Editor’s Note: This popular post was first published on January 6 here.
Who said the new GOP majority in Congress wouldn’t act to restrain the Obama Administration?
Less than 24 hours after the start of the 112th Congress, new Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has put Eric Holder on notice a new sheriff is in town. Jennifer Rubin blogging at the Washington Post obtained a copy of a five page letter from Smith to Eric Holder about lawless abuses by the voting section of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
This sudden development is a very uncomfortable turn for the wrongdoers inside the DOJ, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes, whom Smith names in the letter, as well as Steven Rosenbaum, Loretta King and Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez.
Chairman Smith didn’t even wait 24 hours to act. The speed of the opening salvo is bad news for Eric Holder.
Julie Fernandes is the official who engaged in a variety of inappropriate abuse of her office by closing down enforcement of federal laws which require states to maintain the integrity of their voter rolls. Fernandes does not believe the Justice Department should enforce federal laws requiring states to remove dead voters and ineligible felons. DOJ Attorney Christopher Coates told the Civil Rights Commission in sworn testimony that Fernandes was responsible for this policy. Coates testified that this lawless policy caused DOJ officials to spike upwards of 8 investigations he recommended into states with corrupted voter rolls.
Smith wants answers about why Fernandes opposes enforcing Federal laws which preserve the integrity of American elections, and the Chairman deserves the thanks of the American people for acting so swiftly.
What can Smith do about it? Lots.
Smith’s letter is particularly powerful because Smith notes that the Obama administration wants to spent $17 million more dollars in the DOJ Civil Rights Division. This is over and above a $22 million dollar budget increase in 2010. Despite the explosion in spending, the voting section run by Fernandes has virtually shut down and brought hardly any litigation since the inaguration.
DOJ might not get a dime more unless Fernandes is offered up as a sacrifice to the likes of Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa), Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) in a Judiciary hearing.
Who wouldn’t toss Fernandes overboard for $17 million?
But the tales she’ll tell go far beyond dead voters she won’t purge from the rolls. The sordid story of race is part of the saga, and the Justice Department is now viewed as a minority voter turnout machine.
Fernandes is one of the officials who explicitly said the voting rights laws were not going to be used to protect anyone but national racial minorities. The Holder DOJ was all “about politically empowering minorities” she said in my presence and the presence of dozens of others. Minority turnout was the aim of the DOJ, not equal enforcement of federal law.
Laws that require dead voters be removed from the rolls? Those are undesirable laws “that restrict turnout rather than increase it” Fernandes said in my presence, and the presence of dozens of other DOJ attorneys.
Couldn’t Fernandes just commit perjury and say she never did such a thing if she is hauled before Congress? Not likely. Dozens of other people were present when she said lawless and racialist things – and I know for a fact a number of them have the character to testify that she committed perjury if she denied it.
Many of the shills for the government have been hoping that the GOP would either slow walk the Black Panther investigation, or go nuts. Lamar Smith has instead chosen a well balanced approach. He wants answers, he wants his Black Panther documents he has been requesting for 18 months, and he wants them now. It’s a chance for the DOJ to stop the stonewall.
Those now running the DOJ certainly remember the slow grind of Senator Leahy’s oversight hearings in 2006. They might recall that Chairman Conyers dragged career DOJ officials to the Hill in 2007 to testify.
If the Department wants $17 million dollars for the Civil Rights Division, it’s time for the stonewalling to stop. The piper wants to be paid.