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.