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Tilting at Windmills

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May 31, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

PURGEGATE UPDATE....Tom Hamburger of the LA Times writes today about Tom Heffelfinger, one of the U.S. Attorneys whose name turned up on a list of potential firees a few weeks ago. But why was this "embodiment of a tough Republican prosecutor" targeted? What had he done?

Part of the reason, government documents and other evidence suggest, is that he tried to protect voting rights for Native Americans.

....Citing requirements in a new state election law, Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer directed that tribal ID cards could not be used for voter identification by Native Americans living off reservations. Heffelfinger and his staff feared that the ruling could result in discrimination against Indian voters. Many do not have driver's licenses or forms of identification other than the tribes' photo IDs.

....Newly obtained documents and interviews with government officials suggest that what displeased some of his superiors and GOP politicians was...his actions on Indian voting.

About three months after Heffelfinger's office raised the issue of tribal ID cards and nonreservation Indians in an October 2004 memo, his name appeared on a list of U.S. attorneys singled out for possible firing.

Needless to say, this is yet more evidence that (a) "voter fraud" was indeed behind much of the U.S. Attorney purge, and (b) it was almost certainly directed from somewhere within Karl Rove's domain. It's the political operation in the White House, after all, that's obsessed with suppressing Democratic-leaning voters by trumping up voter fraud charges whenever it can.

Of course, it's worth keeping in mind that just because voter fraud was a big part of Purgegate, that doesn't mean that was its sole purpose. It looks to me like maybe half of the fired USAs were targeted for reasons related to the voter fraud crusade, while some of the others were targeted for other reasons. Heck, some of them might even have been targeted just because they weren't doing a good job. Stranger things have happened.

Kevin Drum 5:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (53)

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The reasons were all the same, although the details differ: those USAs who were willing to use their office to advance the partisan goals of the GOP, whether by bogus voter fraud investigations or other means, kept their jobs; those who were ethical and refused to play that game got canned.

Posted by: anonymous on May 31, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

But why was this "embodiment of a tough Republican prosecutor" targeted?

Monica Goodling has already explained the reason he was fired was because he spent too much time on American Indian issues rather than important issues. Wouldn't it have been better if he concentrated on terrorism instead? Or immigration or child pornography? I think so. You might disagree, but it is certainly within the power of George W Bush or Alberto Gonzales to appoint US attorneys who have the same priority as the administration rather than someone who refuses to follow Bush's priorities on what is most important. That is why it was correct to fire Heffelfinger.

Link

"The Justice Department had concerns about the amount of time that former U.S. attorney for Minnesota Tom Heffelfinger spent on American Indian issues, the department's former White House liaison testified Wednesday."

Posted by: Al on May 31, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it 'Hilfiger'? Anyway, he should have stuck to yuppie fashion design.

Posted by: lampwick on May 31, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

So, Al, ensuring that American Indians have the right to vote is not an important issue?

Posted by: DJ on May 31, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

One of them was indeed targeted for not doing a good job, Kevin Ryan of San Francisco. That's why he's been left out of the discussion, last I read about his situation. All the others, without exception, are under a cloud.

Posted by: djangone on May 31, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the GOP -- the party of the poll tax.

Posted by: Disputo on May 31, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Did everyone hear that Fort Drum (no relation to Kevin Drum) is getting so many KIAs in Iraq that they are switching from individual memorial ceremonies to monthly mass memorials?

Posted by: Disputo on May 31, 2007 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Al, Monica Goodling has already explained the reason he was fired was because he spent too much time on American Indian issues rather than important issues.


Well, if he's going to be that way about it. . .

Posted by: cld on May 31, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo........I saw it as being Ft. Lewis,Wash.Might be Ft. Drum too.......Might be all of them.

Posted by: R.L. on May 31, 2007 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

It's not failing to investigate vote fraud, it's failing to carry out a policy of vote suppression. I think you're confusing tactics and strategy. (Mea culpa -- I'm hoping the Ds get a little downer and dirtier about hanging negative frames on Rs. No more knives at gunfights!)

Posted by: MaryCh on May 31, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

"All the others, without exception, are under a cloud."

Posted by: djangone on May 31, 2007

None of the others are under a cloud. They were all doing excellent work. The people who fired them are under a cloud. It turns out they replaced Tom Heffelfinger with a young Yale graduate who has delusions of being the first Indian-American female Republican President. Don't belief me ask her friend Monica Goodling.

