Bingo

Bush Administration, U.S. Attorneys

New York Times editorial [emphasis added]:

In its fumbling attempts to explain the purge of United States attorneys, the Bush administration has argued that the fired prosecutors were not aggressive enough about addressing voter fraud. It is a phony argument; there is no evidence that any of them ignored real instances of voter fraud. But more than that, it is a window on what may be a major reason for some of the firings.

In partisan Republican circles, the pursuit of voter fraud is code for suppressing the votes of minorities and poor people. By resisting pressure to crack down on “fraud,” the fired United States attorneys actually appear to have been standing up for the integrity of the election system. …

… There is no evidence of rampant voter fraud in this country. Rather, Republicans under Mr. Bush have used such allegations as an excuse to suppress the votes of Democratic-leaning groups. They have intimidated Native American voter registration campaigners in South Dakota with baseless charges of fraud. They have pushed through harsh voter ID bills in states like Georgia and Missouri, both blocked by the courts, that were designed to make it hard for people who lack drivers’ licenses — who are disproportionately poor, elderly or members of minorities — to vote. Florida passed a law placing such onerous conditions on voter registration drives, which register many members of minorities and poor people, that the League of Women Voters of Florida suspended its registration work in the state.

The claims of vote fraud used to promote these measures usually fall apart on close inspection, as Mr. McKay saw. Missouri Republicans have long charged that St. Louis voters, by which they mean black voters, registered as living on vacant lots. But when The St. Louis Post-Dispatch checked, it found that thousands of people lived in buildings on lots that the city had erroneously classified as vacant.

The United States attorney purge appears to have been prompted by an array of improper political motives. Carol Lam, the San Diego attorney, seems to have been fired to stop her from continuing an investigation that put Republican officials and campaign contributors at risk. These charges, like the accusation that Mr. McKay and other United States attorneys were insufficiently aggressive about voter fraud, are a way of saying, without actually saying, that they would not use their offices to help Republicans win elections. It does not justify their firing; it makes their firing a graver offense.

Yes, yes, yes. That’s the critical point. It’s not whether Presidents can fire U.S. attorneys whenever they want to, because they can. It’s not how many were fired, or when, or whether Bill Clinton did it too. The critical issue is why.

And the why is that they would not use their offices to help Republicans win elections.

Update: And the spin spins. Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom provides us with another example of righties who can’t read:

Yeah, it would be kind of like being concerned about the behavior of the Flying Imams to investigate allegations of voter fraud, because it’s not about that–it’s all about their hidden agenda to suppress other people’s rights. I’ve read a lot of stuff that’s pissed me off in the NYT, but this earns them a big Collins “fuck you.”

And Rick Moran, who is not always literacy challenged, falls into the same hole:

The New York Times is pooh-poohing the idea that some of the USA’s were fired for not aggressively going after voting fraud cases. To the Times, voter fraud is just not important enough an issue to remove a US Attorney.

That is not what the Times wrote. This is what it wrote (emphasis added):

John McKay, one of the fired attorneys, says he was pressured by Republicans to bring voter fraud charges after the 2004 Washington governor’s race, which a Democrat, Christine Gregoire, won after two recounts. Republicans were trying to overturn an election result they did not like, but Mr. McKay refused to go along. “There was no evidence,” he said, “and I am not going to drag innocent people in front of a grand jury.”

See, m’loves, the problem was not that the attorneys didn’t investigate. The problem was that they didn’t bring charges, and they didn’t bring charges because they lacked evidence to bring charges.

Mr. McKay is not the only one of the federal attorneys who may have been brought down for refusing to pursue dubious voter fraud cases. Before David Iglesias of New Mexico was fired, prominent New Mexico Republicans reportedly complained repeatedly to Karl Rove about Mr. Iglesias’s failure to indict Democrats for voter fraud. The White House said that last October, just weeks before Mr. McKay and most of the others were fired, President Bush complained that United States attorneys were not pursuing voter fraud aggressively enough.

There is no evidence of rampant voter fraud in this country. Rather, Republicans under Mr. Bush have used such allegations as an excuse to suppress the votes of Democratic-leaning groups. They have intimidated Native American voter registration campaigners in South Dakota with baseless charges of fraud. They have pushed through harsh voter ID bills in states like Georgia and Missouri, both blocked by the courts, that were designed to make it hard for people who lack drivers’ licenses — who are disproportionately poor, elderly or members of minorities — to vote. Florida passed a law placing such onerous conditions on voter registration drives, which register many members of minorities and poor people, that the League of Women Voters of Florida suspended its registration work in the state.

The claims of vote fraud used to promote these measures usually fall apart on close inspection, as Mr. McKay saw. Missouri Republicans have long charged that St. Louis voters, by which they mean black voters, registered as living on vacant lots. But when The St. Louis Post-Dispatch checked, it found that thousands of people lived in buildings on lots that the city had erroneously classified as vacant.

Surely there are isolated incidents of voter fraud here and there. But if righties want to claim that the purged attorneys weren’t doing their jobs, they need to cough up evidence that widespread voter fraud on the part of Democrats was going in in those attorneys’ jurisdictions. I am skeptical they will find it.

Share Button
10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. SamFromUtah  •  Mar 15, 2007 @11:14 pm

    Excellent!

    I guess it’s time to switch from “b-b-but Clinton!” to “damn liberal media!”

