First, the good-ish news. Just out from Jason Leopold at truthout [emphasis added]:
Succumbing to improper political pressure in firing a US attorney would constitute a violation of Justice Department policy.
Recently, the OPR contacted Iglesias's former executive assistant, Rumaldo Armijo, to interview him about whether he was pressured by Pat Rogers, a Republican attorney in Albuquerque, and Mickey Barnett, a Republican lobbyist, to bring charges of voter fraud against Democrats in the state, individuals with knowledge of the scope of the OPR probe said.
Rogers was affiliated with the American Center for Voting Rights, a now defunct non-profit organization that sought to defend voter rights and increase public confidence in the fairness and outcome of elections. However, it has since emerged that the organization played a major role in suppressing the votes of people who intended to cast ballots for Democrats in various states. Rogers is also the former chief counsel to the New Mexico state Republican party, and was tapped by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) to replace Iglesias as US Attorney for New Mexico.
In an interview with Truthout in May, Iglesias said he had investigated so-called voter fraud allegations and found zero evidence to support the claims. He added that, based on evidence that had surfaced thus far and "Karl Rove's obsession with voter fraud issues throughout the country," he now believes GOP operatives had wanted him to go after Democratic-funded organizations in an attempt to swing the 2006 midterm elections to Republicans.
The BRAD BLOG has, of course, been following the GOP's voter suppression scam, headed by the so-called "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR) for years, ever since we first outed them as a phony GOP front group back in March of 2005. See our ACVR Special Coverage page for the entire sordid mess.
As well, in March of 2007, we ran exclusive comments from John Boyd, one of the top Democratic attorneys in New Mexico, who offered his first hand account of the pressure being brought to bear on Iglesias by Republicans in the state to bring phony charges of Democratic "voter fraud" as far back as prior to the 2004 election.
A review of Boyd's insider perspective is instructive, to say the least, particularly as we head into 2008 when disingenuous cries of "voter fraud" will be heard from Republicanists from coast to coast --- as long as they don't concern Ann Coulter's own voter fraud --- and as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear a key case on Photo ID polling place restrictions, described by the Century Foundation's Tova Andrea Wang, in her year-end column, "The Best and Worst of 2007: Voting Rights and Elections," to be "a far more important decision than Bush v. Gore ever was."
But with the continuing --- some might say, snail's paced --- OPR criminal investigation of Gonzales, we should note that the probe, as mentioned above, at least can be said to be moving forward in some fashion. Unfortunately, that's a far cry more than we can say for the job the Democrats are doing in bringing accountability via the U.S. Congress after a full year on the job.
Even the New York Times, in an editorial over the holiday, called on the lackluster Dems to get their act in gear, calling for "a full investigation into the misconduct that may have occurred," in the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal, adding that "it needs to be investigated vigorously and completely."
Then, unfortunately, they offer readers the bad news...
If that's who we've got to count on, we're in more trouble than the Times is yet willing to admit. Though they give it a try, by calling on Reid and Pelosi to bring the Contempt of Congress charges --- that have passed in the Judiciary Committees of each house --- to the floor of their respective chambers for a vote.
"The full House and Senate should affirm those votes and refer the witnesses for prosecution if they still will not cooperate," writes the Times.
So with the Times' permission now, will the hapless Democratic leadership finally move forward upon their return to D.C.? (Pretty please?) We're not holding our breath.
In the Senate, Reid was sent a bi-partisan recommendation for Contempt charges earlier this month, but failed to do anything about it before going home for the Holiday recess, even though the Senate is staying open in pro forma sessions (to Reid's credit) in order to keep Bush from more recess appointments.
In the House, the situation is even more disgraceful. Pelosi has been sitting on the recommended Contempt charges since July without doing a thing. That, even after the Judiciary Committee filed an 842-page report with the House Clerk, detailing the complete charges.
Of course, the House Judiciary committee is sitting on accountability issues themselves as well, in their current refusal to move forward with hearings on Articles of Impeachment against Dick Cheney as referred to them by the full House in early November. The delay has led several committee members, most notably Florida's Robert Wexler, to launch their own public petition campaign in hopes of rallying their own committee to take action!
Their campaign has reportedly received some 100,000 signatures from the American public so far. Yet still, crickets when it comes to the Committee's Constitutional Duty of holding hearings concerning the High Crimes and Misdemeanors so clearly committed by both Cheney and George W. Bush.
And to top all of that off, the last we heard from our DOJ Voting Section sources, John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, was still showing up to his office every day, in no apparent rush to leave, despite his announcement to staff more than two weeks ago that he'd be stepping down from his post as chief of the Civil Rights Division's voting unit "immediately".
After a year on the job, it sure is comforting to know that the Democrats are now in charge and cleaning things up, eh? Happy New Year.