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Monday, May 21, 2007

The Attorney Scandal, Up Close and Personal

The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin shows us the Gonzogate attorney purge scandal up close. It ain't pretty.

As part of a push to prosecute voter fraud cases across the country, federal prosecutors in Milwaukee requested the voting rolls for the city of Madison from the November 2004 election, according to documents released to Congressional investigators looking into last year's firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

The documents, released in response to a request from U.S. Sens. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, both Wisconsin Democrats, show that state and national Republican leaders and immigration groups exerted intense pressure on federal authorities to initiate fraud investigations during and after the heated 2004 presidential election.

Democrat John Kerry won Wisconsin by roughly 12,000 votes, or less than 1 percent of the electorate. Republicans charged that the victory was due in part to widespread voter fraud.

Here's the thing; Madison, Wisconsin is one of the bluest cities in the nation. I don't think it's gone for a Republican presidential candidate in my lifetime. In fact, in 2000, Bush scored dead last behind Ralph Nader at least one district. In 2004, it was a Kerry landslide here, with something like 74% (I'm working from memory here) going for the Democrat. To top it all off, Bush never campaigned here, spending almost all of his time up around Green Bay -- an area he would've won regardless. Most local political observers found this a puzzling -- and foolish -- strategy. It looked like Bush had written off Madison entirely.

Obviously, the idea that dems would have to 'steal' Madison is absolutely ridiculous. Yet, the Gonzales-led Justice Department made voter fraud committed by Democrats priority investigations. With Republicans embroiled in scandal after scandal, team Bush was desperate to prove that dems were just as corrupt.

Another Wisconsin paper reports that the attorney at the center of these investigations was generally seen as excellent -- until he couldn't turn up evidence of widespread voter fraud. Then he got put on Gonzales' hit list.

Wisconsin State Journal:

U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic received a positive performance assessment around the time he said he was placed on a list for possible firing, according to Department of Justice documents released Friday.

"The Eastern District of Wisconsin has effectively dedicated its resources to advocate and implement the Department's national priorities," Mary Beth Buchanan, director of the executive office for U.S. Attorneys, wrote in a letter to Biskupic.

Buchanan praised Biskupic for investigating anti-terrorism cases and for his "aggressive stance on public corruption," including the high-profile prosecutions of two Milwaukee officials.

Despite this good review, Biskupic was catching heat from the local GOP, according to TCT:

State Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greendale, sent several letters to Biskupic's office, asking in October 2004 that Biskupic and the FBI "investigate possible wrongdoing in the registration of certain voters in Southeastern Wisconsin. We ask this with the hope that any activity worthy of prosecution be followed to the full extent of the law."

State Sen. Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield, also wrote Biskupic in October 2004 to express his concern that "fraud may play a large role in the outcome of the (upcoming) election."

After the vote rigging investigations (predictably) went nowhere in 2004, Biskupic sent a state employee up for bid rigging just in time for the 2006 midterms. Georgia Thompson was convicted of rigging travel contracts to benefit Democratic Governor Jim Doyle. The GOP had their dem scandal and Biskupic kept his job.

Former Republican Representative Mark Green's gubernatorial campaign spent more that $4 million -- hard and soft -- on ads linking Doyle to corruption. Ironically, but not coincidentally, Green himself was involved with Tom DeLay's money laundering scandal. Voters showed good sense and an instinct for sniffing out BS, re-electing Doyle over Green.

The election over, Thompson's case was appealed. Things did not go well for the US Attorney's office in that court.

New York Times:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which heard Ms. Thompson's case this month, did not discuss whether her prosecution was political -- but it did make clear that it was wrong. And in an extraordinary move, it ordered her released immediately, without waiting to write a decision. "Your evidence is beyond thin," Judge Diane Wood told the prosecutor. "I'm not sure what your actual theory in this case is."

It's hard to see how the prosecution could be anything other than political. Biskupic, as I mentioned earlier, was getting good job reviews. Those reviews make this flimsy case against Thompson stand out in his job history. The switch from competent prosecutor to bumbling idiot is more than a little suspicious.

This is the Gonzales attorney purge scandal in a nutshell; innocent people screwed over for politics. And those innocent people are people the US Attorney is charged with protecting. The idea of the Justice Department using prosecutors as political predators is beyond appalling -- it shows DOJ leadership as having absolutely no morals, ethics, or even conscience. This is not a political office and prosecution isn't a hammer to use on your opponents.

If we add what happened in Wisconsin with what happened with John Ashcroft, it becomes very clear that Alberto Gonzales is slime and that his standard for federal prosecutors was that they also be slime.

There's probably a story like Georgia Thompson's and Steven Biskupic's in every blue or purple state in the nation -- i.e., most of them. Gonzales, who served on the Texas Supreme Court before becoming the Head of the Department of Justice, is revealed as a man for whom 'justice' -- and, by extension, 'injustice' -- is just a word.


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