Thursday, May 31, 2007

I Am Afraid Monica's Freudian Slip Is Showing or How Rachel Paulose Can't Catch A Break.

God I love this job. I have been following the really brain dead public relations campaign to rehabilitate the fading career of Rachel Poulose. Rachel is a young Republican with a wonderful resume. She seems to have some problem with the "little people." Shortly after she took the job of US Attorney in Minneapolis, four of her top aides got so fed up with her imperious ways they took demotions rather than spend time working with her directly. Instead of learning the obvious life lessons from that early debacle, she apparently has decided to fight back. As near as I can tell she has surrounded herself with a truly clueless PR posse that has done an absolutely crappy job. For example, last monday she tried to reintroduce herself just days before Monica Goodling was going to testify. That reintroduction didn't go very well. Neither did Katherine Kersten's followup whine.

Luckily for Rachel, Monica didn't have a lot to say about her, and it was mostly good. Monica did make some unfortunate comments about Rachel's predecessor, Tom Heffelfinger. Heffelfinger was the very model of a loyal Republican US Attorney right up to last week. All through the US Attorney scandal, even after he was found to be on the list of attorneys to be fired, he insisted that his resignation was entirely voluntary.

As has been typical of the Gonzales Justice Department, Monica found a way to really anger the former US Attorney. She criticized his professional work. As will be revealed below, the Clucking Stool thinks she might have suffered what we used to call a Freudian slip.

In response to a question from Representative Keith Ellison, Monica said, "There were some concerns that he (Heffelfinger) spent an extraordinary amount of time as the leader of the Native American subcommittee of the AGAC (Attorney General's Advisory Committee)."

Heffelfinger replied by telling KARE11 News he was "extraordinarily outraged" to hear his work criticized. Heffelfinger was proud of his work with Native Americans. He told the AP, again quoting KARE11,

"I did spent a lot of time on it," Heffelfinger said of the American Indian issue. "That's what I was instructed to do" by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. Given the higher rates of violence suffered by American Indians, Heffelfinger said, the time was warranted, but it didn't take away from other priorities.

"I had to work hard, but I was comfortable with the mix of my local responsibilities and my Native American responsibilities," said Heffelfinger, who oversaw his office's investigation into the 2005 shooting that claimed 10 lives on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in far northern Minnesota.
Throughout the US Attorney scandal there is a common theme, a theme most of the loyal Bushies like Sampson, Goodling and their boss have yet to figure out--you just don't tell a proud professional that the work he is proudest of is crap, not unless you really want to have your hat handed to you.

This morning the LA Times carried a story by Tom Hamburger, Times Staff Writer, and former Minnesota native, tying Heffelfinger's good work on behalf of Native Americans to another overarching theme of the Gonzales justice department--the ongoing Republican campaign to suppress the minority vote. Yep, Heffelfinger refused to take part in a campaign to suppress the Native American vote, a campaign that involves two of our old favorites, Brad Schlozman and Hans von Spakovsky.

As you will recall Von Spakovsky and Schlozman are voting suppression specialists linked to Republican voter suppression campaigns in Missouri and Georgia. Since most poor people of color are Democrats, from the point of view of Brad and Hans suppressing the vote of poor people of color is a good thing.

The basic Republican voter suppression plan, as advanced in Missouri and Georgia, is for local Republicans to plant the frightening image in the minds of the local media and the general public of thousands of poor black people showing up at the polls to vote Democratic dozens of times.

For a lot of technical reasons the kind of "voter fraud" that concerns Republicans is virtually non-existent. That doesn't stop the patented Republican voter suppression campaign. The Republican solution to the terrible, but non-existant, problem of "voter fraud" is to require each voter to present a special and expensive voter ID card at the polling place on election day. Republican legislatures eagerly enact such laws. Members of the local media write puff pieces singing the praises of Republicans who have solved a truly frightening problem.

Since poor people can't afford to pay a lot for their voter or state ID, or they might not realize they need one until the last minute, voter suppression of the poor Democratic minority is almost a sure thing.

Ordinarily, the United States Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division is all over such state statutes. After all poll taxes and the like are illegal under Federal law, and have been since Jim Crow days. Enter Schlozman and Von Spakovsky. Their job was to overrule or otherwise defang the career professionals in the civil rights division. Theirs was the most successful part of the Republican voter suppression campaign in the last couple of elections. In both, the Civil Rights Division, now largely manned by loyal Bushies, was essentially neutered. Fortunately, opponents didn't need DoJ help to convince the courts that the Missouri and Georgia laws were illegal.

There are 32,000 Native Americans living in the Saint Paul area alone. The ID they use in their daily lives is the ID card issued by their tribe. It is widely thought that a lot of those Native Americans vote for Democrats.

According to LA Times:
Citing requirements in a new state election law, Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer directed that tribal ID cards could not be used for voter identification by Native Americans living off reservations. Heffelfinger and his staff feared that the ruling could result in discrimination against Indian voters. Many do not have driver's licenses or forms of identification other than the tribes' photo IDs.
Heffelfinger had one of his staff e-mail the Civil Rights Division. It was made clear that Heffelfinger was very concerned about Kiffmeyer's directive and believed something needed to be done. The Times article continues
About three months after Heffelfinger's office raised the issue of tribal ID cards and nonreservation Indians in an October 2004 memo, his name appeared on a list of U.S. attorneys singled out for possible firing.

"I have come to the conclusion that his expressed concern for Indian voting rights is at least part of the reason that Tom Heffelfinger was placed on the list to be fired," said Joseph D. Rich, former head of the voting section of the Justice Department's civil rights division. Rich, who retired in 2005 after 37 years as a career department lawyer — 24 of them in Republican administrations — was closely involved in the Minnesota ID issue
Rich is the lawyer who received the e-mails from a member of Heffelfinger's staff. Rich started working the case. According to Rich Schlozman and Von Spakovsky promptly placed impossible conditions on the conduct of the investigation effectively squelching it.

According to the Star Tribune, one of Rachel Paulose's first acts after appointment was "to remove Lewis, who had written the 2004 e-mails to Washington expressing concern about American Indian voting rights." I wonder if that's when her management problems began?

UPDATE: I just remembered Hans Von Spakosky has a confirmation hearing scheduled for June 13. With this story breaking right now, maybe he is the guy who can't catch a break?