Testimony of Christopher Coates 3242011
Number of Pages:19
Date Created:September 24, 2010
Date Uploaded to the Library:February 20, 2014
Autogenerated text from PDF
Coates U.S. Commission Civil Rights September 24, 2010 Good morning, Chairman Reynolds, Vice-Chair Thernsttom, and other members this Commission. here testify about the Department Justice's (DOJ) final disposition the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) case and the hostility the Civil Right Division (CRD) and Voting Section toward the equal enforcement some the federal voting laws. 1bis CommissiDn served with subpoena December 2009 testify its investigation the DOJ's actions the NBPP case. Since service that subpoena, have been instructed DOJ officials not comply with it. have communicated with these officials, including Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Thomas Perez, and expressed view that should allowed testify concerning this important civil rights enforcement issue. have pointed out that have personal knowledge that relevant your investigation ---personal knowledge that Mr. Perez does not have --because was not serving AAG for Civil Rights the time the final disposition the NBP case. requests allowed testify and your repeated requests the DOJ for allow respond the lawfully-issued subpoena have all been denied. Furthermore, have reviewed the written statements and the testimony that Mr. Perez and others from the DOJ have given this Commission and Congress concerning the CRD's enforcement activities, including its enforcement activities the NBP case. addition, have reviewed Mr. Perez' August 11, 2010 letter this Commission which again denied your request that allowed testify before you and which made various representations concerning the CRD's enforcement practices. Based upon own personal knowledge the events surrounding the CRD's actions the NBPP case and the atmosphere that has existed and continues exist the CRD and the Voting Section against fair enforcement certain federal voting laws, not believe these representations this Commission accurately reflect what occurred the NBPP case and not reflect the hostile atmosphere that has existed within the CRD for long time against race-neutral enforcement the Voting Rights Act RA). giving this testimony, not claim that Mr. Perez has knowingly given false testimony either this Commission Congress. Indeed, have previously indicated, Mr. Perez was not present the CRD the time the decisions were made the NBPP case, and may not fully aware the long-term hostility the race-neutral enforcement the VRA either the CRD the Voting Section. Instead, testimony claims that DOJ's public representations this Commission and other entities not accurately reflect what caused the dismissals three defendants the NBP case and the very limited injunctive relief obtained against the remaining defendant, and they not accurately describe the long-standing opposition the CRD and the Voting Section the equal enforcement the provisions the VRA. did not lightly decide comply with your subpoena contradiction the DOJ's directives not testify. had hoped that this controversy would not come this point; however, have determined that will longer fail respond your subpoena and thereby fail provide this Commission accurate information pertinent your investigation. Quite simply, incorrect representations are going successfully thwart inquiry into the systemic problems regarding race-neutral enforcement the VRA the CRD---problems that were manifested the DOJ's disposition the NBPP case --that end not going furthered accomplished sitting silently the direction supervisors while incorrect information provided. not believe that professionally, ethically, legally, much less, morally bound allow such result occur. addition, giving this testimony claiming the protections all applicable federal whistleblower statutes. the other hand, giving this testimony will not answer questions which will require disclose communications the NBBP case that are protected the deliberative process privilege. That privilege that the DOJ has asserted this matter can, opinion, protected while the same time, can provide you information that you need conduct your investigation ---indeed, first hand information you will not have ifl not testify ---that respects the privilege. THE IKE BROWN CASE understand what occurred the NBPP case, those action must placed the context United States Ike Brown al. Prior the filing the Brown case 2005, the CRD had never filed single case under the VRA which claimed that white voters had been subjected racial discrimination defendants who were African American members other minority groups. Moreover, the CRD and the Voting Section had never objected any voting change under the preclearance requirement Section the VRA the ground that the change had racially discriminatory purpose effect white voters. (No such objection, even jurisdictions that have majority-minority populations, has been interposed date. will return that subject later presentation.) very familiar with the reaction many employees, both line and management attorneys and support staffin both the CRD and the Voting Section, the Ike Brown investigation and case because was the attorney who initiated and led the investigation that matter and was the lead trial attorney throughout the case the trial court. Opposition within the Voting Section was widespread taking actions under the VRA behalf white voters Noxubee County, MS, the jurisdiction which Ike Brown and was the Chairman the local Democratic Executive Committee. 