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Tilting at Windmills

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March 9, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

HYPERPARTISANSHIP WATCH....Paul Krugman's column today is about a study by two retired professors, Donald Shields and John Cragan, who have taken a look at the partisan breakdown of corruption investigations by the Department of Justice under George Bush. Their preliminary results, published in 2004, showed that DOJ initiated far more investigations of Democrats than Republicans, and their followup study shows that the pattern continued through 2006. However, the really interesting part came in the breakdown between local cases and national cases.

In statewide and federal cases they found a total of 66 investigations. Here's the breakdown:

  • Democrats: 36

  • Republicans: 30

This is roughly what you'd expect. Democrats are slightly overrepresented compared to their actual numbers, but only by a bit. There's nothing fishy. But the numbers for local cases paint a very different story. They found 309 investigations, broken down as follows:

  • Democrats: 262

  • Republicans: 37

  • Independents: 10

Now isn't that odd? At the local level, even though both parties make up about half of all elected officials, Democrats get hammered and Republicans are left alone. Shields and Cragan offer up the following hypothesis:

We believe that this tremendous disparity is politically motivated and it occurs because the local (non-statewide and non-Congressional) investigations occur under the radar of a diligent national press. Each instance is treated by a local beat reporter as an isolated case that is only of local interest....[Conversely] because the investigations of state-wide and federal elected officials and candidates occurred within the radar of the national press, there was little room for nefarious, out-of-line investigations for political purposes on the part of the Bush Justice Department.

And who does these investigations? Why, U.S. Attorneys, the very group that Alberto Gonzales has been busily trying to make even more partisan. Apparently a 262-37 breakdown isn't good enough for him.

Kevin Drum 1:01 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (57)

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Comments

Kebert Xela!

Posted by: Matt on March 9, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't this just scientifically prove that Democrats are more likely to be corrupt than Republicans?

Posted by: American Hawk on March 9, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

And didn't the Pepsi Challenge scientifically prove that Pepsi is better than Coke?

Posted by: American Hawk on March 9, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

262-37 is pretty astonishing.

Gonzalez should be removed, preferably by resignation, if necessary by impeachment.

Our justice system has become a third world mockery.

Posted by: Jimm on March 9, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

It will be interesting to see if this has any legs at all. It's so damn blatant that the Administration will have an impossible time spinning it, but only if the press picks it up.

Any bets on that?

Posted by: Gummitch on March 9, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, the disparity explains why so many Republicans are embroiled in scandal; there's no one watching the henhouse. So they paid the price in 2006, and maybe permanently damaged the GOP brand to boot. This is a good lesson for the Democrats too - patronage will turn around and bite you.

Posted by: Aziz Poonawalla on March 9, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

This alone is impeachable territory - not to mention everything else.

It's amazing how many times I am just blown away by the lack of principles of this administration. Also blown away, that everyone isn't saying that these guys need to be impeached, removed from office IMMEDIATELY.

Seriously - how can ANY reporter, not look at this and report on it daily?

Posted by: JC on March 9, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Just a coincidence, I can assure you.

Posted by: Abu Gonzalez on March 9, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to see the breakdown by administration.

Posted by: racersave on March 9, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Are we done with the charges yet? Just impeach these tyrants.

Posted by: POD on March 9, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Well, this was part of the renewed Patriot Act. What's truly disgusting is the number of Congressmen who claim that they had no idea this was in there.

Posted by: Ringo on March 9, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

This definitely proves 'scientifically' that Dems are more corrupt. And it has been proven 'scientifically' that evolution is a lie, global warming isn't happening, and Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Posted by: American Hawk on March 9, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

in san diego, 3 democratic city council members (as soon as the dems won a majority for the first timt ever), were indicted on bribery charges.

a strip club wanted to repeal the no-touch rule that the city had. apparently, if we touch the strippers the terrorists win.

Posted by: jesus jones on March 9, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

I hope that this episode ultimately will be recognized for what it is: an overblown enforcement matter.

Posted by: Dungheap on March 9, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Kevin. This is the kind of thing it is easy to miss. This ,I suspect is the type of thing, Olbermann would really sink his teeth into. There is no way the average citizen is going to believe that Democrats are 9X more corrupt than Republics.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on March 9, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Politicizing corruption investigations stinks of Stalinism.

