David Iglesias says he's shocked by the news, leaked today to the Associated Press, that the FBI is pursuing a voter-fraud investigation into ACORN just weeks before the election.
"I'm astounded that this issue is being trotted out again," Iglesias told TPMmuckraker. "Based on what I saw in 2004 and 2006, it's a scare tactic." In 2006, Iglesias was fired as U.S. attorney thanks partly to his reluctance to pursue voter-fraud cases as aggressively as DOJ wanted -- one of several U.S. attorneys fired for inappropriate political reasons, according to a recently released report by DOJ's Office of the Inspector General.
Iglesias, who has been the most outspoken of the fired U.S. attorneys, went on to say that the FBI's investigation seemed designed to inappropriately create a "boogeyman" out of voter fraud.
And he added that it "stands to reason" that the investigation was launched in response to GOP complaints. In recent weeks, national Republican figures -- including John McCain at last night's debate -- have sought to make an issue out of ACORN's voter-registration activities.
As we noted earlier, last year, Sen. Diane Feinstein publicly highlighted changes made to DOJ's election crimes manual, which lowered the bar for voter-fraud prosecutions, and made it easier to bring vote-fraud cases close to the election.
Speaking today to TPMmuckraker, Iglesias called such changes "extremely problematic."
The way in which the news was revealed today -- Associated Press sourced its report to two "senior law enforcement officials" who "spoke on condition of anonymity because Justice Department regulations forbid discussing ongoing investigations particularly so close to an election" -- is also raising eyebrows.
Both Iglesias and Bud Cummins -- another of the U.S. attorneys who, according to the IG report, was also fired for political reasons -- told TPMmuckraker that DOJ guidelines do allow US attorneys to speak publicly about an investigation, even before bringing an indictment, if it's to allay public concern over an issue.
But that certainly wouldn't cover anonymous leaks. "If you can't say it with your name on it, it's fair to say you should not be saying it," Cummins told TPMmuckraker.
Earlier this afternoon, House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI) released a letter he sent to Attorney General Michael Mukasey and FBI director Robert Mueller, which connected today's news to the U.S. attorney firings, and to recent GOP efforts to stoke fears over voter fraud.