Sunday, April 22, 2007

US attorneys who investigate Republicans have been pushed out

The State of Missouri has long had a system in which some driver's license offices were operated by private contractors rather than by the state itself. This has been a system of patronage, allowing the Governor to give his political friends control of these offices, some of which gross as much as $700,000 a year. But according to the Springfield Business Journal this was not good enough for Matt Blunt, the current Governor. This has resulted in an FBI investigation.
Jack Cardetti, Missouri Democratic Party spokesman, said Blunt improperly gave his political supporters control of the state’s 183 driver’s license offices during his administration’s mid-2005 privatization initiative. [Snip]

The FBI probe may validate Cardetti’s accusation that Blunt abused his power by forming a system of umbrella companies established through Kansas City law firm Lathrop & Gage LC to run the state’s licensing network.

Cardetti speculates that Blunt’s scheme is to line his own pockets with revenues from the license offices through mysterious funding channels.
This FBI investigation was being supervised by Todd Graves, U.S. Attorney for Western Missouri. From Fired Up Missouri we get more of the story, by way of the recent DoJ document dumps.
In a January 9, 2006 email from DOJ Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson to White House Counsel Harriet Miers, he outlines U.S. Attorneys who are targets for ouster. Two of the names in the email have been redacted from the version released by DOJ to Congressional investigators.

In the email, he also suggests that those listed should be given the chance to leave on their own so that they can "save face."

None of the above obstacles are insuperable. First, a limited number of U.S. Attorneys could be targeted for removal and replacement, mitigating the shock to the system that would result from an across-the-board firing. Second, the Department of Justices Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) could work quietly with targeted U.S. Attorneys to encourage them to leave government service voluntarily; this would allow targeted U.S. Attorneys to find work in the private sector and “save face” regarding the reason for leaving office, both in the Department of Justice Community and in their local legal communities.

In March, Graves abruptly resigned his position as U.S. Attorney, saying he wanted to get more involved in the 2008 presidential election, a project we have heard nothing about since.

In April, when Sampson presented an updated list of targeted U.S. Attorneys, he makes reference to the fact that two of the names included in his original list of targets for ouster have already left government service. [Snip]

In the intervening period, only three U.S. Attorneys left office, and one of them went on to become a U.S. Magistrate, so clearly, Todd Graves was one of the redacted names.
So it looks like Todd Graves was removed because he was investigating the corruption of a Republican Governor. But like Debra Yang, he went quietly into the private sector.

It is interesting that the January 9, 2006 email to Harriet Miers and Bill Kelly (both on the White House staff) lays out a quiet way to fire the non-political U.S. Attorneys. Two conclusions can be drawn from this email. First, the White House knew exactly what was going on. Harriet Miers was the Counsel to the President. Second, something must have happened to cause the Department of Justice to change from this quiet and gradual method of firing U.S. Attorneys. That "something" was probably the shock of the November 2006 election returns. For the Democrats to gain control of the Senate was a real long shot going into November, yet they did. What the White House and the Republicans had been doing to win elections was clearly not enough, so they had to step up their actions.

So they bribed Debra Yang to quit, and fired the U.S. Attorneys removed in the Pearl Harbor Day Massacre.

But doing it all at once exposed their plan. The current imbroglio with Alberto Gonzales would not have occurred if the DoJ had not fired so many U.s. Attorneys all at once. Even then it was a near thing. The mainstream media was going to drop the issue, but Talking Point Memo kept picking at it until became clearly a lot more than just a "minor personnel issue."

The above report and analysis is still just a part of the tip of the iceberg. This just points the direction we need to be investigating.

If anyone has material on other U.S. Attorneys beside those in the Pearl Harbor Day Massacre, Debra Yang and Tod Graves, please email me or leave a comment.

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