Posted by: Brojo on March 9, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Kudos for Bush and the Republicans work to stem the tide of corruption spewing from the Democrats.

This article only highlights what all America-loving Americans have known all along: Democrats are evil.

I'm now going to stuff a wad of twenties in my pants and catch me a couple of Democrats.

(It's a win-win: a few more Democrats get busted. I get off.)

Posted by: Al on March 9, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

And this is a surprise how ?

Sheesh people, wake up, it IS worse than you are willing to admit.

STILL

"A house of cards can stand for a long time in a glass cage. But not when exposed to the elements." - Z.globalguerrillas.typepad.com

Posted by: daCascadian on March 9, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Alot of the hyperpartisanship today is between Democrats.

Moderate Democrat David Obey was confronted by some anti-war Democrats in the hallway outside his office. He lost it. Obey called them "idiot liberals."

To see what I'm talking about, see the YouTube link at Michelle Malkin or PowerLineBlog.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on March 9, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

For example, the well-publicized investigation in 2006 into the Democratic leadership of the California State legislature.... makes me wonder.

(Not there was totally nothing to investigate, but why, and why then.)

Posted by: Tom D on March 9, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Here's another theory: There are a lot of big cities in this country where the the Democratic party essentially rules supreme. Detroit, Cleveland, D.C., etc., the list goes on and on.

With little competition, the potential for graft is huge. Take a look at any of those cities' recent history for proof.

There just isn't the same thing for Republicans. Sure, there are areas where Republicans get elected a lot, but they're mostly just rural areas without much to corrupt.

Posted by: Alex Parker on March 9, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah, I'm REALLY going to go check out something on Michele Malkin's website. Or PowerLineBlog. My bile meter is a tad low.

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 9, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

It would be very intersting to compare the rates of sucessfull prosecution and seriousness of charges as well.

Posted by: jefff on March 9, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

It would be interesting to see a progression of investigations as Bush administration loyalists took control, perhaps a 10 year time frame (or a 20 year, to see how things were under Reagan and Bush I.)

There certainly are some corrupt Dems, and more at a local level. (I lived in Massachusetts, there's a reason why Republican governors used to get elected, although I think Romney's flipping and insults to the state have killed that.)

To really dig into this, you'd have to find out more about how the investigations went, how many were trivial, etc. Like the NJ one that disappeared after the election, how many started but didn't get finished. (I'm really curious about the Jefferson investigation - why no indictment? I mean, they found $90K in frozen cash in his freezer. Dragging out doesn't help anyone, except Republicans. Oh, nevermind.)

Posted by: Fides on March 9, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Don't investigate me, look over there at those bad Republicans!

Posted by: William Jefferson and his freezer on March 9, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

The national disparity is actually far more dramatic then a mere 36-30 split against the Democrats. For the period in question the Republicans controlled all the levers of national power and were in a far better position to exploit this illicitly.

If you accept the (doubtful) proposition that Republicans are no more corrupt then Democrats you would expect the numbers to be at least reversed because they had so many more opportunities to be corrupt.

Posted by: Mike on March 9, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

There just isn't the same thing for Republicans.

My state legislature and local political jursidictions are dominated by Republicans. They are notoriously corrupt, but the prosecutors also come from the Republican machine, so there is not much chance they will be investigated locally.

Posted by: Brojo on March 9, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

i really don't buy the national press/local press explanation. doesn't make sense. depending on where the corruption case is occurring, i'd expect almost the opposite. just a theory and it certainly doesn't account for such a vast discrepancy but i'm wondering if there are more dems serving at a local level than repubs. outside of bloomberg, who was a democrat, name a big-city mayor who happens to be republican. name the the last republican mayor or chicago or pittsburgh, for example.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on March 9, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP is corrupt and rotting to the core. One thing I will say about Republicans though; they have so overplayed their hand of corruption, criminality and hypocrisy that they may have committed political suicide. Here's hoping anyway (of course we must discount the 30% of the electorate who make up the Christian Taliban. No amount of corruption or illegality will dissuade those nuts).

Posted by: aqualung on March 9, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

"We believe that this tremendous disparity is politically motivated and it occurs because the local investigations occur under the radar of a diligent national press."

"Diligent". That cracks me up.

Because an administration could never pull off something so brazen and fraudulent on a national scale, not under the watchful eye of our diligent press.

