Archive for May 2nd, 2007

by Jay Stevens

Matt’s got this story posted, about how Montana’s Bill Mercer and Attorney General Gonzalez retroactively changed a law so as to enable Mercer to “work” two jobs at once:

On Nov. 10, 2005, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales sent a letter to a federal judge in Montana, assuring him that the U.S. attorney there, William W. Mercer, was not violating federal law by spending most of his time in Washington as a senior Justice Department official.

That same day, Mercer had a GOP Senate staffer insert into a bill a provision that would change the rules so that federal prosecutors could live outside their districts to serve in other jobs, according to documents and interviews.

Mercer’s non-presence in Montana was bogging down courts in Montana – at least that’s what Billings justice Molloy claimed in voicing his complaint. So the loyal Bushies jerry-rigged the rules to allow Mercer to ignore his Montana office, while (one assumes) still punching his time clock.

This maneuver is made even worse in light of the fact that the Dept of Justice used absentee office-holding as an excuse to fire New Mexico attorney David Iglesias. Only Iglesias wasn’t polishing wingtips in Washington DC during his absences, he was serving in the Naval Reserves.

That’s probably why Jon’s asking Mercer to step down:

For months, I gave Bill Mercer the benefit of the doubt that he was shooting straight with me and with the people of Montana. Mr. Mercer has been given every opportunity to do right by the people he represents; he has passed on that chance too many times. Mr. Mercer was operating outside federal law, so he had the law changed. That might work in Alberto Gonzales’ Justice Department, but it’s not how we do business in Montana. He should resign his post as Montana’s U.S. Attorney immediately.

(Wouldn’t it be lovely to hear similar statements from Max and Dennis?)

That’s one of my pet peeves, I admit, when folks use their office or wealth or connections to skirt the rules they then apply to the rest of us with officious zeal. So, yeah, I think Mercer should step down.

But will he? And what should we do if he won’t? All this grilling of Gonzo is good fun, but I think it’s evident that the man is unfit for his office, as are his underlings. Let’s do something.

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by Jay Stevens

Shane got the same press release from the Democratic party that I did, announcing that Rehberg staffer, Randy Vogel received a federal grand jury subpoena:

Rehberg Staff Hit with Federal Grand Jury Subpoena

(Helena, MT) – It was learned today that the office of Congressman Dennis Rehberg has received a grand jury subpoena by the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana. According to the official Congressional Record, Rehberg’s State Director Randy Vogel has been summoned to a federal grand jury. Rehberg’s office would not disclose the reason for the grand jury subpoena.

I’m not going to speculate – unlike the press release – why Vogel was subpoenaed. A subpoena is a request to supply testimony for a criminal investigation – in this case of a federal crime – it doesn’t mean that the subpoenaed individual is under investigation.

You may remember Vogel: he was the Rehberg staffer involved in a little Iron Horse bathroom fracas. From all accounts, though, it was pretty obvious the incident was the obnoxious drunk’s fault.

by Jay Stevens

Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker wrote yesterday about indictments brought against four registration recruiters working for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in Missouri, and the indictments’ relationship to the prosecutor purge. Basically – and you should read it yourself – but US Attorney Bradley Scholzman rushed basically baseless allegations.

Four recruiters were indicted over six forged registration forms – turned in by ACORN itself.

The former U.S. Attorney for Little Rock Bud Cummins told Salon that in cases like this, the fraud is perpetrated upon ACORN, not by them. The organizers forge registrations in order to justify their $8.00/hour wages. Elyshya Miller, the organizer from ACORN, explained to me that the group frequently hires people who are in “desperate situations,” who “really need something at the time.”

That is, the organization policed itself, and was the victim of fraud. (Unlike, say, signature collection that was marred by “pervasive fraud.” Those organizations were, at best, indifferent to fraud.)

I won’t go into the details of the case itself, or how it fits into the prosecutor purge or the GOP’s phantom tilting at voter fraud in a bald attempt to discourage voting. What I want to talk about is hinted at in Kiel’s piece, where he mentioned the news of the indictments was covered by major news outlets. (Fox interviewed an elections official who said it was “the worst case of registration abuse in the last quarter century.”) And, as Steve Benen pointed out, five days before the election, the Wall Street Journal dedicated a front-page editorial to the case:

The good news for anyone who cares about voter integrity is that the Justice Department finally seems poised to connect these dots instead of dismissing such revelations as the work of a few yahoos. After the federal indictments were handed up in Kansas City this week, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement that “This national investigation is very much ongoing.”

The work was, of course, of a few yahoos.

What’s interesting to me, is to what extent major media organizations – in this case The Wall Street Journal and Fox News – rushed to support the allegations made by the “loyal Bushie” during a crucial moment in the 2006 elections. While the WSJ’s editorial is, well, an editorial, it’s obviously and shamelessly written in collusion with the Bush administration goals of crying voter fraud where there is none.

The question we should be asking, are these outlets working in collusion with the Republican party? Or are they rushing to judgment in support of an obvious conservative policy?

Because what’s clear is that they were concerned with neither the facts, nor journalistic integrity.




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