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Court Rules DOJ Politicized Black Panther Case, Awards JW Court Fees
Judicial Watch has been confident for some time that the evidence shows that political appointees at the Holder Justice Department were involved in the decision to abandon the DOJ’s own voter intimidation lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party. And we’ve also been concerned that at least one high ranking Justice Department official lied about it under oath.
And in a major victory for Judicial Watch, a federal court seems to agree with our analysis of this continuing scandal.
The ruling came courtesy of Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in response to Judicial Watch’s effort to obtain attorney’s fees from the Justice Department for stonewalling the release of documents pertaining to the Black Panther scandal. Here’s the key quote from Judge Walton’s ruling:
The documents reveal that political appointees within DOJ were conferring about the status and resolution of the New Black Panther Party case in the days preceding the DOJ’s dismissal of claims in that case, which would appear to contradict Assistant Attorney General Perez’s testimony that political leadership was not involved in that decision. Surely the public has an interest in documents that cast doubt on the accuracy of government officials’ representations regarding the possible politicization of agency decision-making.
In sum, the Court concludes that three of the four fee entitlement factors weigh in favor of awarding fees to Judicial Watch. Therefore, Judicial Watch is both eligible and entitled to fees and costs, and the Court must now consider the reasonableness of Judicial Watch’s requested award.
So, in short, this ruling is further confirmation that political appointees at Justice did interfere in the Black Panther case. Assistant AG Perez’s testimony was false. And the American people have a right to documents related to the scandal. That’s pretty much a clear-cut victory.
By way of review, this all started on Election Day 2008, when members of the Black Panther Party stood guard at a polling station in Philadelphia, PA brandishing weapons and threatening voters. A video of the incident was widely distributed on the Internet. The Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against the Black Panthers, but ultimately overruled members of its own staff and dismissed the majority of the charges.
The Black Panther lawsuit dismissal led to accusations of racism at the Justice Department from within its own ranks. Former Justice Department lawyer J. Christian Adams, who called the actions by Black Panthers, “the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law” he had ever seen during his career at the DOJ, resigned from his position as a result of the case dismissal.
Given the massive media attention earned by the Black Panther case dismissal, people started questioning whether or not the decision was politically motivated — including the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
The Commission, an independent, bipartisan unit of the federal government charged with investigating and reporting on civil rights issues, initiated a probe of the DOJ’s decision to drop its lawsuit. During the hearing, Assistant AG Perez was asked directly regarding the involvement of political leaders in the decision to dismiss the Black Panther case.
And here’s what he said in his testimony:
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.
On September 20, JW released a draft Vaughn index prepared by the DOJ that shows that top political appointees at the DOJ were involved in the decision to dismiss the case. The index, which we acquired pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, describes documents the government is withholding from the public.
Included in the index was a description of a series of emails between Assistant Deputy Attorney General Steve Rosenbaum and Deputy Associate Attorney General Sam Hirsch. The back-and-forth emails occurred on April 30, 2009, the day before the case was dropped. Hirsch has been described by Slate magazine as a “DC election lawyer who represents a lot of Democrats” prior to joining the Justice Department. Hirsch is also a former Obama donor.
Also among the documents were internal DOJ emails regarding the Black Panther case between former Deputy Attorney General David Ogden and the Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, the second and third ranking officials at the DOJ.
Here’s one example: A May 10, 2009, email from Associate Attorney General Perrelli to Deputy Associate Attorney General and former Democratic election lawyer Sam Hirsch. “Where are we on the Black Panther case?” Perrelli asks in the subject header. The email also includes Deputy Attorney General Ogden’s “current thoughts on the case.”
So what about the top ranking official at DOJ, Attorney General Eric Holder?
An email from former Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King, dated May 12, 2009, was distributed directly to Attorney General Eric Holder through Odgen and Perrelli. Entitled, “Weekly Report for the Week Ending May 8, 2009,” the email “Identifies matters deemed significant and highlights issues for the senior offices, including an update on a planned course of action in the NBPP (New Black Panther Party) litigation.”
Evidently Holder was in the loop as well. Okay, next question: What about the Obama White House?
Press reports reported at least nine meetings between Perrelli and White House officials between March 25 and May 27, 2009, regarding the Black Panther case. (JW filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to get to the truth in the matter but were unable to find evidence of a direct White House link (not that Messrs Perrelli and Hirsch needed to be told what to do).)
