Thursday, June 21, 2007

june 21: next thursday -- LIVE VIDEO! -- senate hearing on civil rights abuses by the civil rights division of the DoJ!


highlight: sen. kennedy, rather
surprisingly. lowlight: wan kim's
belief that there is "no problem" in
the civil rights division. . . sheesh.

here is the realmedia streaming
video link for today's senate
judiciary committee hearing (at
2:00 p.m. e.d.t.), examining the
deplorable record of the DoJ on
civil rights under wan kim:


[the above link won't go active
until shortly before 2 p.m. today,
so check back around that time.]

earlier updated on 06.18.07

senators kennedy and whitehouse
have sent a letter to alberto gonzales
today about the deplorably pernicious
practice of caging, and tim griffin's
alleged role in it in florida in 2004:
June 18, 2007

Alberto Gonzales
Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Attorney General Gonzales:

We write to request that the Department of Justice promptly investigate allegations that the Republican National Committee engaged in “vote caging” during the 2004 elections. We also ask that you investigate whether any Department officials were aware of allegations that Tim Griffin had engaged in caging when he was appointed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and whether appropriate action was taken. Caging is a reprehensible voter suppression tactic, and it may also violate federal law and the terms of applicable judicially enforceable consent decrees.

Caging is a voter suppression tactic whereby a political campaign sends mail marked “do not forward” to a targeted group of eligible voters. A more aggressive version involves sending mail to a targeted group of voters with instructions to sign and return an acknowledgment card. The campaign then creates a list of those whose mail was returned undelivered and challenges the right of those citizens to vote — on the ground that the voter does not live at the registered address. There are many reasons why registered mail might be “returned to sender” that have nothing to do with a voter’s eligibility. A voter might be an active member of the armed forces and stationed far from home, or a student registered at his parents’ address. Even a typographical error during entry of the voter’s registration information might result in an address that appears invalid.

The Republican Party has a long and ignominious record of caging — much of it focused on the African American community. For example, in 1981 the RNC sent a mass mailing into predominantly African American neighborhoods in New Jersey and used the resulting 45,000 letters marked “undeliverable” to challenge those voters’ eligibility. In 1986, the RNC used similar tactics in an effort to disenfranchise roughly 31,000 voters, most of them African American, in Louisiana. These tactics led to litigation and the RNC’s eventual signing of two consent decrees, still in effect, which bar the RNC from using “ballot security” programs ostensibly intended to prevent voter fraud as a tactic to target minority voters.

In 2004, however, allegations of caging by Republican officials arose again — this time over an effort to suppress votes in Florida. Emails sent in August 2004 by Tim Griffin, then Research Director and Deputy Communications Director of the RNC, demonstrate his knowledge and approval of a spreadsheet listing caged voters in predominantly African American neighborhoods in Jacksonville, Florida. (See attached.) Two years later, Mr. Griffin was appointed, without Senate confirmation, as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Such actions appear plainly to violate the consent decrees signed by the RNC in 1981 and 1986. We ask that you investigate whether in these circumstances Mr. Griffin or others may also have violated the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the mail fraud statute, or any other federal statute.

It also appears that high-ranking officials in the Department knew of Mr. Griffin’s involvement in caging. Monica Goodling recently testified to the House Judiciary Committee that she discussed concerns about Mr. Griffin’s involvement in caging with Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty during a session to prepare for Mr. McNulty’s Congressional testimony. It is very disturbing to think that Department officials may have approved the appointment of a United States Attorney knowing that he had engaged in racially targeted vote caging.

Moreover, it is very disturbing to think that senior officials were aware of this practice and did nothing to refer their information to relevant officials within the Department for investigation and a determination as to whether it was a violation of a consent decree or law within the Department’s jurisdiction to enforce.

We, therefore, ask the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility to conduct an investigation to determine who in DOJ knew about Mr. Griffin’s potentially unlawful activity before he was named interim U.S. Attorney, and whether appropriate action was taken on that knowledge, and to recommend whatever action is appropriate.

At a time when the Department’s political independence and its commitment to enforcement of civil rights statutes have been called into doubt, it is vitally important that the Department thoroughly investigate these allegations of unlawful voter suppression, and the apparent failure of Department employees to forward to the appropriate authorities information they had about this practice.


[originally published
june 15, 2007]

a sub-committee of the senate
judiciary committee will hold what
promises to be a block-buster hearing
next thursday -- and i'll have live
video links right here
, on the night
before. the hearing is to be chaired
by senator kennedy, and will lead off
with wan kim, the department of justice ("DoJ")
official responsible for having only
two black DoJ civil rights division
lawyers, and having not hired any black
lawyers, in about four years -- [while
hiring lots of recent regent u. grads!]
thus leaving the number of black civil
rights enforcement division lawyers, inside
that section of the DoJ, at levels last
seen pre-1978, when the division was less
than one-half the size it is today
. . .
so -- i expect he'll have some
explaining to do. . .

i am fairly-certain the issue of
vote-supression, and voter-intimidation
will be discussed -- [click on image
above, seen by a sierra club member, and
election worker
, outside milwaukee, just
before the 2004 presidential elections, for
an example of the intimidation efforts that
sens. barack obama and jerry nadler have
proposed new legislation -- with new
criminal penalties
-- to address. . .]

check this space for video links, next week.

so -- here are the hearing details:

Hearing before the Senate
Judiciary Committee
“Civil Rights Division Oversight”

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dirksen Senate Office Building
Room 226, at 2:00 p.m.

Panel I

Wan Kim
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
U. S. Department of Justice
Washington, DC

Panel II

Wade Henderson
President and CEO
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

Washington, DC

Brian Landsberg
McGeorge School of Law
University of the Pacific
Sacramento, CA

Helen Norton
Visiting Assistant Professor
School of Law
University of Maryland
Baltimore, MD

Roger Clegg
President and General Counsel
Center for Equal Opportunity

Falls Church, VA

Robert N. Driscoll
Alston & Bird LLP
Washington, DC

do check back.

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