  2. SamFromUtah  •  Mar 15, 2007 @11:15 pm

    …and oh yes – this suppression crap has to be what Turdblossom meant by “the” math, hm?

  3. biggerbox  •  Mar 16, 2007 @12:22 pm

    Absolutely right. It’s clear that the ‘problem’ was not that they didn’t investigate, but that they didn’t indict. McKay did look into the allegations, and talked to a bunch of people, and no one, not even local Republican elected officials, had evidence to give him.

    The right-wingers have an ongoing problem understanding the importance, or even the definition, of evidence. As we saw with ‘evidence’ of WMD in Iraq, wishing for it, and claiming you have it, doesn’t actually make it so.

    Now, it may be that the problem is that laws about voter fraud are such that convictions are hard, so cases don’t get brought. But I’ve seen no attempt to prove that to be true, merely attempts to ‘fix’ a problem that exists primarily in the unattributed anecdotes of right-wing political operatives. That, and unreasoning anger from Republicans who, despite their party being overwhelmingly in power, insist that they are being robbed of election successes.

  4. pluky  •  Mar 17, 2007 @2:27 pm

    Prosecutors investigate allegations of crime. However, if they cannot collect sufficient evidence that:

    — a crime was likely committed
    — the person(s) named is(are) the probable cause of said crime

    no Grand Jury will return a true bill of indictment.

    The cliche that “a Grand Jury will indict a ham sandwich” works not because the panelists are gullible, but because a competent prosecutor won’t present garbage.

  5. Dan Collins  •  Mar 17, 2007 @6:20 pm

    “Rampant” is a weasel word. It needn’t be “rampant” by the NYT’s definition to be effective:

    http://powerlineblog.com/archives/017061.php

    Here’s another interesting case in point. Perhaps the NYT believes that The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is a right-wing organ:

    http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=324933

    Meanwhile, NYC is considering allowing all residents, legal or not, the right to vote, even as foreign students are ejected from Mexico for having the temerity to join political demonstrations, as Mexican social services officials fly into the US to support illegal immigrants’ rights demonstrations, and Mexican military take bribes from Guatemaltecas attempting to cross between machine gun emplacements.

    You need a picture ID to cash a check. Of course, that’s much more important than safeguarding the integrity of the ballot. But I only say that because I want to suppress the rights of the unfortunate, right?

  6. maha  •  Mar 17, 2007 @10:33 pm

    Dan: First, PowerLine is a joke, and any links to PowerLine as “proof” of anything are pointless.

    The New York Times does not advocate allowing non-citizens to vote. That’s absurd. But I guess if you believe PowerLine you’d believe anything.

    No one says there is no such thing as voter fraud, just that most of the voter fraud Republicans talk about exists only in their fevered imaginations.Your one example doesn’t change that fact. Show me proof of voter fraud in the districts in which u.s. attorneys were purged. A case of voter fraud in Milwaukee is not proof that it’s going in in Seattle.

    Throughout American history all kinds of “requirements” have been used to prevent minorities from voting, like poll taxes and poll tests. Voter ID requirements are just another scam to keep minorities and poor from voting.

  7. Dan Collins  •  Mar 18, 2007 @8:41 pm

    We can argue back and forth about what constitutes a “valid” or “invalid” source. The question is whether in some particular instance what they say is right or not.

    How exactly is it that minority voters are placed at a disadvantage by a requirement to demonstrate citizenship? Would you be satisfied, for example, if there were a program to supply every eligible voter with a legal form of picture identification for free, with house calls available? Would that be burdensome?

    How serious an offense ought it be to vote under false pretenses or in multiple locations or to submit an absentee ballot and vote elsewhere? Should it be considered as serious as check fraud? Should it be considered as serious as perjury? And if it were, how diligently ought it be pursued?

  8. maha  •  Mar 18, 2007 @10:11 pm

    Dan — First, read this article about purged U.S. attorney Iglesias’s investigation of voter fraud. “‘Culling through about 100 tips about fraud, investigators found only a handful that had some merit, and “only one where we had a real shot,’ Mr. Iglesias said.” But the Republican Party was pressuring Iglesias to file federal charges whether there was evidence or not. That’s why this is a scandal.

    Regarding voter fraud — sure, it’s serious, when it happens, it should be investigated vigorously, and if caught it should be severely punished. If you could think up a way to make fraud more difficult without it being burdensome to any legitimate voters, that would be fine by me. No one has done that yet, that I’ve heard.

    The real issue is that whenever Republicans lose an election they imagine fraud. And most of the time, apparently, this is a bugaboo in their own twitchy little minds.This country has a lot more pressing problems.

  9. Dan Collins  •  Mar 18, 2007 @11:51 pm

    What about my proposal? There is already provisional balloting available most everywhere. Is there a method that you could think of that would be secure, yet not “burdensome”?

  10. maha  •  Mar 19, 2007 @6:53 am

    What about my proposal? There is already provisional balloting available most everywhere.

    One suspects those “provisional” ballots have a way of not getting counted.

    Is there a method that you could think of that would be secure, yet not “burdensome”?

    As far as I know everyone is required to present ID when registering to vote, which IMO is a workable system. It’s not perfect, but so far I haven’t seen any evidence that there is more voter fraud going on now than has been true for the past couple of centuries or so. In fact, it’s possible there is less voter fraud now than in the days of the city bosses.