Saturday, August 18, 2007
But his legacy lives on.
Rove gave us "vote-caging", a secret program whereby the Republicans suppressed the votes of low income, active duty military, and minority citizens in key states by challenging their registration. The BBC broke this story after the Republican National Committee inadvertently sent spreadsheet documents loaded with the names of voters to be challenged to the wrong email address.
Rove's protégé, Tim Griffin, was given the task of compiling some of the caging lists (he was supremely qualified, having removed the voting rights of 74,000 citizens before the 2004 election.) The RNC sent official letters out to certain groups of people. When a letter was returned undelivered, the voter's name was added to the caging lists, ready to be challenged.
Who was given this special treatment?
Overwhelmingly African Americans, Hispanics, registered Democrats -- the sort who don't normally vote Republican. And why would the letters fail to reach these voters? Because they were sent to soldiers fighting in Iraq, the homeless, and students. You aren't going to be able to do anything about your absentee ballot going AWOL if you're dodging bombs and bullets during Operation Valiant Patriot Freedom Eagle Storm.
According to Professor Michael McDonald, an expert on elections statistics at George Mason University, the chance that the RNC caging lists reflect a random sample of the population is less than 1 in 10,000.
So, to quote Bananarama, it ain't what you do but the way that you do it. Because that's what gets results.
But of course caging lists were only one of the tactics used. In 2000 Jeb Bush purged 97,000 black citizens from Florida's electoral register on the grounds that they were "felons." Jeb's brother, George W Bush won in Florida by a margin of 537, and by doing so won the US presidency. Defeated, Al Gore went on to make a horror movie about icebergs.
Checks made after the election revealed that of the 97,000 excluded voters, not one of them turned out to be a felon. Not one.
To err once is human. To err twice time is dumb. To err 97,000 times is suspicious.
In 2004 more than 3 million votes were cast but not counted. 1,389,231 spoiled ballots were dumped (mostly due to problems with punches, scanners, and touch screens in minority precincts). Half a million absentee ballots were not counted. 1,090,729 voters were issued with "provisional ballots" after they turned up at the "wrong precinct" or it was discovered they'd been wrongly purged from the voting rolls. These provisional ballots were then thrown away, uncounted.
88% of all these uncounted votes were cast by minority voters.
Jesse Jackson noted, "In Philadelphia and in Michigan, Republican operatives admitted that it was their job to suppress the minority vote. In Ohio, the partisan state election head tried to exclude newly registered voters, but was slapped down by the courts."
This is how Karl Rove won two elections for George W Bush. Unfortunately for Rove, such tactics are illegal. Targeting voters where race is a factor is against the Voting Rights Act of 1965. One wonders what would happen if the Justice Department decided to investigate ‑‑ that great US bastion of Law is supposed to be non-partisan, after all.
In December 2006 the Administration decided to do a spot of spring cleaning in the Justice Department. At a request from Karl Rove, the Department fired eight of its US attorneys, replacing them with ‑‑ to use the words of Kyle Sampson, the Attorney General's chief of staff ‑‑ more "loyal Bushies." They were able to do this because of a provision the President slipped into the reauthorization of the Patriot Act earlier that year, which allowed the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, to appoint U.S attorneys without Senate approval.
Who is Alberto Gonzales? He's an old friend of the President who was given the job of Attorney General after Bush nominated him. He helped Bush pen the Patriot Act. And he is currently the subject of legal proceedings started in Germany for his alleged involvement in prisoner abuse by writing controversial legal opinions.
One of the sacked attorneys, David Iglesias of New Mexico (that guy portrayed by Tom Cruise in the film A Few Good Men), believes he and the others lost their jobs because they had refused to launch federal investigations and prosecute individuals purely for partisan reasons.
Iglesias is a Republican, but when it came to the law, it appears he wasn't enough of a "loyal Bushie." To lend credibility to their vote-purging operations, the Republicans wanted to prosecute vote fraud cases. Unfortunately they couldn't find any cases in which a crime had been committed. Iglesias said that Pat Rogers, former general counsel to the New Mexico Republican Party, pressured him several times to bring voter fraud prosecutions where little evidence existed. Iglesias refused to cooperate, despite the fact that the prosecutions would have been hugely beneficial to the Republican Party. After Iglesias's dismissal, Pat Rogers became a candidate to replace him.
The White House denies any wrongdoing. But emails subpoenaed from top administrators cast doubt on the official statement. Karl Rove brought up the idea of firing US attorneys in 2005, as did Alberto Gonzales, back when he was still White House counsel.
Remember Tim Griffin? The guy Rove put in charge of compiling those illegal caging lists? Well the Justice Department spring clean worked out well for him, initially. Thanks to a word from Karl Rove, Griffin was appointed US prosecutor for Arkansas, replacing Bud Cummins (who later testified that he was warned by a senior Justice Department official that "fired prosecutors should remain quiet about their dismissals.")
Perpetrator of vote fraud becomes a prosecutor of vote fraud.
Not quite. The investigation into the sackings is still ongoing, but has been met with massive resistance from the Whitehouse. The US Senate issued subpoenas against Rove and former White House counsel Harriet Miers, but Bush ordered them not to testify, citing executive privilege. The President used the same privilege to stop former White House political director Sara Taylor from answering questions.
Alberto Gonzales did testify before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Asked about why the attorneys were sacked and who was behind it, he supplied the following gems of information:
He is now facing calls for a perjury investigation.
John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee investigating the firing of US attorneys, turned his sights on Griffin. On the very day that Conyers asked the BBC to hand over their evidence of Mr Griffin's involvement in caging voters, Tim Griffin resigned as US attorney for Arkansas. He had this to say.
Looking at the video, anyone would think he'd been cheated out of an inalienable right.
And now Rove is going too. The President will soon be without a brain. No change there, then.