So the Black Panther scandal which, we were told, was managed by low level Justice officials might just go all the way to the very top.
As I say, JW’s discoveries in this case have earned a massive amount of press coverage. Here’s a link to an appearance I made on the Fox News Channel’s “O’Reilly Factor” with Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday night. Expect the news regarding this case to continue to reverberate. The Court’s decision is another piece of evidence showing the Obama Justice Department is run by individuals who have a problem telling the truth. And it shows that we can’t trust the Obama Justice Department to fairly administer our nation’s voting and election laws.
We intend to continue to push for accountability. Perez, who gave the false testimony, is a leading leftist at Justice who has taken the lead in the attacks on Arizona’s immigration enforcement measures, attacks on election integrity measures such as voter ID, and the shakedown of financial institutions over dubious discriminatory lending allegations. (You can go to agency’s Internet site to get the full breadth of Perez’s hard Left agenda.)
Hans Von Spakovsky, a former DOJ official now with the Heritage Foundation, has been following this issue closely and writes:
Where is the investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) of whether Perez violated his ethical and professional obligations as a DOJ attorney? Will the DOJ inspector general open an investigation of the possible violation by Perez of 18 U.S.C. §1621, which outlaws presenting false statements under oath in official federal proceedings? Or will they all respectively yawn and ignore this?
Imagine if a conservative political appointee at DOJ had just been cited in a federal court decision as having apparently testified falsely under oath. Not only would it be a top headline at The New York Times and The Washington Post, but the IG and OPR would be rushing to investigate. All of which is a sad commentary on the liberal bias not just of the media, but of too many of the offices and officials within the Justice Department who are supposed to administer justice in an objective, non-political, and impartial manner.
We will follow up, of course. You should, too. Contact the Justice Department, call talk radio, write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, call or visit your congressman (they’re all back “home” now for a few weeks). And, of course, keep up your support of Judicial Watch, so we can achieve more victories and accountability for the rule of law in corrupt DC.
JW Sues Fed for Records Detailing Justification for AIG Bailout
From the very outset of the financial crisis, we were told if the federal government did not “invest” massive amount of taxpayer funds to bail out failing companies, the entire world economy would grind to a halt. And what was the evidence the government used to support this claim? What calculations did they use to justify the unprecedented seizure of large swaths of the private economy by the federal government?
We don’t know. But it’s certainly not for lack of trying. Judicial Watch launched a comprehensive investigation to determine under what legal authorities and lawful rationales the federal government initiated the Wall Street bailouts and has filed a number of lawsuits to get answers for the American people. And that effort continues full steam ahead.
On July 18, 2012 we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the Board) seeking records related to the government bailout of American International Group, Inc. (AIG). We filed our lawsuit on behalf of Vern McKinley. As you may recall, Vern is a former employee of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and author of Financing Failure: A Century of Bailouts. So he knows what he’s talking about.
Here’s what we’re after pursuant to our original May 15, 2012, FOIA request:
…Copies of any and all records of the Board located at the [Federal Reserve Bank of New York] concerning, regarding, or relating to the proposition that ‘the disorderly failure of AIG was likely to have a systemic effect on financial markets that were already experiencing a significant level of fragility.’ Such records include, but are not limited to…detailed meeting minutes, meeting notes, supporting memoranda, communications, and electronic messages and attachments.
The Board acknowledged receiving Judicial Watch’s request on May 15, 2012, and requested an extension to issue its response, yielding a deadline of June 27, 2012. However, as of the date of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, the Board has failed to respond in accordance with FOIA law.
The Obama administration’s secrecy regarding the AIG loan, while not surprising, is wholly indefensible. We are talking about a massive bailout. And we believe if there was a meeting to discuss how and why these funds were handed over to AIG, the American taxpayer, who paid the bill, deserves a seat at the table.
Here’s what we know right now.
On September 16, 2008, the Board decided to extend an initial $85 billion loan to insurance giant AIG, which it claimed “faced the imminent prospect of declaring bankruptcy.” According to minutes from the September 16, 2008, meeting: “Board members agreed that the disorderly failure of AIG was likely to have a systemic effect on financial markets that were already experiencing a significant level of fragility and that the best alternative available was to lend to AIG to assist it in meeting its obligations in an orderly manner as they came due…” (CNN reports the total cost committed to AIG is now $182 billion.)