2003, white voters and candidates complained the Voting Section that elections had been administered racially discriminatory manner. and asked that federal observers sent the primary run-off elections. Career attorneys the Voting Section recommended that not even Noxubee County for the primary run-off election coverage, but that opposition going Noxubee was overridden the Bush Administration's CRD Front Office. went the coverage and while traveling Mississippi, the Deputy Chief who was leading that election coverage' asked me, "can you believe that are going Mississippi protect white voters?" What observed that election coverage Noxubee County was some the most outrageous and blatant racially discriminatory behavior the polls committed Ike Brown and his allies that have seen had reported thirty three-plus years voting rights litigator. description this wrongdoing well summarized Judge Tom Lee's opinion that case, which reported 494 Supp. 440 (2007) and the Fifth Circuit Court Appeals' opinion affirming the judgment and injunctive relief against Mr. Brown and the local Democratic Executive Committee, which reported 561 420 (2009). Sometime, best recall, the winter 2003-04 wrote preliminary memorandum summarizing the evidence had that point and made recommendation what action take Noxubee County. that memorandum, recommended that the Voting Section forward with investigation under the VRA and argued that civil injunction against Ike Brown and the local Democratic Executive Committee was the most effective way stopping the pattern voting discrimination that had observed. forwarded this memorandum Joe Rich who was the Chief the Voting Section that time. later found out that Mr. Rich had forwarded the memorandum the CRD Front Office, but had omitted the portion the memorandum which discussed why was best seek civil injunctive relief the Brown case. Because aware that Mr. Rich and Mr. Hans von Spakovsky have filed conflicting affidavits this point with this Commission, believe that liberty address this issue without violating DOJ privileges. want underscore that memorandum which Mr. Rich omitted portions was not the subsequent justification memorandum that sought approval file the case Noxubee County, but was preliminary memorandum that sought permission forward with the investigation. Nevertheless, clear recollection that Mr. Rich omitted portion memorandum ---a highly unusual act ---and that was later informed the Division Front Office that Mr. Rich had stated that the omission was because did not agree with recommendation that the investigation needed forward that civil injunction should sought. Nevertheless, approval forward with the investigation was obtained from the Bush Administration CRD Front Office 2004. Once the full investigation into Ike Brown's practices commenced, opposition career personnel the Voting Section was widespread. Several examples will suffice. talked with one career attorney with whom had previously worked successfully voting case and ask him whether might interested working the Ike Brown case. informed uncertain terms that had not come the Voting Section sue African American defendants. One the social scientists who worked the Voting Section and whose responsibility was past and present research into local jurisdiction's history flatly refused participate the investigation. another occasion, Voting Section career attorney informed that was opposed bringing voting rights cases against African American defendants, such the Ike Brown case, until reached the day when the socioeconomic status blacks Mississippi was the same the socio-economic status whites living there. course, there nothing the statutory language the VRA that indicates that DOJ attorneys can decide not enforce the racial-neutral prohibitions the Act against racial discrimination intimidation until socio-economic parity achieved between blacks and whites the jurisdiction which the cases arises. But with the help one attorney and one paralegal who was new the Voting Section, and the support the CRD Front Office, were able investigate and bring suit. the time the case went into discovery and trial 2007, the Bush Administration had hired some attorneys, such Christian Adams and Joshua Rogers, who did not oppose working lawsuits this kind. They and were able complete discovery and try the case and win and obtain meaningful injunctive relief, including the removal Ike Brown from his position Superintendent the Democratic Primary elections. However, have doubt that this investigation and case would not have gone forward the decision had been ultimately made the career managers the Voting Section when the case was first approved for investigation and then filing. regrettable incident occurred during the trial the case. young African American who worked the Voting Section paralegal volunteered work the Ike Brown case, and later volunteered work the NBPP case. Because his participation the Ike Brown case, and his mother who was employee another Section the CRD were harassed attorney that other Section and administrative employee and paralegal the Voting Section. reported this the Bush Administration CRD Front Office, and the harassment was addressed. But even