Heads to Scene of 'Siegelman Crime' and 'DoJ/Republican Election Takeover' to Instruct AL Law Institue How to 'Get DoJ Approval for Election-Law Changes'
All on DoJ's Dime...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2008, 12:48pm PT  

Paging Dan Abrams! Working on several detailed stories for the moment, so not much time for background on this, but we'll try to quickly connect a few dots for you.

Much of it the first part here is so amusing and/or ironical on its own, that I suspect it speaks for itself. At least for anybody who is cursorily familiar with the John "Minorities Die First" Tanner story, as originally broken by The BRAD BLOG's Alan Breslauer, who video-taped the remarks which led, fairly directly, to Tanner's embarassing downfall, sad Congressional testimony and eventual resignation as the head of the DoJ's Civil Rights voting unit. (Our extensive coverage of the entire mess can be perused here.)

This now from AP [emphasis ours]...

The former chief of the Justice Department's Voting Rights Section, who stepped aside in December after apologizing for remarks about minority voters, is now working on election-related issues for the Alabama Law Institute.

John Tanner, who is being paid by the Justice Department under a federal program, also will teach at two Alabama law schools.

The law institutes's president, Alabama House Speaker Pro Tem Demetrius Newton, said he personally contacted Tanner when he heard the long-time voting rights specialist wanted some time away from Washington. At the institute, a part of the University of Alabama, Tanner's work includes developing handbooks for public officials on getting Justice Department approval of election-law changes.

"He's the expert on that," Newton, D-Birmingham, said Monday.

Expert on that, indeed.

The article goes on to note that the DoJ is "paying Tanner's salary and benefits to work in Alabama through next spring." About which Bob McCurley, director of the Alabama Law Institute, said, "It's not costing me anything."

And well worth the price at that!

But that's not all that should be taken note of here. There are at least two very important dots that need connecting here between Tanner, Alabama, the Siegelman case and an unprecedented order by the DoJ in 2006 taking away control of elections from the AL Secretary of State and handing it to the Republican Governor who ousted him under, um, less than crystal-clean circumstances...

Alabama, Tanner's new home, is also home to both the scandal wherein former Gov. Don Siegelman was apparently railroaded by Republican operatives who allegedly flipped his election on electronic voting systems and then trumped up a case to help send him to prison, and a highly unusual order from the DoJ in 2006.

In the following rare video, Siegelman alleges --- after going to bed the winner of his '02 election to wake the next day to find he had "lost" after a county Republican election director "found," by himself, thousands of votes on electronic machines in the middle of the night --- that "This election was stolen...There is no other kind, or sugar-coated way to say it."

Alabama is also the only place in the United States that we're aware of where the DoJ (while Tanner was running the voting section), ordered control of elections to move from the Democratic SoS to the Republican Governor.

That point has been largely overlooked throughout the entire Siegelman brouhaha. From a New York Times editorial on this point, as we originally quoted it in August of 2006:

President Bush’s Justice Department has been criticized for letting partisanship guide its work on voting and elections. And party politics certainly appears to have been a driving force in a legal maneuver it just pulled off in Alabama, where it persuaded a federal judge to take important election powers away from the Democratic secretary of state and give them to a Republican governor.
The Justice Department’s request to shift [Sec. of State] Worley’s powers to Governor Riley is extraordinary. Normally, the government would seek an order telling a state official what to do, or it would ask to have a nonpartisan person appointed as a special master. And the Justice Department’s aggressive stance stands in stark contrast to the forgiving approach it has taken to Republican secretaries of state. After Katherine Harris removed eligible voters from the rolls in Florida in 2000, and Kenneth Blackwell tried to block eligible people from registering in Ohio in 2004, the Justice Department made no effort to limit their powers.
The Justice Department has enormous power over state elections. It is important that this power be used in a way that appears — and is — nonpartisan. Undercutting a Democratic secretary of state, and taking the extraordinary step of handing her powers to a Republican governor, meets neither test. The Justice Department is giving the impression that it is less concerned that elections be lawful and fair than that they come out a particular way.

So has anyone ever connected the dots between the unprecedented 2006 DoJ-ordered Republican Gubernatorial takeover of the election system from the Democratic Sec. of State in Alabama and the Siegelman case? As mentioned...Paging Dan Abrams...

Breslauer's original video of Tanner's fateful remarks, follows below for reference...

(Hat-tip Edward Still of "VoteLaw" for the AP story.)

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