Blogged by Brad from St. Louis...
Slowly but surely, the issue of felonious Republican "Vote Caging" during the 2004 Presidential Election is making its way into the consciousness of media, federal, state, and local elected officials and --- whether they like it or not --- the Bush/Cheney campaign officials who were involved in the practice despite repeated consent decrees signed by the RNC that they would no longer use the tactic to target minority voters for removal from voting rolls.
Today, the Florida Times-Union is reporting that, "Internal city memos show the issue of Republican 'vote caging' efforts in Jacksonville's African-American neighborhoods was discussed in the weeks before the 2004 election, contradicting recent claims by former Duval County Republican leader Mike Hightower - the Bush-Cheney campaign's local chairman at the time."
The report goes on to say that Hightower had previously denied any knowledge of the practice of vote caging, which includes sending registered letters, marked "Do Not Forward," to targeted voters along with a request to return a postcard. When the postcards are not returned, officials might then take measures to challenge the voters at the polls, or remove them entirely from the voting rolls.
Last month, Hightower reportedly told that paper that the issue of caging never came up in county meetings prior to the elections, and that he had never heard "of that expression or that practice."
The Internal memos show otherwise, according to the paper. In fact, the issue came up quite regularly at meetings. Nonetheless, Hightower --- pulling a Bob Dole and referring to himself in the third person --- is sticking by his denial...
"I've never heard the phrase or the practice. I don't care what anybody says," he said. "That's their opinion. Mike Hightower doesn't remember that. Call it a senior moment."
The issue of vote caging lists from Duvall County, Florida, first came to light prior to the 2004 election as reported at the time by the BBC's Greg Palast. It was subsequently ignored by the American media.
In late May of this year the issue took on a new life when DoJ White House liaison Monica Goodling testified in a U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing (the Times-Union reports it incorrectly as having occurred in a Senate Judiciary Hearing) that Bush/Cheney '04 oppo-research director turned Karl Rove protege turned interim Arkansas US Attorney Tim Griffin had been involved in vote caging in 2004. Palast followed up Goodling's testimony with an exclusive report here at The BRAD BLOG, which included contemporaneous email from Griffin with the subject line "Re: caging" and his comments, "thank you, perfect," in reply to the email, which included spread sheet attachments said to list minority voters being targeted in Florida.
Griffin would later leave Team Bush '04 to go to work for Rove before being inserted into the U.S. Attorney job in Arkansas where the previous USA, Bud Cummins, had been pushed out as one of the first to go in the Bush U.S. Attorney Purge.
Griffin resigned his Arkansas USA post not long after the allegations again came to light last May during Congressional investigations into the purge. In a teary post-resignation speech, he, like Hightower, denied knowing anything about vote caging, or even what the word meant, claiming that he "had it looked up" recently.
"I'll just say that it's so untrue," Griffin said about the allegations, raised during the Q&A session following his speech in Arkansas. "This is all made up and faux pas. I didn't cage votes, I didn't cage mail, I didn't cage animals, I'm not a zookeeper," the former US Attorney claimed in his unfortunate metaphorical denial.
The website ePluribusMedia, in their comprehensive review of the available email and caging lists, reported that subsequent to the BBC's pre-election reporting of the issue, no voters where then challenged in Duvall County during the '04 Election.
As The BRAD BLOG reported several weeks ago, Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sent a letter to the DoJ, demanding a full investigation, finally, into the vote caging allegations. Their letter referenced consent decrees signed by the RNC from the 1980's in which, after being caught attempting to cage thousands of minority voters, they had agreed to discontinue the practice.
The Times-Union reports that Hightower's apparent contradiction of the public record "comes to light as the U.S. Justice Department continues to consider" the Senator's request for an investigation into "potential illegal voter suppression tactics in Duval County three years ago."
A DoJ spokeswoman told that the paper that the request is still being reviewed.
We're sure it is.