House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers is hot on the trail of Gonzalez and the US Attorney scandal. Today he and other members of the Committee demanded documents related to the prosecution of prominent Democrats.
Our investigation into the U.S. Attorneys scandal, however, has raised serious concerns about efforts to undermine this basic principle. Because of these concerns, and in order to further our investigation, we ask that you provide us with certain critical documents and information relating to U.S. Attorney's offices that may have initiated prosecutions against public officials and others based on their political affiliation.
the full press release:
For Immediate Release
(Washington, DC)- Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Reps. Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Artur Davis (D-AL), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, asking him to provide documents and information about several prominent prosecutions and convictions of Democratic officials or operatives across the country. The committee is exploring claims that former Alabama Democratic Governor Don Siegelman's recent conviction, among others, may have been part of a pattern of selective, political prosecutions by a number of U.S. Attorneys across the country.
In the letter, the lawmakers cite the Siegelman case; the recently overturned conviction of Wisconsin state official Georgia Thompson; and the prosecution of Dr. Cyril Wecht, a coroner in Pennsylvania, whose trial was set in October 2006, shortly before congressional elections.
No doubt a couple of comments will appear here shortly telling Conyers and the others that they need to stop sending letters and start introducing and hearing the articles of impeachment. No doubt people are sick and tired of the slow and steady deliberation that is apparent in the method of the Judiciary chair. No doubt Chairman Conyers hears all this from the gallery and conducts himself accordingly. No doubt that the AG will again deny access to the documents sought today.
We can only hope that the results will justify the means. Impeachment, censure, inherent contempt,...hopefully not more stalemate.
....back to today's letter:
Evidence suggests that at least some of the nine terminated U.S. Attorneys were forced
out due, in part, to their reluctance to pursue charges against Democratic officials, or their
willingness to move forward in investigating or prosecuting Republican officials. On the other
hand, while a number of other U.S. Attorneys were considered for termination, most were
retained and described as "loyal Bushies." During the course of our investigation, moreover,
serious allegations have been made that some U.S. Attorneys who were not terminated, engaged
in selective and improper targeting of Democrats for prosecution.
The letter cites an academic study that found Democrats were 7 times as likely to face criminal charges from the Bush Justice Dept.
The study's authors found that of the 375 cases they identified, 10 involved independents, 67 involved Republicans, and 298 involved democrats.
Cases cited in theletter
"The 2006 conviction of Alabama's former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman for
bribery, conspiracy, and mail fraud has raised serious concerns."
"The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, citing "evidence [that] is beyond
thin," threw out the federal conviction of Georgia Thompson, a Wisconsin state
procurement officer.I3 The office of the U.S. Attorney in Wisconsin, Steven Biskupic,
had won a jury conviction of Ms. Thompson, claiming the career civil servant
impermissibly awarded a contract to a travel agency whose director was a political
contributor to Democratic Governor Jim Doyle."
"The prosecution of Dr. Cyril Wecht in the Western District of Pennsylvania by U.S.
Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan has also engendered controversy. It has been alleged that
the case of Dr. Wecht, a prominent 75-year old Democrat who was the coroner in
Allegheny County, is indicative of other prosecutions in the Western District - since
2001, the U.S. Attorney has never indicted a Republican official, and has only prosecuted
officeholders who are democrats."
While the above cases are by no means an exhaustive list of all alleged instances of
politically-motivated prosecutions or lack of prosecutions, we believe that learning the truthabout these three prosecutions is an important step in the process of restoring the Department of Justice's credibility and reputation for impartial justice.