The sad thing is Rachel Paulose couldn't manage a pee-wee league soccer team, let alone a real live US Attorney's office and isn't smart enough to ask more experienced people how.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 31, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Will I be the only one to question the long term effects of this stocking of the Justice Department with republican ideologues?

Here's the ball...

Posted by: slanted tom on May 31, 2007 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Heck, some of them might even have been targeted just because they weren't doing a good job."

Have you seen the slightest evidence, in this or any sphere of government, that this administration is concerned with doing a good job?

That is, unless "good job" is defined as advancing Republican party goals. I mean, really; from Katrina and FEMA, to Iraq and the Department of Education, doing a good job, in the sense the rest of us know the term, is simply not a concern.

Posted by: jrw on May 31, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

I think it is all about total lawlessness of the GOP. Read this article:

Greg Palast, Author of Armed Madhouse, on How Rove May Have Already Stolen the 2008 Election
Submitted by BuzzFlash on Thurs, 05/17/2007 - 4:06pm. Interviews
A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW

"People ask me: Are they going to steal the 2008 election? No, they’ve already stolen the 2008 election. We still have a chance of swiping it back, but the reason I’ve expanded and put out the new edition of Armed Madhouse is to tell you how they will steal in 2008, and what to do about it. That’s one of the main new things. Plus a special chapter on New Orleans and my bust down there..."

Well worth reading.


Posted by: consider wisely always on May 31, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

It is totally about corruption. And it is outrageous. From the article that you link:

"On his way out, Heffelfinger recommended that Joan Humes, the No. 2 person in the office, be named interim U.S. attorney. But Humes was rejected by the Justice Department — in part, Goodling testified, because she was known to be a "liberal."

The job went to a conservative Justice Department employee, Rachel Paulose. She had Ivy League credentials, brief experience as a prosecutor, and as a private lawyer had helped bring election lawsuits on behalf of the Minnesota GOP. She declined to comment for this article.

One of Paulose's first acts in office was to remove Lewis, who had written the 2004 e-mails to Washington expressing concern about Native American voting rights in Minnesota, from overseeing voting rights cases.

For his part, Heffelfinger said, he took Goodling at her word and believed that he was on the termination lists for his zeal in confronting problems facing Indian country...."

It is OUTRAGEOUS.

Posted by: consider wisely always on May 31, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

But after all, anyone who wouldn't vote Republican can't be a real American. Therefore, by simple logic, democrat voter = fraudulent voter. Am I right, egbert? Al?

Posted by: thersites on May 31, 2007 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone else get an annoying popup on Washingtonmonthly that says:

"This page requires AC Active RunActiveContent.js."

Posted by: anonymous on May 31, 2007 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

TPM has been all over this for weeks. Not that I'm not glad to see the LAT piece, too.

Posted by: shortstop on May 31, 2007 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

We should stop calling it "voter fraud," even in quotes, and start calling it "voter suppression."

Posted by: kc on May 31, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo: "Did everyone hear that Fort Drum (no relation to Kevin Drum) is getting so many KIAs in Iraq that they are switching from individual memorial ceremonies to monthly mass memorials?"

I hadn't heard that, but it doesn't surprise me.

We just passed a grim milestone here in Honolulu yesterday -- the death toll of Hawaii-based military personnel in Iraq just passed 200.

I still vividly remember January 26, 2005, the day when we lost 27 K-Bay Marines when their CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter went down in western Iraq. The collective pain felt that week in Kailua, where Kaneohe Bay MCB is located, was palpable.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on May 31, 2007 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

We should stop calling it "voter fraud," even in quotes, and start calling it "voter suppression."


Or at least call it 'fake voter fraud'.

To distinguish it from the actual electoral fraud Republicans habitually perpetrate.

Posted by: cld on May 31, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

*Wouldn't it have been better if he concentrated on terrorism instead? Or immigration or child pornography?*

He did focus on Bush's priorities. He was a good, strong GOP soldier. But he spent more time on Indian voting issues than Kiffmeyer and other MN GOP locals were happy with. That was his sin.

No different than New Mexico or elsewhere. The pattern alone implicates the White House.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on May 31, 2007 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Link to the Fort Drum story.