Posted by: luci on March 9, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

For the latest news, hearings, legal filings and other essential documents on the politically motivated prosecutor firings, see:
"The Bush DOJ U.S. Attorney Scandal Documents."

Posted by: AngryOne on March 9, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

When Bill Clinton took office in 1993 he fired all 93 US Attorneys after this same witch hunt against Democratic state legislators occurred under Bush daddy. When the next Democratic President takes office in 2009 a repeat performance will be necessary; and we'll have to just ignore the screeching of the wingnuts.

Posted by: Bill Rudman on March 9, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

While the US attorney firing story is likely more about getting people whose minds are right into the slots affected, I wonder if this study would show the number of investigations in the Districts covered by the fired USAs. Probably mere coincidence this study shows up now.

Posted by: TJM on March 9, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Whew! This should take some of the heat of all my dalliances!

Who cares about women who are insane enough to look past my bloated flesh and take my high hard one? I confessed my sins and I've achieved BAV (Born-Again Virgin) status.

Those fuckin' Democrats are just brazenly corrupt. That's the real problem.

Posted by: Newt Gingrich on March 9, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

local investigations occur under the radar of a diligent national press

What diligent national press would that be? The one that discovered the Walter Reed problems the same time Slate did, 2 years ago?

Posted by: G.Jones on March 9, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Use of government power to harass political opponents is yet another hallmark of fascist regimes. Fuck Iran, we desperately need regime change in the United States!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on March 9, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting, but not at all surprising, as others note. Just another outrage against the American Way by the Bush Administration.

But it does bring home the point about how important it is that the Democrats win and win big in the coming presidential AND congressional races.

Posted by: buford on March 9, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

It would be interesting if someone did a follow-up to see what the relative conviction rates for the two parties are.

Posted by: Jay Goldfarb on March 9, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Chickenshit: "Doesn't this just scientifically prove that Democrats are more likely to be corrupt than Republicans?"

I don't think that word means what you think it means. (And what a rich choice of words in that one cretinous sentence.)

Posted by: Kenji on March 9, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

mhr (must have Rush): Alberto Gonzales is a member of what liberals insightfully describe as "people of color" who are generally immune from liberal criticism, probably out of compassion that they suffer the disability of too much melanin. Senator Biden referred to Gonzales to his face as "boy." Maureen Dowd called him "torture boy." Funny how liberals can stoop to intolerance and racism when it suits them.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . . .

Posted by: Google_This on March 9, 2007 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Ever imagine you'd think of the Ashcroft regime as the Good Old Days?

"Let the eagle soar!"

Cripes, to think this putz was being proffered as a SCOTUS justice. The sooner the better, on the impending AG beheading. I understand Harriet Miers has made herself available to step in.

Posted by: Trollhattan on March 9, 2007 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

As successive administrations have more or less followed the spoils system for USAs, I would be interested to see how this obviously skewed pattern of local corruption prosecutions under Bush & Gonzales stacks up against Clinton/Reno, Bush I, Reagan, etc...

It is clearly partisan, but is it unprecedented?

Posted by: Lionel Hutz, attorney-at-law on March 9, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

The behavior of the Republicans vindicates all those keen observers of human nature who, through the years, have avered that what happened in Nazi Germany is possible anywhere. Call it what you want (Authoritarianism, e.g.), there exists human flaws that, if left unchecked, can cause big trouble.

Some people cannot control their ethnocentrism. They seem to have gravitated to the Republican party.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on March 9, 2007 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm. Possible campaign finance violations by our former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, who is running for the democratic nomination in May, have just been referred to the U.S. Attorney in Louisville.

Personally, I think Henry's as guilty as sin, and I'm thrilled that this could knock him out of the top spot in the 7-candidate primary.

So if this investigation really is politically motivated, it'll be the first good thing the Usurper has ever done for Kentucky or Democrats in general.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on March 9, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

--a diligent national press, yeah, and for all those so-call diligents in press world, they want a shield law.

Ha ha.

The WP is in act of screwing itself over. A prime example of why I vote to more of them in jail.

I'm waiting for Kinsley's two cents worth. But Kinsley hasn't written for while, hope he okay.

Posted by: Cheyl on March 9, 2007 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

er that should be: A prime example of why I'd vote to more put of them in jail.

