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How considerate of the Justice Department to finally cut back on the extravagant work conferences that stick it to U.S. taxpayers with exorbitant tabs for overpriced food, beverages and fancy party planners.Heads turned a few weeks ago when a Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General probe revealed that the bloated agency blew more than $120 million to host law enforcement conferences that featured “extravagant and wasteful” costs for food, beverages and event planning. The details were astounding.Examples listed in the inspector general’s report include $16 muffins for breakfast, $76 lunches, $10 cookies and candy bars that cost more than $7 each. The agency also wasted thousands on event planning “consultants” and their travel between venues. Considering the DOJ hosted nearly 2,000 conferences between fiscal years 2008 and 2009 that translates into $121 million.In a sampling of 10 conferences that took place in less than a year, investigators determined that the DOJ doled out more than $4.4 million. For 10 government conferences paid entirely with taxpayer dollars! A big chunk of it went to “wasteful” event planning services, food and beverages, according to the agency’s inspector general.This week Attorney General Eric Holder announced that, as part of the agency’s cost-cutting measures the DOJ will graciously limit conference spending to only those that may be “essential.” He also took the opportunity to pat himself on the back for already yielding “significant reductions in conference spending” during the first three quarters of fiscal year 2011. That means conference spending is down $14 million over the same period last year, according to Holder.“The Department of Justice is seeking ways to do more with less while we maintain our commitment to our critical law enforcement mission and our most important public safety priorities,” Holder said after announcing a series of other cost-cutting measures at the DOJ. He said the cost-saving will help the agency utilize its “limited resources in the most effective way possible.”Other measures that will save the agency some cash include streamlining operations, consolidating or reducing office space, a temporary hiring freeze and limiting travel and training. These brilliant ideas were discovered by the Attorney General’s Advisory Council for Savings and Efficiencies, which Holder credits with saving taxpayers $51 million. Created in 2010, the special council provides a framework to identify and implement practices for saving taxpayer money, realizing efficiencies and monitoring savings progress.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has for years “grossly understated” statistics to conceal “inherent flaws” in U.S. immigration courts that have allowed more than 1 million removal orders to be ignored and droves of deportable aliens to evade hearings without consequences.In fact, pervasive corruption has long plagued the nation’s immigration court system and the DOJ, which operates them, distorts figures to hide the truth from Congress. The alarming details are outlined in a lengthyreport authored by a former immigration court judge (Mark H. Metcalf) in south Florida, which is considered a hotbed in the scandal-plagued system.The veteran jurist reveals that the nation’s immigration courts are ruled by deception and disorder and are at the heart of a system that nurtures scandal. About 250 overwhelmed judges preside over hundreds of thousands of cases annually and rarely are their deportation orders enforced against aliens who skip court or remain in the U.S. after being removed. In many cases aliens remain free before trial and a chunk of them vanish.Even after the 2001 terrorist attacks, 50% of all aliens who were free pending trial disappeared, according to figures provided in the judge’s report. Between 2005 and 2006 the number of aliens who failed to appear at their court hearing grew to 59%. The DOJ deceptively reported the figure as “only” 39% by combining aliens who were free pending trial with those in custody who were forced by authorities to appear in court. That allowed the so-called bail-jumpers to appear as a smaller part of a bigger overall figure.Additionally, federal statistics analyzed in the probe show that from 1996 through 2009, the United States allowed nearly 2 million aliens to remain free before trial and 770,000 of them – 40 percent of the total – disappeared. This certainly creates a substantial national security threat since it’s unlikely that the feds know the whereabouts of these illegal immigrants.Referring to President Obama’s backdoor amnesty plan, the report also mentions that enforcement of deportation orders is now “nearly non-existent.” Unexecuted removal orders have skyrocketed from 602,000 in 2002 to well over 1 million, according to government statistics cited by the judge. This is even more appalling considering that U.S. immigration courts rule in favor of aliens 60% of the time, the investigation found.As if all this weren’t bad enough, U.S. taxpayers finance the multitude of appeals filed each year by illegal immigrants deported for criminal convictions and fraudulent marriages. From 2000 to 2007 alone, Americans doled out $30 million for aliens’ court costs, according to Metcalf’s findings. A preview of the finished document was released in June and the finished product is jolting enough to merit a congressional investigation.