Posted by: Disputo on May 31, 2007 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White, 3/5/07:
"However, throughout modern history, my understanding is, you did not change the U.S. attorney during an administration, unless there was some evidence of misconduct or other really quite significant cause to do so."

Misconduct and other really quite significant causes are absolutely absent.
DOJ representatives were clearly unable to present such findings.

It is partisan political corruption, the depth of which we can probably just marginally fathom...

Posted by: consider wisely always on May 31, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Given that he was appointed head of the US Attorney sub-committee on Indian Affairs at the request of the Attorney General, it seems implausible that he would be fired for spending too much time on Native American issues. Most likely it was the work product, not the time allocation that got him fired.

Posted by: Neal on May 31, 2007 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

We can't stop with the charade.

It was merely (a) "voter fraud" but KEEPING anyone voteing for Dems from voting.

They could have care less about real case of voter fraud. Only cases that allowed Dems to vote.

This purgegate was directed at attorneys that prosecuted Republican congressman doing things illegal while not prosecuting Dems in office for fabricated reasons.

Bush, Cheney and Karl Rove had a war going on against Dems and their voters. Bush wanted to smear Dems and keep liberals from voting.

Posted by: Me_again on May 31, 2007 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

oops, I mean "we can stop with charade."

Jeebus, I mean, after Ms. Valerie Plame got smeared by this nasty administration, everyone should know what Bush's game is: It's smear game.

Bush tries to destory people JUST like Joesph McCarthy did.

Posted by: Me-again on May 31, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

You are right Neal it was his work product. He worked to make sure native Americans could vote. If he had worked to make sure they couldn't Paulose would still be in Washington polishing her resume.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 31, 2007 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Neal: "Most likely it was the work product, not the time allocation that got him fired."

You have any evidence of that?

I didn't think so.

Why don't you just read the following opening paragraph from the Los Angeles Times article on question, and then decide whether or not you really wish to stand by your statement:

"For more than 15 years, clean-cut, square-jawed Tom Heffelfinger was the embodiment of a tough Republican prosecutor. Named U.S. attorney for Minnesota in 1991, he won a series of high-profile white-collar crime and gun and explosives cases. By the time Heffelfinger resigned last year, his office had collected a string of awards and commendations from the Justice Department."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on May 31, 2007 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Heck, some of them might even have been targeted just because they weren't doing a good job. Stranger things have happened."

Yeah, it's "possible", but you have to wonder if Sampson and Goodling would have been capable of recognizing whether or not one the U.S. Attorney's had been doing an inadequate job.

Posted by: TK on May 31, 2007 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, I just realized that Sampson and Goodling say they weren't the ones who came up with the list... so who was it, again, who came up with the list?

Posted by: TK on May 31, 2007 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Ralph Vienna on May 31, 2007 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

TK, I believe the answer to your question is Karl Rove.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 31, 2007 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

In other words, he got in trouble for not enforcing the law.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on May 31, 2007 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

They stole the 2000 Fl election by disqualifying a LOT of Dem voters by fraudulant and "legal but unethical" means. I have lived in Blue states and Red states. The Democrats make it easy to vote. The Republicans make it as difficult as possible. As Republican policies become increasingly unpopular, they have to resort to ever more outrageous methods to hold onto power. Just look at the 'wrong track' poll numbers.

Posted by: bakho on May 31, 2007 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Heck, some of them might have been targeted because they weren't doing a good job."

Useful idiot, thy name is Kevin Drum.

Posted by: dick tuck on May 31, 2007 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

I visited Minneapolis recently and this was big news there two weeks ago. Heffelfinger was respected by Publicans and Democrats alike. A bright, hard-working, well-respected man. This case dramatizes how far out of the mainstream people like Rove, Bush and Gonzalez are. Pure partisan nutcases, one and all.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 31, 2007 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

It's good to bring up the votescam/suppression thing again. What's up with all the rest of it?

Posted by: Neil B. on May 31, 2007 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Two names - Carol Lamm, Duke Cunningham.
The other side of the coin.

Posted by: jay boilswater on May 31, 2007 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Heck, some of them might even have been targeted just because they weren't doing a good job.

Only be replaced by rookies like Rachel Paulose? I love this blog, so I hate to have to ask things like this, but Kevin, are you high?

