Controversial Former Voting Rights Section Chief May Have Some Attachment Issues
Party Held This Evening in D.C. in His 'Dishonor'...
By Brad Friedman on 12/18/2007, 7:20pm PT  

It looks like the now-resigned but newly-reassigned former chief of the Voting Section in the DoJ's Civil Rights Division, John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, may be having trouble letting go.

The BRAD BLOG received the following email from a DoJ insider who has requested anonymity. We've confirmed the details with another insider DoJ source...

Something odd is in the air at the voting section.

John Tanner, the chief that “resigned immediately” last Friday after extreme controversy seems to have not gotten the memo to depart. Tanner has been lingering in the chief’s office playing on his computer for the last two days. He claims to have needed time to “pack” but there is nothing left to pack. Could the announcement that he was leaving be a ruse to buy some Congressional peace??

In a follow up note, the source added some detail that the lingering Tanner "had all weekend to pack," but "had very very little actually to pack as he only has one file cabinet in his office."

No doubt, that file cabinet is chock-full of letters to Ohio election officials telling them they did a swell job in 2004.

A second DoJ source confirms the sorry tale. That source told The BRAD BLOG, that Tanner "has been in his office for the last two days" and "he has not been talking to anybody."

"He is ostensibly packing his office, but he has been there," the source told us, before both offered still more insight on the very different way that others were forced, by Tanner, to leave the section in a hurry when their time was up, and on the fete being held tonight by staffers, current and former, in his dishonor...

The second source described how Tanner pushed previous outgoing colleagues out the door when they were similarly "reassigned."

"Bob Berman was not even allowed to clear out his desk," when he was forced out, just after Tanner became Voting Section chief, the source explained, adding that someone else "was told to clean out his desk for him."

Berman was one of the dissenters in the now infamous Georgia Photo ID case where the majority of Voting Section career staffers recommended against approving the new law under the Voting Rights Act, since, they argued, it would cause minority voter disenfranchisement in the state. Nonetheless, Tanner overruled the vast-majority advice of his staff, Berman was moved out shortly thereafter, and two federal judges would ultimately find the law unconstitutional on the grounds that it amounted to little more than a modern day Jim Crow era poll tax.

Tanner had been answering a question about that very case, at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles last October, when he made his now infamous comments that "minorities don't grow elderly the way white people do. They die first." The firestorm in the wake of those comments, as originally video-taped and reported by The BRAD BLOG, ultimately led to his undoing.

Our first source confirmed the Berman story, saying that "Tanner took him to coffee and told him he had a couple of hours to hit the road."

As well, another "reassigned" staffer in the department was apparently given just hours by Tanner, to clean out his desk and hit the bricks.

But none of that has kept the overjoyed Voting Section staffers --- even some of whom had left after things "went South" --- from celebrating. They were out in force tonight, celebrating Tanner's "departure" (well, if he ever gets out, anyway) at DC's posh Ozio Martini and Cigar Bar Lounge. Party on, boys! Hope you smoked one for us...

UPDATE 12/19/07: The next morning. And one of our sources writes us to say: "WTF…he’s here today, too?!?"

UPDATE 12/21/07: And he's still there on the Friday before Xmas! A full week after he notified his staff that he was resigning last Friday "effective immediately"! Fresh details now here...