Now the Board’s “sky is falling” claim – that the failure of major corporations would spread a contagion throughout the financial system – has been used repeatedly to justify the bailouts. However, as I say, the government has failed to back up this claim.
However, while we don’t know under what authority the Fed gave all of this money to AIG, we do know that the government officials did not believe taxpayers would recoup their investment, a fact they tried to conceal from the American people.
Judicial Watch uncovered a series of presentation slides detailing the terms of the AIG bailout. Included among the items is a slide entitled “Investment Considerations.” On the slide the words, “The prospects of recovery of capital and a return on the equity investment to the taxpayer are highly speculative” are crossed out by hand.
And we also know that AIG executives, thanks to the Obama administration, used quite a bit of this money to stuff their own pockets.
In March 2009, AIG disbursed $165 million in taxpayer-funded TARP funds to its top executives, prompting a massive public backlash. Obama officials reportedly lobbied Congress to insert legislative language allowing the AIG bonus payments and then apparently lied about their knowledge of the payment scheme. As then-head of the New York Federal Reserve, current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner helped craft the original AIG deal.
On February 25, 2010, we filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Obama Treasury Department to obtain documents regarding meetings involving Kenneth Feinberg, special master for executive compensation under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP); AIG Chairman Robert Benmosche; and New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley. Feinberg, also known as the Obama administration’s “pay czar,” is the federal official responsible for setting compensation guidelines for the seven largest firms, including AIG, using funds from TARP.
Here’s the bottom line. We are now trillions of taxpayer dollars into these financial bailouts and the government refuses to answer basic questions about the government’s radically intrusive response to the financial crisis. The American people are tired of the Obama administration’s stonewalling and they want answers. The Fed should obey Freedom of Information Act law and respond immediately to our request.
JW, MDPetitions.com Seek to Protect Maryland Voters Right to Decide Fate of Maryland’s Gerrymandered Congressional Redistricting Map
Gerrymandering — the process of creating congressional districts to benefit an incumbent or a political party — has been around for a very long time. In fact, in the United States the practice reportedly dates all the way back to 1788, preceeding by one year the first U.S. Congress.
However, gerrymandering earned its name in 1812 when then-Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a bill redistricting Massachusetts to the advantage of his political party. One of the re-drawn districts had the shape of a salamander, which was satirized by more than one political cartoonist. From that point forward, the term gerrymander was used to describe this obvious method of hoarding political power. Here’s a nice clip of President Ronald Reagan criticizing the practice.
Even given its long pedigree, however, what Maryland Governor O’Malley and his Democrat allies have done in Maryland to benefit Democrat incumbents might be without precedent. Even the liberal Washington Post called the Governor’s redistricting map, which is now known as a Marymander, “comical” in its construction. (You can review the congressional districting map for yourself here. For fun, see if you can find any animal shapes.)
Owing to the controversy surrounding Governor O’Malley’s Congressional Districting Plan, our client, MDPetitions.com initiated a petition drive to place the map on the November 2012 ballot. Maryland Democrats objected and filed a lawsuit asking the court to keep the map off the ballot. They would instead prefer to ram their ridiculous plan through without public scrutiny.
Enter Judicial Watch.
On July 30, 2012, we filed a Motion to Intervene on behalf of MDPetitions.com to defend the petition drive against this partisan lawsuit, arguing that the gerrymandered maps minimize the voting power of minorities, rural voters and Republicans.
According to Judicial Watch’s Motion to Intervene, filed on behalf of MDPetitions.com:
As the sponsor of his successful petition, MDPetitions.com obviously has a compelling interest in ensuring that voters across the State of Maryland have the opportunity to vote on the Congressional Districting Plan in the November 2012 election. MDPetitions.com represents not only its own interests and the interests of its organizers and volunteers who worked to make the petition a success, but also the interests of the 59,201 confirmed registered voters who signed the petition in the exercise of their rights under Article XVI, Section 2 of the Maryland Constitution.
Let’s back-track a bit to see why both political parties have such major concerns with the new Maryland districts.
