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Justice Firings and the ’08 Vote

by Pamela Leavey

Are the justice firings tied to the ’08 vote? It’s certainly looking that way. Yesterday Ginny posted here about the OP/ED by “Joseph D. Rich, chief of the voting section in the Justice Department’s civil rights division from 1999 to 2005,” in which Rich says, “As the 2008 elections approach, it is critical to have a Justice Department that approaches its responsibility to all eligible voters without favor.”

Well, Mr. Rich isn’t the only making the connection. The Boston Globe reported yesterday that on Wednesday, Senator Ted Kennedy “accused President Bush of using the Department of Justice to further his administration’s “right-wing ideology,” saying that veteran prosecutors were replaced by political operatives in key states to ensure that “reliable partisans” are in place in time for the 2008 presidential election.”

Kennedy noted that the recent rash of firings among US attorneys put new top prosecutors in place in several presidential swing states, including Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Arkansas.

At least two of the eight US attorneys fired by the administration refused to investigate spurious claims of voter fraud that were initiated by Republicans, Kennedy said. Two of the new US attorneys, meanwhile, had documented records of pursuing GOP goals, one as a Justice Department official and the other as a top aide to White House political adviser Karl Rove, he said.

“The administration views our system of justice as merely another arena for furthering its right-wing ideology,” Kennedy said in a speech at the National Press Club. “The conclusion is inescapable that the administration has methodically placed reliable partisans in positions where they can influence the outcome of the 2008 election.”

Further implicating the connection that the Bush Administration is laboring to mess with the ’08 election outcome, the “House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sought more information yesterday about a presentation by a White House aide given to political appointees at the General Services Administration that discussed targeting 20 Democratic congressional candidates in the next election.”

In a letter to White House political affairs director Karl Rove, the committee chairman, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), asked about the Jan. 26 videoconference by Rove deputy J. Scott Jennings, which was directed to the chief of the GSA and as many as 40 agency officials stationed around the country.

Jennings’s 28-page presentation included 2006 election results and listed the names of Democratic candidates considered beatable and Republican lawmakers thought to need help. At a hearing Wednesday about the GSA, Waxman said the presentation and follow-up remarks allegedly made by agency chief Lurita Alexis Doan may have violated the Hatch Act, a law that restricts federal agencies and employees from using their positions for political purposes.

In yesterday’s letter, Waxman asked Rove who prepared the presentation and whether Rove or Jennings consulted with anyone about whether it might be in violation of the Hatch Act. Waxman also asked whether Rove or any members of his staff have given the same or similar PowerPoint presentations to political appointees at other government agencies.

The PowerPoint presentation was a focus of Waxman’s hearing Wednesday into Doan’s 10-month tenure and into allegations that she has acted inappropriately. Doan denied the allegations at the hearing.

Six political appointees at the GSA who participated in the videoconference said Doan asked at the conclusion how the agency could help GOP candidates win in the next elections, according to a letter Waxman sent to Doan.

It’s looking uglier by the minute as BushCo continues to dig a deep hole of deceipt and dirty politics. Who would have thought that they might finally get caught up in their own tangled web? Obviously not them.

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