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Monday, May 14, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

Via WaPo: Voter-Fraud Complaints by GOP Drove Dismissals

Nearly half the U.S. attorneys slated for removal by the administration last year were targets of Republican complaints that they were lax on voter fraud, including efforts by presidential adviser Karl Rove to encourage more prosecutions of election- law violations, according to new documents and interviews.

Of the 12 U.S. attorneys known to have been dismissed or considered for removal last year, five were identified by Rove or other administration officials as working in districts that were trouble spots for voter fraud — Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee; New Mexico; Nevada; and Washington state. Four of the five prosecutors in those districts were dismissed.

It has been clear for months that the administration’s eagerness to launch voter-fraud prosecutions played a role in some of the firings, but recent testimony, documents and interviews show the issue was more central than previously known. The new details include the names of additional prosecutors who were targeted and other districts that were of concern, as well as previously unknown information about the White House’s role.

This is clearly problematic and, I would argue, unacceptable. It is one thing for the DoJ to be directed to deal with specific policy goals (such as an emphasis on drugs or child pornography or whatever). It is yet another to use the prosecutorial arms of the federal government in way that would specifically target the opposition political party (and make no mistake: “voter fraud” is an issue that cuts against Democrats and for Republicans).

I think that Marty Lederman‘s run down of the situation, including the possibility that we could find that the dismissal run afoul of the law, to be on target.

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8 Responses to “The USAs and the Issue of Voter Fraud”

  1. MSS Says:

    So, the use of USAs to influence elections has now made the MSM. Right on. It was on Democracy Now! about three weeks ago. But who watches that?

    And, regarding the substance of the story, I will say something I have to say far too often regarding the Bush presidency: I wish I could say I was surprised, but I am not. Not in the least.

  2. Steven Plunk Says:

    Are you saying that law enforcement that helps Republicans and hurts Democrats is problematic? I thought voter fraud weakened the entire democracy.

    If we some day determine that more Dems smoke weed should lessen enforcement so as to not incarcerate to many liberal voters?

    I’m just not following the logic on this. My position has been stated many times on the USA “controversy”, it’s much ado about nothing.

  3. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Steve,

    I don’t have time to go into now, although I have noted this before: within Republican circles the notion of “voter fraud” has been seen to be something that exclusively helps Democrats and therefore has been a focus on the GOP for several years now.

    I will try and go into it more later.

    Specifically you should note that that this was a Rove-generated initiative that was directed at garnering attention in swing states where it was assumed that voter fraud was helping Democrats. This was not about some generic fraud problem, but about looking for cases in which investigations would help the GOP. It was a way of fishing for votes.

    Again, I will try to get back to this soon.

  4. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    And Matthew: I have seen speculation of this issue from the beginning. This is the first report that I have seen that show concrete evidence of a connections between the WH, the fraud issue and the USAs.

    I have blogging before, weeks back, that it was clear that the administration was overly interested in this issue for partisan gain.

    More later.

  5. Sean Hackbarth Says:

    The dynamic in Milwaukee may be different. Due to an incompetent election board and previous documented cases of people bribing people to vote voter fraud has been a focus for some time. There were too many questions unanswered that it was reasonable to investigate. If anything the U.S. Attorney, Steven Biskupic, was less partisan than the the Republican Party of Wisconsin who a few times shot first and asked questions later.

    The fault I see is letting Karl Rove have anything to do with the executive branch’s coercive power. All his life he’s been about winning elections. It’s in his blood, and that’s where his instincts take him. With a weak AG like Gonzales you end up with the mess we have now.

  6. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    The fault I see is letting Karl Rove have anything to do with the executive branch’s coercive power. All his life he’s been about winning elections. It’s in his blood, and that’s where his instincts take him. With a weak AG like Gonzales you end up with the mess we have now.

    This is precisely the problem, and what critics mean by an undo politicization of the DoJ. It simply should never be the domain of persons in the WH who are primarily concerned with partisan political outcomes having any influence over the behavior of the administration of Justice.

    While I know you are closer to the Wisconsin situation than I, it is noteworthy that the “evidence” that was submitted to the local USA about voter fraud was a dossier of newspaper clippings about alleged fraud in the previous election–not exactly the stuff one builds a legal case on.

  7. MSS Says:

    Steven, indeed. Your blogging on this has been excellent. But while I have seen you refer frequently to partisan gain as the motivation, if you had referred before specifically to intervention in the electoral process, I must confess that I had missed it.

  8. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Thanks.

    I will admit that I haven’t focused overmuch on that aspect to date, as I have been waiting for shoes to drop, so to speak.


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