In what could be viewed as a waste of taxpayer resources during a financial crisis, Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has distributed $83 million in “second chance” grants to ensure that prison inmates become “productive, law-abiding citizens” upon completing their sentence.It’s part of an innovative plan devised last year by Attorney General Eric Holder to help convicts who may have difficulty integrating into society after serving time for major crimes. Holder created a special Federal Interagency Reentry Council he claims will help reduce recidivism, save taxpayer dollars in the long run and make communities safer.How? By bringing together numerous federal agencies to assist those returning from jail in becoming productive citizens. This, in turn, will save taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration. Reentry council members include several Obama cabinet secretaries, including Ken Salazar of the Department of the Interior, Kathleen Sebelius at Health and Human Services, Tom Vilsack at the Department of Agriculture, Hilda Solis at the Labor Department and Arne Duncan at the Department of Education.Together they work to assist former inmates by, among other things, ensuring that they have access to federal benefits immediately upon release to “help stabilize the critical first days and weeks after incarceration.” Announcing the multi-million-dollar grant this week, Holder stressed that “we must use every tool at our disposal to tear down the unnecessary barriers to economic opportunities and independence so that formerly incarcerated individuals can serve as productive members of their communities.”The announcement came with a special brochure (“Reentry Myth Busters”) warning employers and others about laws that protect the “formerly incarcerated” when seeking jobs, housing and federal assistance or benefits, voting rights and Medicaid eligibility. The new publication insinuates that employers who don’t hire convicts violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion or sex. The reasoning is that automatically barring everyone with a criminal record is likely to limit the employment opportunities of workers because of their race or ethnicity.Here is another great myth buster. The federal government does not have a policy that precludes employment of people with criminal records from all positions. In fact, the federal government frequently employs people with criminal records as long as they have the “requisite knowledge, skills and abilities.” Agencies are actually required to consider people with criminal records when filling positions if they are the best candidates.Also noted is that most states don’t enforce a federal lifetime ban on convicted drug felons receiving welfare benefits. The states that bother to enforce the ban are listed so convicts can avoid them upon release. They include Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, South Dakota and West Virginia. Another myth buster is that people can get food stamps without an official state identification or a mailing address.

While President Obama pushes for tax hikes to finance yet another flawed government program, separate audits expose the enraging waste of public dollars at two of the nation’s largest federal agencies.The probes, released just weeks apart, illustrate how bloated government agencies go on spending sprees with American tax dollars, even as the nation suffers through a dire financial crisis and record-high unemployment. None of this serves as a deterrent when it comes to living it up on the public’s dime.At the Department of Justice (DOJ) more than $120 million went to host law enforcement conferences that featured “extravagant and wasteful” costs for food, beverages and event planning, according to the agency’s inspector general. This includes $16 muffins for breakfast, $76 lunches, $10 cookies and candy bars that cost more than $7 each. The agency also spent thousands on event planning “consultants” and their travel between venues.Considering the DOJ hosted nearly 2,000 conferences between fiscal years 2008 and 2009 that translates into $121 million. In a sampling of 10 conferences that took place in less than a year, investigators determined that the DOJ doled out more than $4.4 million. A big chunk of it went to “wasteful” event planning services, food and beverages, according to the report, which was made public this week.Days earlier a separate audit exposed a similar situation at the State Department, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars from a special emergency fund for unrelated matters such as parties and a kitchen renovation at the agency’s Washington D.C. headquarters. The money is provided by Congress for “urgent needs” such as evacuating diplomats from dangerous posts or paying rewards for information on terrorist activities.During fiscal years 2008 and 2009 the State Department used approximately $34.3 million from the special account—known as K Fund—and the agency’s inspector general determined that $723,378 of it was not properly spent. Some of it was used for a holiday party hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to engrave holiday cards for senior-level officials and to buy linens for an annual retirement party. The kitchen renovation cost more than $320,000 and should have been paid for from another fund.State Department brass has essentially flipped the finger at its watchdog, dismissing most of its recommendations to ensure the money is used appropriately and justifying the expenses as “legally permissible.” The agency has also failed to provide mandatory quarterly reports to Congress, according to the audit.