after the favorable ruling the Ike Brown case, opposition continued occur. meeting with CRD management 2008 concerning preparations for the general election, pointed the ruling the Ike Brown case precedent supporting race-neutral enforcement the VRA. Mark Kappelhoff, then Chief the CRD's Criminal Section, complained that the Brown case had caused the CRD problems its relationship with civil rights groups. Mr. Kappelhoffwas correct claiming that number these groups are opposed the race-neutral enforcement the VRA, that they only want the Act enforced for the benefit racial minorities, and that they had complained bitterly about the Ike Brown case. But course, what Mr. Kappelhoff had not factored his criticism the Brown case was that the primary role the CRD enforce the civil rights laws enacted Congress, not serve "crowd pleaser" for many the civil rights groups. Many those groups the issue race-neutral enforcement the VRA frankly have not pursued the goal equal protection law for all people. Instead, many these groups act, they did the Brown case, not civil rights groups, but special interest lobbies for racial and ethnic minorities and demand, not equal treatment, but enforcement the VRA only for racial and language minorities. Such claim for unequal treatment the ultimate demand for preferential racial treatment. When became Chief the Voting Section 2008 and because had experienced, have described, employees the Voting Section refusing work the Ike Brown case, began ask applicants for trial attorney positions their job interviews whether they would willing work cases that involved claims racial discrimination against white voters, well cases that involved claims discrimination against minority voters. For obvious reasons, did not want hire people who were politically ideologically opposed the equal enforcement the voting statutes the Voting Section charged with enforcing. The asking this question job interviews did not ever, knowledge, cause any problems with the applicants whom ask that question, and fact every applicant whom asked the question responded that she would have problem working case .involving white victims such the Ike Brown case. However, word that was asking applicants that question got back Loretta King. the spring of2009, Ms. King, who then had been appointed Acting AAG for Civil Rights the Obama Administration, called her office and specifically instructed that was not ask any other applicants whether they would willing to, effect, race-neutrally enforce the VRAMs. King took offense that was asking such question job applicants and directed not ask because she does not support equal enforcement the provisions the VRA and had been highly critical the filing and civil prosecution the Ike Brown case. From Ms. King's view, why should ask that question when response that applicant would not willing work case against minority election officials would not any way, her opinion, weigh against hiring that applicant work the Voting Section. The election President Obama brought positions influence and power within the CRD many the very people who had demonstrated hostility the concept equal enforcement the VRA. For example, Mr. Kapplehoff, who had complained 2008 that the Brown case had caused problems with civil rights groups, was appointed the Acting Chief Staff for the entire CRD. And Loretta King, the person who forbid even ask any applicants for Voting Section position whether she would willing enforce the VRA race-neutral manner, was appointed Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Furthermore, one the groups who had opposed the CRD's civil prosecution Ike Brown case the most adamantly was the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), through its Director Political Participation, Kristin Clark. Ms. Clarke has spent considerable amount her time attacking the CRD's decision file and prosecute the Ike Brown case. Grace Chung Becker, the Acting AAG for Civil Rights during the last year the Bush Administration, and were involved meeting the fall of2008 with representatives number civil rights organization concerning the Division's preparations for the 2008 general election. this meeting Ms. Clarke spent considerable time criticizing the Division and the Voting Section for bringing the Brown case when, fact, the district court had already ruled the case. Indeed, was reported that Ms. Clarke approached African American attorney who had been working the Voting Section for only short period time the winter 2009 before the dismissals the NBPP case and ask that attorney when the NBPP case was going dismissed. The Voting Section attorney whom refer was not even involved the NBPP case. This reported incident led believe 2009 that LDF Political Participation Director, Ms. Clarke, was lobbying for the dismissal the NBPP case. THE DECISION DISMISS AND LIMIT INJUNCTIVE RELIEF THE NBPP CASE was within this atmosphere, with these managers, and with pressure being applied organization ---NAACP LDF ---that close the Obama Administration's CRD management, that the decision gut the NBPP case was made. Although there have been recent reports that indicate that senior political appointees higher levels the Department were involved the NBPP case, was Ms. King, along with her Deputy, Steve Rosenbaum, who the Justice Department has claimed made the decision dismiss three the party-defendants the case