Thank you Mr. Fitz. for showing the truth about todays press member.

Posted by: Cherryl on March 9, 2007 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone have these stats for the Clinton years?

Posted by: orion on March 9, 2007 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

American Hawk used the word 'scientifically', and then so did Al. It's almost sweet how they like to use words they don't understand -- like toddlers playing the part of thinking adults. It makes me want to hug them, give them a toy...

Posted by: DNS on March 9, 2007 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

OH MY GOD, this is why the FRIED prosecutors didn't go quietly. They got the Wilson treatment, and the GOP congress members page treatment.

Gonzales grins and takes it. From the Post ...

Specter emerged from the meeting saying he still had no clear understanding why the prosecutors were dismissed. He said he instructed Gonzales to take back remarks he made in an op-ed in Wednesday's USA Today, in which he called the issue an "overblown personnel matter." Specter also asked Gonzales to do something to help remove the "significant blemish" now on the records of the fired prosecutors.

-- Josh Marshall

Oh BTW, Bush is was also been told to clean up his "no fly" list. Folks are beginning to understand that Bush was being a nasty little prick all the way.

Posted by: Cheryl on March 9, 2007 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff & Racersave, I would like to see the same things you do. But the huge disparity at the local level is an eye opener. And if the DEMS show the same kinds of figures, it needs to be known & dealt with.

My first thought would be to take the DOJ out of the administrative branch, but putting those decisions in the hands of Congress would turn out to be the same-old. Putting it with the Judicial Branch would be a Conflict of Interest. A partial solution might be to require a 60% vote by Congress to confirm the removal of a Federal Prosecutor.

What is a diligent MSM, anyway? I think they disappeared with Walter Cronkite.

Posted by: bob in fl on March 9, 2007 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

In Wisconsin the Lord High Executioner is named Biskupic. His henchpeople are Journal Communications. US Atty Biskupic is going after the governor, Democrat Jim Doyle, hammer & tongs. Attempt seems to be to criminalize donations to Democrats. Local media conglomerate doesn't think that Democrats should occupy public office. The situation here is getting desperate.

Posted by: blue guitar on March 9, 2007 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

THis is just unbelievable.

It's impeachment time.

This administration has crossed the line. They must be removed, immediately, and if not removed, paralyzed.

Posted by: dataguy on March 10, 2007 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

dataguy (databoy would be a good handle), your post could have been made any day of the last six years, and no doubt every day for the next two. Sigh.

Posted by: Kenji on March 10, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, those two professors are hired guns. If they really wanted to know the truth, they would have been able to test their so-called hypothesis very easily. If indeed the evil republican attorneys prefer to prosecute the democrats solely because of their animosity towards the dems, then one would see that a rate of convictions would be the inverse to the rate of prosecutions. In other words, if the prosecution is politically motivated (i.e. the hypothesis is correct), then the republicans who are 7 times less likely to be prosecuted should be nearly 7 times more likely to be convicted in the court of law. But the dear "professors" don't even attempt to test their hypothesis. After all - why would they try to use scientific methodology that can be reasonably expected to prove their hypothesis false? It's not like the luberals are actually in knowing the truth.

Luberals - you are pathetic. Shame on you for being sheep. Can't you think for yourself?

Posted by: gringo on March 11, 2007 at 5:37 AM | PERMALINK

Gringo, you are pathetic. Can't you come up with any better then that?

No one here is buying your mock fairness argument. Go away.

Posted by: conservatives are liars on March 11, 2007 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

>Gringo, you are pathetic. Can't you come up with >any better then that?
>No one here is buying your mock fairness >argument. Go away.

I proposed a very reasonable, well-known by scientists way to test the assertion made by the luberal professors. You could not respond to the essence of my post, so you attacked me personally. Way to go, chief. Good luberal. Very good. Keep on marching. Clearly, "you can fool some people all the time".


Posted by: gringo on March 11, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Does anyone have these stats for the Clinton years?" - orion

I've got one. He allowed his AG to appoint a special prosecutor who proceeded to spend 70 million dollars of taxpayer funds in a multi-year multi-subject investigation with the end result being a perjury and obstruction of justice charge concerning consensual oral sex with a 21 year-old woman not his wife during a politically motivated impeachment trial.

Rule of law?

Nothing new here, move along.

Posted by: freejack on March 12, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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