On October 20, 2011, Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) signed the new Congressional Districting Plan into law, drawing heavy criticism from both political parties. Critics maintain the new Congressional map is specifically designed to enhance the power of Democrat incumbents while minimizing the voting power of minorities, rural voters and Republicans. The new map also adds one new Democratic seat.
As noted by a Washington Post editorial: “The map, drafted under Mr. O’Malley’s watchful eye, mocks the idea that voting districts should be compact or easily navigable. The eight districts respect neither jurisdictional boundaries nor communities of interest. To protect incumbents and for partisan advantage, the map has been sliced, diced, shuffled and shattered, making districts resemble studies in cubism.”
According to the Post, the “comical and controversial” redistricting plan has inspired stiff opposition from 4th District Rep. Donna Edwards and Montgomery County Council President Valerie Ervin, both African-American Democrats, because of its negative impact on Maryland’s minority citizens: “…by balkanizing Montgomery [County], where minorities make up a narrow majority, as well as other minority-heavy areas, the new map dilutes the influence of black and Hispanic voters and prevents establishing a third district dominated by minorities.”
Delegate Neil Parrott, Chairman of MDPetitions.com said: “The people of Maryland have spoken. Now is the time to let the people vote. Unfortunately, the leadership of the Maryland Democrat Party is trying to thwart the will of the voters by trying to prevent the democratic referendum process from working.
“Voters all across the state worked diligently to allow Marylanders to vote on this bill, and MDPetitions.com looks forward to working with Judicial Watch again to defend each and every signature.”
Now the last thing Governor O’Malley and certain Democrat powerbrokers want is for the people of Maryland to have a say on this gerrymandered Congressional Districting Plan, and that is why they are trying to keep it off the ballot. In our view, and consistent with the Maryland State Constitution, MDPetitions.com operated a lawful petition drive and now Maryland citizens of both political parties have every right to vote up or down Maryland’s new Congressional District Plan.
As you may recall, JW and MDPetitions.com have teamed up with success before.
MDPetitions.com previously initiated another successful petition drive in Maryland to place on the 2012 ballot a policy enacted by Maryland public colleges and universities to provide discounted tuition for illegal alien students. Judicial Watch represented MDPetitions.com in a lawsuit challenging the petition drive. In June an appellate court ruled in favor of MDPetitions.com paving the way for voters to decide the fate of tuition breaks for illegal aliens this November.
Moreover, MDPetitions.com was also part of the successful effort to place Maryland’s homosexual marriage law before voters on Election Day.
All MDPetitions.com wants, indeed what JW wants as well, is for voters to have a say on these issues. Let’s hope the court agrees with MDPetitions.com again and the Marymander map remains on the November 2012 ballot.
That’s the cheer this week around our office. In case you missed it in my email yesterday, we did it. My new book THE CORRUPTION CHRONICLES: Obama’s Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government (Threshold Editions; July 24, 2012; Hardcover; $26.99), is the Number 1 best-selling nonfiction hardcover book in the country (according to the industry-leading Nielsen’s BookScan results for the week ending July 29).
The Judicial Watch book, released on July 24, 2012, has also debuted at #6 on The New York Times Best Sellers Nonfiction Hardcover List (to be published on August 12). Our debuting anywhere on the The New York Times list is great – but #6 is a major achievement for our cause!
The book was also featured in the appearance this week on Bill O’Reilly’s The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News Channel I told you about above.
If you have not already ordered your copy, you can do so by clicking here. And I encourage to help keep us on the New York Times list by ordering extra copies for your family, friends, and colleagues. (We’re now near the top of the Amazon best seller list, too!)
Mark Tapscott, Executive Editor, The Washington Examiner said about THE CORRUPTION CHRONICLES, “Tom Fitton has captured his organization’s exciting and important journey in THE CORRUPTION CHRONICLES, a highly readable, informative and entertaining look at how Judicial Watch lawyers and investigators have uncovered scandal after scandal…”
I suspect that there are many corrupt politicians of both political parties (such as Barack Obama) who would like this book to disappear – which is all more the reason to push for an even wider release.
Thank you very much for all of your support in helping us to achieve this organizational milestone. This is a great book and every copy sold helps Judicial Watch’s cause. Now, let’s keep the momentum going and keep THE CORRUPTION CHRONICLES on the bestseller lists for weeks to come!