Posted by: kth on May 31, 2007 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

"In other words, he got in trouble for not enforcing the law."

Nope, he got in trouble for refusing to break the law.

Posted by: PaulB on May 31, 2007 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, Christ! Kevin. Yet again you expose your idiocy in terms of common sense.

not only that, but I'll go with dick tuck and kth. This is way old news in the mid-west, and, I thought, the rest of the nation would have been aware of this mis-direction of policy.

Obviously not.

Heffelfinger targetted


MN bar

You really do lead one to believe that California and its occupants are really out there. Yes, you are!

Posted by: notthere on June 1, 2007 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

I just have to say I love how we never actually get to the root of any problem.

It can be done. We can root these people out!

We can embarass representatives to truth.

Can't we?

Posted by: notthere on June 1, 2007 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

Earlier Heffelfinger:

Heffelfinger resignation, Feb 14th, 2006.


Rep. Ellison, May 8th.


Sen. Coleman, Rep. Klobuchar call for Gonzales resignation, May 17th.

No, you weren't listening, Kevin. Too busy stroking cats.

Posted by: notthere on June 1, 2007 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

To all the clueless folks taking Kevin to task for this:

Heck, some of them might even have been targeted just because they weren't doing a good job.

I refer you to the earlier thread about sarcasm.

Posted by: Disputo on June 1, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

Earlier Heffelfinger:

Heffelfinger resignation, Feb 14th, 2006.


Rep. Ellison, May 8th.

No, you weren't listening, Kevin. Too busy stroking cats.

Posted by: notthere on June 1, 2007 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

I don't understand that if I put three links on a post it gets hung up and never posted, but someone can copy and post half a page of drivel they could have linked to.

Want to explain?

So, to continue . . .


Sen. Coleman, Rep. Klobuchar call for Gonzales resignation, May 17th.

No, you weren't listening, Kevin. Too busy stroking cats.

More than 2 weeks behind the news.

Posted by: notthere on June 1, 2007 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

Disputo, that would be nice if you could take it out of context. However, the content in front and behind makes sarcasm a hard defence:

"It looks to me like maybe half of the fired USAs were targeted for reasons related to the voter fraud crusade, while some of the others were targeted for other reasons. Heck, some of them might even have been targeted just because they weren't doing a good job. Stranger things have happened.

Seems a pretty straight forward statement. Maybe Kevin should be more careful. Careless sarcasm does not come across in written form rarely failing when spoken.

Or pderhaps you know more about KD than we do.

Posted by: notthere on June 1, 2007 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

Al: "Wouldn't it have been better if he concentrated on terrorism instead?"

Well, if Monica Goodling said so... I mean, whos tougher on terrorism than she is, eh soldier? And what could matter more in such a vulnerable state as Minnesota?

Did daddy give you a cookie yet today?

Posted by: Kenji on June 1, 2007 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Will give Kevin the benefit of a doubt about the sarcasm - Used it a couple of months ago, and someone thought I was a wingnut troll.

But, if Dan Barlett failed in trying to raise Shrub for fourteen years, what chance does he have with his four kids?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on June 1, 2007 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

My comment earlier related to "work product" was intended to convey that Heffelfinger's work product did not advance the Bush agenda and made the Bush administration uncomfortable, NOT that his work product was inferior. It was because his work product was counterproductive to what the Bush people wanted that he was placed on the firing list. My main point was that a large part of his work product was supposed to deal with Indian Affairs through his leadership of the sub-committee, so the fact that he spent time on his designated responsiblities makes it an implausible reason for firing.

Posted by: Neal on June 1, 2007 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

It's not implausible to Al--unless the talking points change tomorrow.

Posted by: Kenji on June 1, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

look what happened to Lam...after she was fired for doing a lousy job using "loyal bushie" standards...


Bar association gives ex-U.S. attorney Lam 'prestigious' award

By: SCOTT MARSHALL - Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- Carol Lam, one of eight former U.S. attorneys across the country whose dismissals have ignited a political firestorm and calls for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, has been named outstanding attorney of the year by the San Diego County Bar Association, the organization announced Wednesday afternoon.

4/25/07

http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2007/04/26/news/sandiego/11_22_794_25_07.txt

Posted by: mr. irony on June 1, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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