Schlozman's Senate Testimony Adds to DOJ Swamp

Wednesday, June 06, 2007 at 12:44 PM

The DOJ stonewalling on the US Attorney firings and/or the use of the DOJ to affect election results (it's unclear whether those are separate issues or two strands of the same issue) seems to be starting to unravel as more and more DOJ officials testify and contradict each other and claim approval by other DOJ officials. Yesterday, Bradley Schlozman, former interim US Attorney in Missouri, as well as the former head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The result: at least one implication of a fellow DOJ official in the questionable timing of an investigation into fraudulent voter registration cards, and at least one claim that a different DOJ official's version of events involving Schlozman was "untrue."

Many observers were, to say the least, unimpressed. The People for the American Way issued a press release after Schlozman's testimony, saying:

At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, former interim U.S. Attorney Bradley Schlozman refused to take responsibility for his role in the politicization of the Department of Justice. Schlozman, who headed the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ before being appointed interim U.S. Attorney for Western Missouri, battled memory lapses while revealing that he may have bragged about the number of Republican lawyers he hired, and presented flimsy excuses in the face of other allegations.

People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas issued the following statement:

“The fact that a career prosecutor like Todd Graves was fired to make room for a political operative like Schlozman shows just how dire things are at the DOJ.


“As U.S. Attorney he filed election related charges immediately before an election in violation of the DOJ policy, but today tried to pass the blame to a career official. As head of the Civil Rights Division, he didn’t investigate the disenfranchisement of Native Americans in Minnesota, but today made the ludicrous claim that this was just one of thousands of complaints that they were apparently too busy to fully investigate—even though it came directly from the state’s U.S. Attorney.

“Senators Leahy, Feinstein, Schumer and Whitehouse pushed hard to get the truth from the witness, but like his former boss, Schlozman has cast his lot with evasion and half truths. Schlozman should join in the growing exodus of high level appointees leaving the Department of Justice, and he should take Alberto Gonzales with him.”

Schlozman defended bringing a voter fraud case in Missouri just days before the 2006 election, despite guidelines discouraging such cases because of the potential to influence voting, testifying that (1) he received approval from Craig Donsanto, the head of the department's Election Crimes Branch, before bringing the case, and (2) he "did not think it was going to have any effect on the election in this case."

On the first point, TPM Muckraker points out that it seems unlikely that Donsanto would have approved the filing of that case, given that DOJ had guidelines against initiating these kinds of cases close to an election and that Donsanto appears to have been very cognizant of the potential for such cases to influence elections. The latter point is backed up by an e-mail from David Iglesias, one of the fired US Attorneys, to an aide in 2004 saying (emphasis added):

There will be another meeting of the EFTF (Election Fraud Task Force) on Wed, Oct. 6. Craig Donsanto has not authorized the FBI to open any case. ...The federal members of the EFTF should be aware of the DoJ policy of not attempting to influence the outcome of an election through investigation or prosecution. I am not aware of any prosecution which will commence before November 2, 2004. I know Donsanto would not authorize such action because he has stated the same.
Schlozman also defended a claim by the former chief of the voting section, Joseph D. Rich, that Schlozman, while head of DOJ's Civil Rights division, had attempted to quash an investigation by DOJ into allegations of voter discrimination against American Indians in Minnesota. According to the AP's report:
Schlozman told the Senate Judiciary Committee "nobody killed any investigation" and his subordinate's recollection of the matter was "completely inaccurate." In an interview last week, Rich said that in 2004, the U-S attorney's office in Minnesota expressed concern about a state directive that prevented Americans Indians from using tribal I-D's for voting.

At the time, the office was headed by Tom Heffelfinger, who later wound up on a list of prosecutors to be considered for dismissal because of all the time he spent on Indian issues.

It's interesting to look at the details of the two cases.

In Missouri, four people working for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in registering new voters submitted a few (seven for sure) fraudulent voter registrations. In a press release just before Schlozman's testimony, ACORN points out that it discovered the fraud itself, reported it to local authorities, and worked with them to complete the investigation. No unqualified person voted as a result of the behavior of the four activists. That case was prosecuted even though the prosecution came very close to the election and DOJ had guidelines against filing cases sufficiently close to an election that they might affect the outcome.

In Minnesota, the state had issued a rule preventing Americans Indians from using tribal I-D's for voting. The rule clearly had the potential to suppress the Indian vote, and a complaint had been received from the state's US Attorney, but no prosecution was deemed warranted.

Stay tuned. The more DOJ folks who testify, the more interesting this gets, and the more likely it seems that election fraud, in all its forms, was behind a lot of the DOJ shenanigans.


And now, not surprisingly, Mr. Schlozman has "amended" his remarks before the Senate, by means of a follow-up letter, according to Raw Story.
Specifically, Schlozman now is willing to "take full responsibility for the decision to move forward with the prosecutions related to ACORN..."

In his prior testimony, he laid that decision off on Craig Donsanto, the head of the department's Election Crimes Branch.

Ahh, what the hell, what's a little "partisan pre-election manipulation by means of misuse of official authority" among friends?