and ordered the limitation the broader injunctive relief recommended both Voting Section and Appellate Section attorneys against the one remaining defendant. opinion that this disposition the NBP case was ordered because the people calling the shots May 2009 were angry the filing the Ike Brown case and angry our filing the NBPP case. That anger was the result their deep-seated opposition the equal enforcement the VRA against racial minorities and for the protection whites who have been discriminated against. Ms. King, Mr. Rosenbaum, Mr. Kappelhoff, Ms. Clarke, large number the people who work the Voting Section and the CRD, and many the liberal private groups that work the civil rights field believe, incorrectly but vehemently, that enforcement the protections the VRA should not extended white voters but should limited protecting racial, ethnic and language minorities. The final disposition the NBPP case, even the face default the defendants, was caused this incorrect view civil rights enforcement, and was intended send direct message people inside and outside the CRD. That message that the filing voting cases like the Ike Brown and the NBPP cases would not continue the Obama Administration. The disposition the NBPP case was not required the facts developed during the case the applicable law, has been claimed, but was because this incorrect view civil rights enforcement that war with the statutory language the VRA and with racially fair enforcement federal law. FAILURE ENFORCE SECTION anyone doubts that CRD and the Voting Section have failed enforce the VRA raceneutral manner, one only has look the enforcement the Section preclearance requirements. Those requirements mandate that federal preclearance for voting changes within the covered jurisdictions obtained for any covered change and that preclearance not given for changes that have racially discriminatory purpose effect. The statutory language Section speaks terms protecting all voters from racial discrimination. But the Voting Section has never interposed objection under Section voting change the ground that discriminated against white voters the forty-five (45) year history the Act. 1bis failure includes objections the many majority-minority jurisdictions the covered states. Indeed, the personnel the Voting Section's unit which handles Section submissions are instructed only see the change discriminates against racial, ethnic, and language minority voters. 1bis practice not enforcing Section S's protections for white voters includes jurisdictions, such Noxubee County, Mississippi where the lire Brown case arose, where white voters are the racial minority. those jurisdictions the Voting Section's failure apply Section S's protections for the white minority particularly problematic. two occasions, while was Chief the Voting Section, tried persuade officials the CRD level change this policy that white voters would protected Section appropriate circumstances, but avail. believe that present management both the CRD and the Voting Section are opposed race-neutral enforcement Section Sand continue enforce those provisions racially selective manner. REASONS GIVEN THE DOJ FOR ITS ACTIONS NBPP CASE have indicated, not going testify about the statements made during meetings with Ms. King and Mr. Rosenbaum, because the DOJ's assertion the deliberative process privilege. However, the DOJ and Mr. Perez have publicly articulated the reasons for the disposition the NBPP case, and will therefore address here several these publicly stated reasons for dismissals three the defendants and the limitation the injunctive relief. The primary reason cited the CRD for not obtaining injunctive relief against Black Panther Jerry Jackson who stood the Philadelphia polling place uniform with follow Panther King Samir Shabazz but without weapon, was that Philadelphia police officer who came the polling place made the determination that King Samir Shabazz had leave the polling place, but that Black Panther Jackson could stay because was certified Democratic Party poll watcher. During thirteen and one-half (13 112) years the Voting Section, cannot remember another situation where the decision not file suit under the VRA, much less dismiss pending claims and parties, the NBPP case, was made whole part determination local police officer. experience, officials the Voting Section and the CRA always reserved for themselves, and correctly so, the determination what behavior constitutes violation federal law, and what does not. One the reasons for this federal preemption the determination what constitutes VRA violation that local police officer not normally trained what constitutes VRA violation. addition, the Philadelphia Police Incident Report provided this Commission, the Philadelphia police officer who came the polling place did not determine that Black Panther Jackson's actions were not intimidating; instead, simply reported that Mr. Jackson was certified the Democratic Party poll watcher the polling place. Further, the history underlying the enactment and extension the VRA shows, local police occasion have had sympathy for persons who were involved behavior that adversely affected the right vote and violated the protections the VRA. this case, however, the fact that one Philadelphia police officer did not require Black Panther Jackson leave the area became such compelling piece evidence