NOVEMBER 12, 2010
November 12, 2010
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Explosive New Justice Department Black Panther Emails
The Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) cannot shake the New Black Panther Party scandal. Every week new revelations emerge about the racism and political favoritism that are corrupting our nation’s top law enforcement agency.
This week, we released to the public brand new documents from the Obama DOJ that provide further evidence that top political appointees at the DOJ were intimately involved in the decision to dismiss the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party.
And just like previous documents we’ve uncovered, this new evidence directly contradicts sworn testimony by Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, who testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that no political leadership participated in the decision.
Remember this exchange between Perez and the Commission?
COMMISSIONER KIRSANOW: Was there any political leadership involved in the decision not to pursue this particular case any further than it was?
ASST. ATTY. GEN. PEREZ: No. The decisions were made by Loretta King in consultation with Steve Rosenbaum, who is the Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General.
Perez also suggested that the dispute was merely “a case of career people disagreeing with career people.”
The new documents include a series of emails between two political appointees, former Democratic election lawyer and current Deputy Associate Attorney General Sam Hirsch and Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, indicating both DOJ officials were involved in detailed discussions regarding the New Black Panther Party decision. For example, in one April 30, 2009, email from Hirsch to Perrelli, with the subject title “Fw: New Black Panther Party Update,” Hirsch writes:
I need to discuss this with you tomorrow morning. I’ll send you another email on this shortly.
If you want to discuss it this evening, please let me know which number to call and when.
Another smoking gun email shows that Hirsch, who worked in the Attorney General’s office, seems to have edited the final order that the DOJ proposed to the court! The proposed order only sought relief against one of the four original defendants.
These emails were put into further context by an updated Vaughn index obtained by Judicial Watch, describing New Black Panther Party documents the Obama DOJ continues to withhold. This document, which was attached to the DOJ’s Motion for Summary Judgment filing in a Judicial Watch lawsuit, includes a description of a May 13 email chain that seems to suggest political appointee Sam Hirsch may have been orchestrating the New Black Panther Party decision.
Acting DAAG [Steven Rosenbaum] advising his supervising Acting AAG [Loretta King] of DASG’s [Hirsch’s] request for a memorandum by the Acting DAAG reviewing various options, legal strategies, and different proposals of relief as related to each separate defendant. Acting DAAG forwarding emails from Appellate Section Chief’s and Appellate Attorney’s with their detailed legal analyses including the application of constitutional provisions and judicial precedent to strategies and relief under consideration in the ongoing NBPP litigation, as well as an assessment of the strength of potential legal arguments, and presenting different possible scenarios in the litigation. [Emphasis added]
Moreover, Hirsch sent an April 30, 2009, email to Steven Rosenbaum (then-Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in charge of voting rights) thanking Rosenbaum for “doing everything you’re doing to make sure that this case is properly resolved.” The next day, the DOJ began to reverse course on its New Black Panther Party voter intimidation lawsuit.
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Here’s something else certainly suspicious and potentially incriminating: Judicial Watch also uncovered two email reports sent by former Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Loretta King, to Attorney General Eric Holder.
The first report, entitled “Weekly Report for the Week ending May 8, 2009,” was sent on May 12, 2009, notes, “On May 15, 2009, pursuant to court order, the Department will file a motion for default judgment against at least some of the defendants” in the New Black Panther Party lawsuit. The report further notes that the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense “has been identified as a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the founders and members of the original Black Panther Party.”
The second report, entitled, “Weekly Report for the Week ending May 15, 2009,” was sent on May 18, 2009, demonstrates that the DOJ did an abrupt “about face” on the New Black Panther Party issue: “On May 15, 2009, the Department voluntarily dismissed its claims” against the New Black Panther Party and two of the defendants, the report noted. The DOJ moved for default judgment against only one defendant.
What happened in the week before the first and second reports? That’s what we’re trying to break through the Obama DOJ’s stonewalling to find out.
