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Department of Injustice Watch: New Black Panther Party scandal update

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By Michelle Malkin  •  January 13, 2010 03:11 PM

It’s the festering scandal the dinosaur media doesn’t want to touch.

But conservative media continue to cover it – and principled advocates for transparency, election integrity, and rule of law continue to shine light on the DO(I)J corruptocracy.

The latest on stonewalling via Jennifer Rubin at Commentary’s Contentions blog:

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights last month propounded interrogatories and document requests to the Justice Department seeking answers as to why the New Black Panther Party case of voter intimidation was dismissed, who was involved, what outside groups participated in the decision, and what this portends for the enforcement of federal civil rights laws. The Justice Department has responded, I have learned.

In a letter to the commission’s chairman, Joseph Hunt, director of the Federal Programs Branch, contends that the department is limited in what it can provide out of concern for its “deliberative processes” and so as not to “undermine its mission.” He doesn’t invoke “executive privilege” per se, but he does assert attorney-client privilege (which some legal gurus tell me doesn’t really “work” between government entities and agencies as a valid objection).

Although the answers largely consist of boilerplate objections, the department does argue that “career attorneys” with more than 60 years of experience made the call to dump the case and that an injunction was obtained against one individual defendant who actually brandished a weapon. Despite the work of the trial team (which sources inform me had ample factual and legal grounds for bringing the case against additional defendants), the Justice Department now says that unnamed career attorneys determined that it should drop the case against those additional defendants. And, of course, the response says politics played no role in the decision. Asked whether the No. 3 man in the Justice Department, Thomas Perrelli, was involved in the decision, as the Washington Times reported, the Justice Department provided no answer, only series of objections. Likewise, the most transparent administration in history — or so we are told — declines to provide the names of those career attorneys who were the decision makers. And at least for now, the Justice Department is not coughing up the names of civil rights groups that may have encouraged them to drop the case against the additional defendants.

In short, the commission is being stiffed.

The Washington Times keeps the heat on:

There needs to be a housecleaning at the very troubled Justice Department, and the top echelons of the Civil Rights Division is the right place to start. Its division chief – a presidential appointee – and its highly politicized senior career employees promote liberal ideology more than they enforce the law.

The latest imbroglio concerns two of the division’s top career lawyers, the ones whom the Obama team chose to run the division until controversial nominees Thomas Perrelli and Thomas Perez could be confirmed. The two officials, Loretta King and Steven H. Rosenbaum, were heavily involved (along with Mr. Perrelli) in dropping an already-won voter-intimidation case against several members of the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia, and both were responsible for other, questionable race-based decisions. On Dec. 30, a federal district court in Kansas sanctioned them for misconduct.

The misconduct involved a failure to be “fully responsive” to earlier court filings. Significantly, the judge – himself a liberal who formerly served as counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union – held the Justice Departmentattorneys personally and “solely responsible for paying the monetary sanctions.”

As the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky pointed out in December, this is at least the second such sanction earned by Ms. King.

Let the DOJ know you are watching: Contact info here.

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GOP Rep. Frank Wolf won’t let it rest:

WOLF CONTINUES TO PUSH FOR ANSWERS ON VOTER INTIMIDATION CASE

Washington, D.C. – As part of his ongoing effort to get answers as to why the Justice Department dismissed a voter intimidation case in Philadelphia involving members of the New Black Panther Party, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) today announced that he has introduced a measure that would require the House Judiciary Committee to deal with the issue.

Wolf also announced that he had language inserted in the annual spending bill that funds the Justice Department requiring that its Office of Professional Responsibility provide the results of the investigation it is conducting surrounding the dismissal the case to the House Appropriations Committee. Wolf, the top Republican on the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations subcommittee, and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, requested the investigation earlier this year.

Wolf introduced a Resolution of Inquiry on Wednesday and it has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Under House rules, committees must take action on resolutions of inquiry within 14 legislative days. Wolf’s resolution directs the U.S. attorney general to provide Congress will “all information” relating to the decision to dismiss the case. The committee must vote the resolution up or down.

Wolf has written the attorney general six times seeking answers and has yet to receive a response from him. He also has written DOJ’s inspector general seeking answers.

“I regret that Congress must resort to oversight resolutions as a means to receive information about the dismissal of this case, but the Congress and the American people have a right to know why this case was not prosecuted,” Wolf said in a statement introducing the measure.

Below is Wolf’s complete statement:

“I rise today to introduce a Resolution of Inquiry directing the attorney general to transmit to the House all information relating to the decision to dismiss an important voter intimidation case, United States v. New Black Panther Party. The case sought to enforce Voting Rights Act statutes against members of the New Black Panther Party that threatened Philadelphia voters — both verbally and physically — last year.

“This case was inexplicably dismissed earlier this year — over the ardent objections of the career attorneys overseeing the case as well as the department’s own appeal office.

“I regret that Congress must resort to oversight resolutions as a means to receive information about the dismissal of this case, but the Congress and the American people have a right to know why this case was not prosecuted.

“As ranking Republican member of the House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Justice Department, I take oversight of the department very seriously.

“I also strongly support voting rights protections. In 1981, I was the only member — Republican or Democrat — of the Virginia delegation in the House to vote for the Voting Rights Act and was harshly criticized by the editorial page of the Richmond Times Dispatch, and when I supported its reauthorization in 2006, I was criticized again by editorial pages.

“Time and again over the last year, the department has stonewalled any effort to learn about the decision to dismiss this case. I have written Attorney General Holder on six occasions asking for an explanation for the dismissal of this case. To date, I have received no response from him.

“I wrote the DOJ inspector general to request a review of this decision. He deferred to the Office of Professional Responsibility – which reports directly to the attorney general. I have written the Office of Professional Responsibility seeking information on its investigation. The Office has refused to share any information.

“In fact, the only response I have received – from a legislative affairs staffer – was woefully incomplete and – in places – inaccurate.

“Two months ago, I met with House Judiciary Chairman Conyers to ask for his assistance in obtaining this information, but he has yet to take any action. This is a shameful failure to provide necessary congressional oversight.

“It is not only Congress that is being stonewalled by the attorney general. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has repeatedly sought this same information, in fulfillment of its statutory responsibility to ensure the enforcement of civil rights law.

“After being similarly rebuffed, the commission filed subpoenas with the department for this information as well as to interview the career attorneys that handled the case.

“However, we understand that the attorney general has instructed his department to ignore these subpoenas. The nation’s chief law enforcement officer is forcing these career attorneys to choose between complying with the law and complying with the attorney general’s obstruction.

“At least one of the attorneys has been compelled to obtain private counsel.

“I urge the House Judiciary Committee to report this resolution out favorably and to demand that the attorney general answer the questions surrounding this case. The career attorneys and Appellate Division within the department sought to demonstrate the federal government’s commitment to protecting voting rights by vigorously prosecuting any individual or group that seeks to undermine this right.

“This House must not turn a blind eye to the attorney general’s obstruction. He has an obligation to answer the legitimate questions of the House and the Civil Rights Commission. It is imperative that we protect the right of all Americans to vote — the sacrosanct and inalienable right of any democracy.”

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