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Hullabaloo


Friday, December 02, 2005

 
Political Grease Monkeys

by digby

If a partisan impeachment, unprecedented recall elections, bogus voter roll purges, uncheckable voting machines and Supreme Court chosen presidents didn't convince you that the Republicans are trying to undermine the fundamental electoral processes of our Democratic system, this one should lay any questions you have to rest:

Justice Department lawyers concluded that the landmark Texas congressional redistricting plan spearheaded by Rep. Tom DeLay (R) violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a previously undisclosed memo obtained by The Washington Post. But senior officials overruled them and approved the plan.

[...]

The 73-page memo, dated Dec. 12, 2003, has been kept under tight wraps for two years. Lawyers who worked on the case were subjected to an unusual gag rule. The memo was provided to The Post by a person connected to the case who is critical of the adopted redistricting map. Such recommendation memos, while not binding, historically carry great weight within the Justice Department.

[...]

The Texas case provides another example of conflict between political appointees and many of the division's career employees. In a separate case, The Post reported last month that a team was overruled when it recommended rejecting a controversial Georgia voter-identification program that was later struck down as unconstitutional by a court.

Mark Posner, a longtime Justice Department lawyer who now teaches law at American University, said it was "highly unusual" for political appointees to overrule a unanimous finding such as the one in the Texas case.

"In this kind of situation, where everybody agrees at least on the staff level . . . that is a very, very strong case," Posner said. "The fact that everybody agreed that there were reductions in minority voting strength, and that they were significant, raises a lot of questions as to why it was" approved, he said.


There have been many reports of career civil service employees leaving the government because of this behavior. If the Republicans' corruption and greed manages to lose them the congress, (and hopefully the presidency) there is going to have to be a massive investigation into who has replaced these employees to make sure that a permanent patronage machine hasn't been put in place in the Federal Government. That is, of course, what they wanted to do, but it's likely that they haven't had enough time to fully implement it.


If, on the other hand, they are not brought low by their corruption and ineptitude in the very near future, we may not get another chance to fix this. The best news I've heard all week is this NY Times article in which it's shown that the Justice Department is finally taking a close look at the crooked K Street Project:


Investigators are said to be especially interested in how Tony C. Rudy, a former deputy chief of staff to Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, and Neil G. Volz, a former chief of staff to Representative Bob Ney of Ohio, obtained lobbying positions with big firms on K Street.

The hiring pattern is "very much a part of" what prosecutors are focusing on, a person involved in the case said. Another participant confirmed that investigators were trying to determine whether aides conducted "job negotiations with Jack Abramoff" while they were in a position to help him on Capitol Hill.

Prosecutors are trying to establish that "it's not just a ticket to a ballgame, it's major jobs" that exchanged hands, the participant in the case said. Also under examination are payments to lobbyists and lawmakers' wives, including Mr. Rudy's wife, Lisa Rudy, whose firm, Liberty Consulting, worked in consultation with Mr. Abramoff, people involved in case said.

What began as an inquiry into Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff's lobbying has widened to a corruption investigation centering mainly on Republican lawmakers who came to power as part of the conservative revolution of the 1990's. At least six members of Congress are in the scope of the inquiry, with an additional 12 or so former aides being examined to determine whether they gave Mr. Abramoff legislative help in exchange for campaign donations, lavish trips and gifts.

It may be difficult for prosecutors to translate certain elements of the case into indictments. Bribery, corruption and conspiracy cases are notoriously difficult to prove. But the potential dimensions are enormous, and the investigation, at a time of turmoil for the Bush administration, threatens to add a new knot of problems for the party heading into the elections next year.



Let's hope so. The K Street project is the heart of the big money and ihnfluence machine that built the party since the 1990's.


Update:

Here's Steny Hoyer's statement on the redistricting issue.



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