that was cited the Assistant Attorney General Perez his May 14, 2010 statement this Commission. There Mr. Perez stated that "the Department placed significant weight the responses the law enforcement first responder the Philadelphia polling place," allowing Black Panther Jackson escape default judgment and escape the entry injunctive relief against his future actions. Based upon experience, this reasoning extraordinarily strange and unpersuasive basis support the CRD's disposition the NBPP case. Another publicly stated reason the DOJ was July 13, 2009 letter Congressmen Frank Wolf and Lamar Smith that pointed out that Panther Jackson lived the apartment building whose lower level was being used the polling place. lbis reason was later abandoned the CRD, but the fact that was asserted the DOJ reason for the dismissals the NBPP case strongly suggests that was reason asserted some point close the time the dismissals. Regarding the location Black Panther Jackson's residence, our investigation determined that Jackson's claim that his residence was this apartment building was not true. However, even Black Panther,ackson had resided there, should quite clear all that such fact would not have provided him legal basis for intimidating voters. understand the irrationality these articulated reasons for gutting this case, one only has state the facts the racial reverse. Assume that two members the KKK, one which lived apartment building that was being used polling place, showed the entrance KKK uniform and that one the Klansman was carrying billy stick. Further assume that the two Klansmen were yelling racial slurs black voters who were minority people registered vote this polling place, and the K.lansmen were blocking ingress the polling place. Assume further that local policeman comes the scene and determines that the Klansman with the billy club must leave but that the other Klansman could stay because was certified poll watcher for local political party. those circumstances does anyone seriously believe that the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights would contend that the basis the facts and law, the CRD did not have case under the VRA against this hypothetical Klansman because resided the apartment building where the polling place was located, because was allowed stay the polling place local police officer because was poll watcher? certainly hope Mr. Perez would not find that hypothetical case lacking merit, and will guarantee you that Ms. King, Mr. Rosenbaum, Mr. Kappelhoff and Ms. Clarke would not either. However, such reasons are part the publicly articulated grounds for the CRD's decision instruct dismiss significant portion the NBPP case. Based upon own personal knowledge the events surrounding the NBPP case and the atmosphere that has existed the CRD and the Voting Section against racially fair enforcement certain federal voting laws, not believe these publicly stated representations this Commission and other entities accurately reflect what occurred the NBPP case. They not knowledge the hostile atmosphere that has existed within the CRD against race-neutral enforcement the VRA. MS. FERNANDEZ'S STATEMENTS THE VOTING SECTION the summer 2009, Julie Fernandez was appointed the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights the Obama Administration. One her responsibilities oversee the Voting Section. Ms. Fernandez and had worked together the Voting Section during the Clinton Administration. She had spent years working for civil rights groups since our Clinton Administration days, mainly with the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights, but hoped that she might have enforcement approach different than Ms. King's and Mr. Rosenbaum's. was disappointed. Mr. Fernandez began scheduling lunches the conference room the Voting Section which times the various statutes the Voting Section has the responsibility for enforcing were discussed well other enforcement activities. September 2009, Ms. Fernandez held such meeting discuss enforcement the anti-discrimination provisions Section the VRA. this meeting one the Voting Section trial attorneys asked Ms. Fernandez what criteria would used determine what type Section cases the CRD Front Office would interested pursuing. Ms. Fernandez responded telling the gathering that the Obama Administration was only interested bringing traditional types Section cases that would provide political equality for racial and language minority voters, and she went say that this what are all about, words that effect. When Ms. Fernandez made that statement, everyone the room understood exactly what she meant ---no more cases like the Ike Brown NBPP cases. Ms. Fernandez reiterated that directive another meeting held December 2009 the subject federal observer election coverage, which she stated the entire group attendance that the Voting Section's goal was ensure equal access for voters color minority language. November 2009, similar lunch meeting was held Ms. Fernandez the subject the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The NVRA has three provisions that have led enforcement activity the Voting Section. The first Section which requires that certain government offices, such the local office that provides public assistance, also provide their clients the opportunity register vote. The other two provisions the NVRA are found Section that Act. They