It is now obvious to me why the Obama administration continues to be so secretive regarding the DOJ’s New Black Panther Party decision. These documents show that not only was the New Black Panther Party decision shamelessly politicized by the Obama administration but also that Obama officials lied to cover up the scandal. These documents raise more questions about Attorney General Holder’s involvement as well.
You will recall that the DOJ filed its lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party following an incident that took place outside of a Philadelphia polling station on November 4, 2008. A video of the incident showing a member of the New Black Panther Party brandishing a police-style baton weapon was widely distributed on the Internet. According to multiple witnesses, members of the New Black Panther Party blocked access to polling stations, harassed voters and hurled racial epithets. Nonetheless, the DOJ ultimately overruled the recommendations of its own staff and dismissed the majority of its charges.
Current and former DOJ attorneys have alleged in sworn testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that the DOJ’s New Black Panther Party and other civil rights-related decisions are made on the basis of race and political affiliation.
Stay tuned. Despite the efforts of Obama officials to sweep this mess under the rug, news continues to break on a weekly basis.
Rep. Boehner Rejects Pelosi’s Corrupt Example: Will Fly Commercial, Not Military
Rep. John Boehner announced this week that he will fly commercial to and from Ohio instead of using military aircraft if he officially becomes Speaker of the House of Representatives in January. This would be an abrupt change from the corrupt and disrespectful example set by Speaker Pelosi.
Here’s the scoop according to Fox News:
Presumptive House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that he will not use the military jet provided to current Speaker Nancy Pelosi to fly from D.C. to his home district each week, but will board the same airlines as everybody else.
Pelosi had claimed after she became speaker in 2007 that a military aircraft was offered to her in light of position as second in line to the presidency. But Boehner said he’s not so concerned.
“I’ve talked to our security folks about the security involved in my new role. Over the last 20 years I’ve flown back and forth to my district on commercial aircraft and will continue to do that,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said.
Here’s the statement I offered to the press on the matter:
At the heart of the corruption problem in Washington is a sense of entitlement. Politicians believe laws and rules apply to the rest of us but not to them. Rep. Boehner is sending the right signal by promising to do what most other Americans do for business travel – fly commercial.
Judicial Watch blew the whistle on Speaker Pelosi’s shocking abuse of military luxury travel. We are glad that Rep. Boehner will not follow Pelosi’s corrupt example. Rep. Boehner’s decision is wonderful news. Members of the U.S. military and taxpayers will be grateful. The next step is to curtail the use of military luxury travel for other members of Congress. In the meantime, Judicial Watch is proud to have exposed and to have helped end this abuse of our nation’s military.
Indeed, our investigations team has been relentlessly in pursuit of documents that shed light on this scandal. Our tenacity has led to reform. Let’s just take a quick moment to review some of the key evidence we compiled against Pelosi:
Judicial Watch obtained internal Pentagon email correspondence detailing attempts by Pentagon staff to accommodate Pelosi’s numerous requests for military escorts and military aircraft for herself and her family as well as the speaker’s 11th hour cancellations and changes.
Here’s just one sample email from an obviously frustrated Defense Department official responding to Pelosi’s repeated requests for military aircraft: “Any chance of politely querying [Pelosi’s team] if they really intend to do all of these or are they just picking every weekend?…[T]here’s no need to block every weekend ‘just in case’…” The email also notes that Pelosi’s office had, “a history of canceling many of their past requests.”
Judicial Watch uncovered documents that demonstrated the Speaker was using U.S. Air Force aircraft as her own personal party planes. Overall, the Speaker’s military travel cost the United States Air Force $2,100,744.59 over a two-year period — $101,429.14 of which was for in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol.
For example, purchases for one Pelosi-led congressional delegation traveling from Washington, DC, through Tel Aviv, Israel to Baghdad, Iraq May 15-20, 2008, included: Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Baileys Irish Cream, Maker’s Mark whisky, Courvoisier cognac, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewar’s scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey, Corona beer and several bottles of wine.
