Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Sneering Alberto Gonzales To John Conyers--I Won't Let My Boy, John Tanner, Talk , See, And You Can't Make Me

Yesterday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler postponed a scheduled oversight hearing on the Justice Department's Voting Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division because the Department refused to make Voting Section Chief John Tanner available to testify. The hearing had been scheduled for July 17 at 10 A.M.

As usual Conyers, this time joined by Nadler, sat right down and wrote Alberto a letter.

The Honorable Alberto Gonzales
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

The Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties scheduled an oversight hearing on the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division (CRT) for July 17th. We received an e-mail message on July 12th from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legislative Affairs informing the Committee of the Department’s decision to send a Deputy Assistant Attorney General to testify instead of John Tanner, the Voting Section Chief, whom we requested.

We are disappointed by this decision. Brad Schlozman and Hans Von Spakovsky, both former senior Department of Justice officials who served in the CRT, recently testified before the Senate and stated that Mr. Tanner played a key role in the Department’s decision to approve the Georgia Photo Identification law. In addition, there have been numerous articles and letters discussing serious matters that came before the Voting Section under Mr. Tanner’s leadership.

Mr. Tanner’s testimony is important to the Committee’s efforts to understand the manner in which the Department has implemented its legislative mandate. As Chief of the Voting Section, Mr. Tanner is personally familiar with the facts surrounding the Department’s decisions in significant and controversial voting rights cases. We believe that his testimony is therefore necessary for the Committee to fulfill its oversight obligations.

We therefore ask that you make Mr. Tanner available to the Committee for testimony specifically concerning the activities of the Voting Section. We are postponing the July 17th hearing with the expectation that we will receive the full cooperation of the Department in this matter. We look forward to working with you to arrange a mutually agreeable time when Mr. Tanner can testify. Please contact the Judiciary Committee if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


John Conyers, Jr. Jerrold Nadler
Chairman Chairman, Subcommittee on the
Committee on the Judiciary Constitution, Civil Rights, and
Civil Liberties

cc: Hon. Trent Franks
Hon. Lamar Smith
I have been searching high and low, but so far I cannot find any legal justification for refusing to produce Tanner, a career civil servant who worked with Bradley Schlozman and Hans von Spakovsky. One commenter suggested the DoJ must be scared spitless because Tanner, who is not a political appointee, might tell the truth. I'll keep looking for the DoJ's excuse, but I suspect the justification is simple: Alberto Gonzales holds John Conyers and the entire United States Congress in utter contempt.

You can read more about this latest outrage and recent Voting Rights Section controversies, many of them involving Tanner, at The Gavel, Nancy Pelosi's website.