Public school teachers with unacceptable English pronunciation and grammar are being protected by the Obama Administration, which has forced one state to eliminate a fluency monitoring program created to comply with a 2002 federal education law.Singling out teachers who can’t speak proper English in American schools—funded by taxpayers, no less—discriminates against Hispanics and others who are not native English speakers, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). As a result it violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the teachers must remain in their current position.Unbelievable as this may seem, it’s a true story reported this week by Arizona’s largest newspaper. Ironically, the state launched the fluency monitoring program to comply with the bipartisan-backed No Child Left Behind Act, which requires states to create standardized tests that show public school students are reaching proficiency in core subjects like English, math and science.With only a small proportion of low-English proficiency students (reading between the lines they are referring to illegal immigrants) passing the state’s standardized reading test, Arizona education officials started to look at the teachers in those classrooms. They found a common thread in dozens of districts throughout the state; many instructors don’t speak proper English and, in fact, teach in Spanish, using Spanish-language materials. Some have “unacceptably heavy accents” that causes them to mispronounce words. Others use poor English grammar.Here are some examples of state monitoring reports listed in the article; a teacher who asked her English learners “How do we call it in English?” and teachers who pronounced “levels” as “lebels” and “much” as “mush.” Last year a monitor documented teachers who pronounced “the” as “da” and “lives here” as “leeves here.”Protected by the power of their union, no teachers have been fired for fluency issues. They have simply been reassigned and districts are required to develop “corrective-action plans” to improve their English. However a group of teachers took their case to the feds last year, complaining that their accents were getting them removed from classrooms.This is the sort of issue that makes the Justice Department’s bloated civil rights division salivate. Predictably, the agency took swift action, threatening to file a civil rights lawsuit if Arizona didn’t get rid of its teacher fluency monitoring program. As a result, thousands of children in the state’s taxpayer funded schools are stuck with teachers they probably can’t understand.The superintendent of Arizona’s public schools (John Huppenthal) says his office will continue encouraging districts to help teachers with flawed English pronunciation or grammar. “Students should be in a class where teachers can articulate,” he said.

Judicial Watch Represents Family Research Council in Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit over Justice Department’s Undermining of DOMA

Contact Information: Press Office 202-646-5172, ext 305

Washington, DC — August 31, 2011

Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on August 29, 2011, against the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of the Family Research Council (FRC) for records related to the DOJ’s decision not to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in any pending or future litigation (Family Research Council Inc. v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 11-1550)).

FRC seeks documents from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division to determine the purported basis for the decision and the possible influence of homosexual activists on the decision. In a separate lawsuit, Judicial Watch attempts to obtain some of these same documents (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 11-803)).

On February 23, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder stated that the Obama DOJ would not defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA as applied to same-sex married couples. Less than three hours after Attorney General Holder’s announcement, litigants seeking to strike down California’s traditional marriage definition filed a motion to vacate the stay of its case with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In its motion, the litigants cited to, and quoted from, Attorney General Holder’s letter to the Congress.

On June 2, 2011, the DOJ informed FRC by letter that it had searched and identified 357 pages of email chains responsive to the FOIA request, 27 pages of which were claimed to be exempted and were withheld. On June 27, 2011, FRC filed an administrative appeal of the withholdings but the DOJ has not responded despite being required to do so by law.

“When Barack Obama became president, he took an oath to uphold our laws – and not just the ones with which he personally agrees. If he’ll undermine this law, which one is next? This isn’t just a threat to marriage. It’s a threat to the entire democratic process. If the Obama administration has nothing to hide, then why stonewall?” stated Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. “We have serious concerns that the Justice Department wants to hide evidence that it was doing the bidding of campaign donors and homosexual activists from whom Obama will need assistance for his reelection.”

“Once again the Obama administration is playing politics with the Freedom of Information Act to avoid telling the American people the truth about one of its indefensible positions,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The evidence suggests the nation’s highest law enforcement is refusing to enforce the law to appease another special interest group.”

Is the Justice Department Partnering with Scandal-plagued Project Vote ?