- Judicial Watch also uncovered documents indicating that the Defense Department was colluding with Members of Congress and staff, including Speaker Pelosi, in responding to military travel FOIA requests filed by JW and other organizations. In one case, a Defense Department official sent a CD with all of the “Pelosi related travel docs” to the Speaker’s office before releasing them to the public. Why were congressional offices getting the chance to preview documents before they were released to the American people? We’re still waiting for an answer.
We’ll keep an eye on the new Speaker of the House. Judicial Watch is nonpartisan and we’re prepared to take on Republican abuses when they take over the House. But let’s hope Boehner’s decision to end Air Pelosi is a positive sign of things to come in the new Congress regarding ethics.
And on that point…
Judicial Watch Urges Rep. Boehner to Reject “Top Ten Most Corrupt” Rep. Jerry Lewis for Head of Appropriations
On Tuesday I sent a letter on behalf of Judicial Watch and its hundreds of thousands of supporters to Rep. Boehner regarding corruption in general and a specific call to reject Rep. Jerry Lewis’s (R-CA) reported bid to head once again the House Appropriations Committee.
You may recall that Rep. Jerry Lewis has the dubious distinction of appearing on Judicial Watch’s “Washington’s Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” list for 2008.
I thought I would print the letter here for you in its entirety:
Dear Congressman Boehner:
Judicial Watch, Inc. is a non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation that advocates for the rule of law and against government corruption. We are supported nationwide by hundreds of thousands of Americans and have a sixteen-year record of holding members of both major political parties accountable to the law. You have our congratulations as you take on the high constitutional office of Speaker of the House.
The American people are tired of corruption in Congress, and I urge you to take serious steps to address these concerns.
Accordingly, Judicial Watch urges you and your leadership team to reject Rep. Jerry Lewis’s reported bid to head once again the House Appropriations Committee.
Rep. Jerry Lewis has the dubious distinction of appearing on Judicial Watch’s annual “Washington’s Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” for 2008. I quote his entry from our “Top Ten” list in full:
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA): Rep. Lewis may share a name with a world-renowned comedian, but there’s nothing funny about his addiction to influence peddling and earmarking. Lewis, the senior Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, is under investigation for approving hundreds of millions of dollars in federal projects to benefit clients of one of his best friends, lobbyist and former Congressman Bill Lowery. According to press reports, Lowery, partners in his company and their clients donated approximately 37% of the funds collected by Lewis’ campaign PAC over a six-year period (an estimated $480,000) in return. Lowery has benefited handsomely from his relationship to Lewis. His company more than tripled its income between 1998 and 2004 with help from Lewis, while increasing its client base from 21 clients to 101 over that same time period. Despite these allegations, Lewis maintains his high-ranking position on the House Appropriations Committee.
(It is unclear whether a reported DOJ criminal investigation into Rep. Lewis’s conduct is still open.)
We believe Rep. Jerry Lewis’s conduct does not meet the high standards for ethics and integrity that American voters demand from their elected officials, particularly an elected official seeking to lead the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Lewis’s unapologetic advocacy and abuse of earmarks have lent the taint of corruption to his office and the Appropriations Committee.
In the least, we urge you to use your position and influence to prevent corrupt and unethical politicians such as Rep. Lewis from being put in positions of leadership on your watch.
As Judicial Watch did with Speaker Pelosi when she took office, we look forward to the opportunity to work with you and other members to strengthen ethical standards and conduct in the House of Representatives.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
To let Rep. Boehner know how you feel about someone like Lewis taking the lead on appropriations in the new Congress, you can contact his office directly at 202-225-6205. (You might also want to thank him for shutting down Air Pelosi.)
In closing, I just want to say a special Veterans Day thank you to all of the men and women who serve, or have served, in the U.S. Armed Forces. You are the very best this nation has to offer.
Until next week…
Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts, click here.
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