights experience decided to leave almost simultaneously, and they were replaced by white/Hispanic folks straight out of college."

Since Tanner and Rivera took over, Section 5 objections to laws facing pre-clearance, those which might effect voting rights for minorities in areas where they've been discriminated against, "have plummeted from an average of 8.6 per year in 1995-2004 to an average of 1.5 per year in 2005 and 2006," points out DoJ-Throat.

More on Rivera, and on those who left the department claiming a lack of racial diversity and a hostile working environment under her tenure, is available in a recent NPR story.

On one point at least, the source says, Schlozman managed to tell the complete truth. "Schlozman admitted to sacking Joe Rich, which is actually honest. Some follow-up there would have been good."

But over all, our source concludes, Schlozman was playing fast and loose with the facts during his questioning yesterday. A skill no doubt honed during the "25 to 30 hours" that he admitted spending in preparation his testimony yesterday.

"In short, what Schlozman said may have been technically true," DoJ-Throat says, "but he gave far from complete answers, and the answers that he gave were covering up the true nature of the story."