require states ensure that voter registration list maintenance conducted that registration lists not have the names persons who are longer eligible vote the jurisdiction. Further, Section also provides that certain notice procedures are followed order legally remove persons from voter registration list. discussions specifically addressing the list maintenance provision Section the NVRA, Ms. Fernandez stated that list maintenance had with the administration elections. She went say that the Obama Administration was not interested that type issue, but instead interested issues that pertained voter access. During the Bush Administration, the Voting Section began filing cases under the list maintenance provision Section compel states and local registration officials remove ineligible voters. These suits were very unpopular with number the groups that work the area voting rights. When Ms. Fernandez told the Voting Section that the Obama Administration was not interested Section list maintenance enforcement activity, everyone the room understood exactly what she meant. understood that she was not talking about Section cases which there claim that the removal procedures Section were not being complied with; instead, she was talking about the types cases that the Voting Section filed during the Bush Administration whose purpose was compel the states comply with the Section directive that they list maintenance removing ineligibles from the list. June 2009, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) issued its bi-annual report concering which states appeared not complying with Section S's list maintenance requirements. The report identified eight states that appeared the worst terms their non-compliance with the list maintenance requirements Section These were states that reported that voters had been removed from any their voters' list the last two years. Obviously, this good indication that something not right with the list maintenance practices that state. Chief the Voting Section, assigned attorneys work this matter, and September 2009, forwarded memorandum the CRD Front Office asking for approval forward with Section list maintenance investigations these states. During the time that was Chief, approval was given this project, and understanding that approval has never been given for that Section list maintenance project date. That means that have entered the 2010 election cycle with eight states appearing major noncompliance with the list maintenance requirements Section the NVRA, and yet the Voting Section which has the responsibility enforce that law has yet take any action. From these circumstances believe that Ms. Fernandez's statement the Voting Section November 2009 not to, effect, initiate Section list maintenance enforcement activities has been complied with. Mr. Perez's letter this Commission August 11, 2010, stated that the CRD currently has active matters under the NVRA, "including investigations under Section 8." making this statement, not believe Mr. Perez was referring Section list maintenance cases, the kind cases Ms. Fernandez was referring when she talked about interest enforcing Section because not believe that Voting Section has recently been involved any list maintenance enforcement during the Obama Administration. believe that federal prosecutors, criminal and civil, have prosecutorial discretion deciding how are going use our resources, but not think that discretion goes far allow decide not any enforcement law enacted Congress, because political appointees determine that they are not interested enforcing that law. That abuse prosecutorial discretion. Further, not enforce the list maintenance provisions Section are likely have partisan consequences well. number the jurisdictions that have bloated voter registration lists are where there are sizable minority populations and are Democratic strongholds. For example, the time the trial the Ike Brown case, the Noxubee County Election Commission had not purged its list, required Mississippi law and Section the NVRA, that the number persons the voter registration list was approximately 130 percent the number people that county who were eighteen (18) years older. Congress recognized enacting the list maintenance provisions Section bloated voter registration lists increase the risk voter fraud. THE IMPORTANCE RACIAL-NEUTRAL ENFORCEMENT THE VRA Equal enforcement the VRA absolutely essential for number reasons. First, required the statutory language the VRACongress did not use statutory language that speaks terms discrimination against racial language minorities, but terms discrimination the basis race color. extending and amending Section the Act 2006, the Congress used the term "any voter", not racial ethnic minority voters. Further, the statutory construction given the VRA the courts supports that the Act written race-neutral terms and intended for the protection all. When work with the DOJ, all take oath faithfully enforce the laws the United States. Enforcing the VRA racially selectively manner choosing not enforce certain provisions federal voting law not compliance with the oaths that have taken. Second, when the VRA was originally enacted 1965, probably did not make great deal difference, practical matter, whether its prohibitions against race discrimination and intimidation were enforced against minority wrongdoers well white wrongdoers. During