Contact Information:
Press Office 202-646-5172, ext 305g

Washington, DC — August 24, 2011

Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on August 19, 2011, against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to obtain records related to the agency’s communications with Estelle Rogers, a former ACORN attorney currently serving as Director of Advocacy for the ACORN-connected organization Project Vote, President Obama’s former employer (Judicial Watch v. Department of Justice (No. 11-1497)). Judicial Watch is investigating the extent to which the DOJ and Project Vote are partnering on a national campaign to use the National Voting Rights Act (NVRA) to register more individuals on public assistance, widely considered a key voting demographic for the Obama 2012 campaign.
Pursuant to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed on June 23, 2011, Judicial Watch seeks the following: “All records of communications between the Department of Justice and Estelle Rogers, Director of Advocacy for Project Vote. The timeframe for this request is January 2, 2009, to June 23, 2011.”According to federal law, the DOJ was required to respond to Judicial Watch’s June 23, 2011, FOIA request within 30 working days, or by August 5, 2011. U.S. Postal Service records indicate the DOJ received Judicial Watch’s request on June 28, 2011. As of the lawsuit’s filing, the DOJ has failed to produce the records requested or respond with a date they will be forthcoming.As Director of Advocacy for Project Vote, Estelle Rogers – a former attorney for ACORN, which was besieged with charges of corruption before declaring bankruptcy in November 2010 – is a primary contact person on policy matters at Project Vote on both state and federal levels and has been actively involved in voter registration issues. By threatening lawsuits under Section 7 of the NVRA, Project Vote has aggressively sought to force election officials in various states to increase the registration of people receiving public assistance. (Under Section 7, states are required to offer voter registration services at all public assistance agencies, including unemployment offices and food stamp offices.)On August 4, 2011, Judicial Watch released documents obtained from the Colorado Department of State showing that ACORN and Project Vote successfully pressured Colorado officials into implementing new policies for increasing the registration of public assistance recipients during the 2008 and 2010 election seasons. Following the policy changes, the percentage of invalid voter registration forms from Colorado public assistance agencies was four times the national average. Project Vote also sought a “legislative fix” to allow people without a driver’s license or state identification to register to vote online.Project Vote and the “community organization” ACORN have both been linked to serious incidents of voter registration fraud. In fact, Project Vote’s “Field Director,” Amy Busefink, who handled the online registration campaign for Colorado, entered an Alford plea to two gross misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit the crime of compensation for registration of voters in Nevada while working for ACORN. (An Alford plea is a guilty plea, where the defendant does not admit the act or assert innocence, but admits that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.)In addition to pursuing public agency registration cases in Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Georgia and New Mexico, Project Vote also filed a lawsuit on April 19, 2011, in partnership with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), against the State of Louisiana alleging violations of the NVRA. Less than three months later, on July 12, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division/Voting Section sued Louisiana on the same grounds, claiming that “Louisiana officials have not routinely offered voter registration forms, assistance and services to the state’s eligible citizens who apply, recertify or provide a change address for public assistance or disability services.”The DOJ sued the State of Rhode Island on March 11, 2011, alleging violations of the NVRA. The lawsuit led to policy changes intended to increase the number of voter registration applications processed by “public assistance and disability service officers.” These two lawsuits, filed within five months of each other, are the first such lawsuits filed by the DOJ since 2007.Barack Obama has deep connections to Project Vote. He served as the Illinois Executive Director of Project Vote in 1992. His campaign paid more than $800,000 to an ACORN organization to help “get out the vote” in his successful primary campaign against then-Sen. Hillary Clinton.“Judicial Watch is convinced that Project Vote’s activities remain a threat to the integrity of our elections. The fact that Project Vote is bullying states to attack election security reforms in order to register Obama’s ‘Food Stamp Army’ comes as no surprise. But it appears that the Obama Justice Department is using the same playbook as Project Vote – to the detriment of clean elections. The American people deserve to know if the nation’s highest law enforcement agency has become nothing more than a political tool to help this scandalous ACORN-front group re-elect Barack Obama. Again, this Justice Department can’t seem to be bothered to comply with basic open records FOIA law,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

To ensure that low-income minorities get taxpayer-subsidized housing Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a nationwide discrimination probe that, ironically, is focusing on an area where the overwhelming number of public housing residents are Latino and black.The investigations are being conducted by the DOJ’s bloated civil rights division, which is headed by a renowned illegal immigration advocate (Thomas Perez) who once served as president of a taxpayer-funded group (Casa de Maryland) dedicated to helping illegal aliens. A former Maryland Labor Secretary, Perez has made a number of controversial moves at the DOJ to protect illegal immigrants and minorities in general.Among them is ordering Colorado to protect the interests of “language minority populations,” suing a public college system for discrimination over a requirement that job applicants furnish proof of residency to get hired and launching an initiative to kill written tests that Perez asserts discriminate against minorities in the workplace.This month the DOJ’s pro minority act du jour focuses on two cities—Lancaster and Palmdale—in Los Angeles County known as the Antelope Valley. Perez claims they discriminate against blacks and Latinos when it comes to providing federally-subsidized housing known as Section 8, even though 86% of the Section 8 recipients in both cities are minorities, according to the county commissioner (Michael Antonovich) who represents the area. Antonovich accuses Perez, who flew into the Antelope Valley a few days ago to formally announce the probe, of grandstanding.At the heavily promoted Antelope Valley press conference Perez also announced that his agency has opened a related investigation into allegations of discriminatory policing by the law enforcement agency that patrols the area, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. This is relevant because Perez alleges that deputies harass minority residents of government-subsidized housing in an effort to drive blacks and Latinos out of the historically white area that sits about 60 miles north of the city of Los Angeles.Officers who patrol the Antelope Valley engage in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of race or national origin, Perez said, revealing that his agency made the determination after “extensive conversations with individuals” in addition to “representatives from community organizations.” During the interviews, DOJ investigators heard “troubling accounts of allegedly unjustified stops and searches,” according to Perez who said his agency is focusing on whether there is a pattern of “racially motivated stops and arrests.”Under Perez’s leadership the DOJ has launched similar investigations of state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the country, including New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia and Louisiana. It has also created a secret department (National Origin Working Group) within the civil rights division to monitor “discriminatory” laws passed by states and municipalities to control illegal immigration.

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