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View Diary: Von Spakovsky to slip through? (107 comments)

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  •  How bad is von Spakovsky? (16+ / 0-)

    It's good when I can defer to my YearlyKos (well, I remember being there) co-panelist Dahlia Lithwick:

    Von Spakovsky currently sits on the FEC as a result of a recess appointment made by President Bush in January of 2006. Before that he served as counsel to the assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division at Justice. Von Spakovsky's Senate confirmation hearing last June was noteworthy for many oddities, not the least of which was a letter sent to the rules committee by six former career professionals in the voting rights section of the Justice Department; folks who had worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations for a period that spanned 36 years. The letter urged the committee to reject von Spakovsky on the grounds that while at DoJ, he was one of the architects of a transformation in the voting rights section from its "historic mission to enforce the nation's civil rights laws without regard to politics, to pursuing an agenda which placed the highest priority on the partisan political goals of the political appointees who supervised the Section." The authors named him as the "point person for undermining the Civil Rights Division's mandate to protect voting rights."

    Von Spakovsky's response to these charges at his confirmation hearings? "I was not the decision maker," he claimed. "I don't remember that complaint at all,'' he demurred. "It's privileged," he insisted. That's the kind of bobbing and weaving that likely cost Alberto Gonzales his job. That the same absurd testimony from von Spakovsky might be rewarded with a professional upgrade is unfathomable.

    And what was von Spakovsky trying to hide at his hearing? Why is the nation's largest civil rights coalition urging that his confirmation be rejected? Because this man was one of the generals in a years-long campaign to use what we now know to be bogus claims of runaway "vote fraud" in America to suppress minority votes. Von Spakovsky was one of the people who helped melt down and then reshape the Justice Department into an instrument aimed at diminishing voter participation for partisan ends.

    Von Spakovsky's lasting—and perhaps most symbolic—contribution to the state of the Justice Department today is highlighted by one other extracurricular: his efforts to undermine Minnesota U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger, who recently departed Justice on his own steam. As Tom Hamburger reported in the Los Angeles Times this summer, Heffelfinger became concerned when Minnesota's secretary of state directed that tribal ID cards could not be used for voter identification by Native Americans living off reservations. Heffelfinger wanted the Justice Department to investigate whether that directive might prove discriminatory. According to Joseph Rich, former head of the Voting Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division (who had served as a career lawyer there for 37 years before stepping down in 2005), it was Hans von Spakovsky who effectively shut down the DoJ investigation before it began.

    Three months after expressing his concern over Native American vote suppression, Heffelfinger's name showed up on a 2004 list of U.S. attorneys to be fired and replaced. In her testimony before the Senate judiciary committee about the U.S. attorney firings, White House liaison Monica Goodling mumbled something about hearing Heffelfinger criticized for "spending an excessive amount of time" on Native American issues. Somehow, protecting the voting rights of minority voters had become antithetical to the mission of DoJ.

    •  A true travesty. (5+ / 0-)

      I know some people who lost their jobs because of Hans; lots more who got so demoralized that they retired; and some who ended up in therapy because of this man.  He was the number one culprit for the politicization of the Section 5 review process, which is supposed to protect minority voting rights.

      That he should be allowed to slip through, regardless of the cost, is a complete travesty.

      Click here and here for the latest on the scandal in the Civil Rights Division.

      by IceJustIce on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 02:39:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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