that time period, there were very few minority election officials the overwhelming majority jurisdictions, and number jurisdictions there were minority election officials. However, during the last forty-five (45) years, the United States has changed for the better. Large numbers minority persons now serve election and poll officials hundreds jurisdictions throughout America. such multi-racial and multi-cultural country, not the one Bull Connor Ross Barnett, but the country which African American serves the President and the Attorney General the United States, and absolutely essential that the VRA enforced equally against all racial and ethnic groups. During years the Voting Section, and particularly during the time served management capacity, became acutely aware based complaints and conducting investigations that sizable number voting illegalities are committed members racial and ethnic minorities. Noxubee County, Mississippi prime example. Noxubee was not, some critics have claimed, mere aberration. Let give you two other examples. During the time was Chief the Voting Section, conducted prolonged investigation Wilkinson County, Mississippi, majority-black county the southwestern part the State. long battle between all-black faction and racially integrated faction had been going for substantial period time that country. Relations between the two factions had reached the point where the allblack faction would not allow members the racially-integrated faction play any role the conduct the local elections, including the counts absentee ballots the choosing persons work the polls. After local election Wilkinson County 2007, the home white candidate for local office was burned. one was ever prosecuted for this burning, and the burning this candidate's home never received any natioual attention. The Voting Section the end did not file VRA lawsuit Wilkinson County for number reasons, including the pendency multiple election contests i;tate courts during the time our investigation and the fear that the filing suit the DOJ would suggest were talcing sides election disputes. did send federal observers elections there, including the 2008 election. came away from the Wilkinson County investigation with the clear impression that African American officials there were involved voting-related acts racial discrimination against whites. addition 2005, conducted investigation Hale and Perry Counties, Alabama, two other majority-black counties. Again, there were political factions these counties with one faction all-black and the other racially integrated faction. There were multiple claims the racially integrated faction absentee ballot and other types voter fraud being perpetrated the all-black factions these counties. While investigating Hale County, learned that there had been recent highly contentious election, and the night that election, election materials, including absentee ballots, were placed for safe keeping local bank vault that those materials could reviewed the next morning election officials. Overnight that bank was set fire. one was ever prosecuted for that burning. Again, the Voting Section did not end filing VRA lawsuit either these Alabama counties for number reasons, including on-going voting fraud investigations the state Attorney General's office those counties. have recently learned that several African American political officials have been convicted for absentee ballot fraud Hale County. Again, came away from the Hale and Perry County investigations with the clear impression that some individual African Americans those counties were involved acts racial discrimination against whites. pointing these examples out, not suggesting that minority election and poll officials minority political activists are more likely commit voting law violations than are their white counterparts. What pointing out that believe that some minorities are just likely resort lawlessness the voting area are some whites. For the CRD and Voting Section pursue enforcement practices that ignore VRA violations members minority groups will encourage lawlessness the voting area those who will have fear that the Federal Government will enforce the federal law against them. our increasingly multiethnic society, that clear recipe undennine the public's confidence the legitimacy our electoral process. have heard some argue that prosecutors, both criminal and civil, have prosecutorial discretion that gives attorneys the CRD and the Voting Section the authority not bring VRA lawsuits against minority.wrongdoers. certainly true that prosecutors have discretion decide what cases bring based upon resource issues and other legal considerations. But not have the discretion decide not enforce the law based upon the race the perpetrators the race the victims the wrongdoing. Those discretionary decisions cannot constitutionally based upon race. conclusion, thank you for the time you have given testify these important enforcement issues. commend the Civil Rights Commission for making inquiries into these areas. Individuals good will, regardless their race, ethnicity language-minority status, should concerned about the CRD not enforcing laws race-neutral manner. important the mandate the VRA protect minority voters, white voters also have interest being able the polls without having race-haters such Black Panther King Samir Shabazz whose public rhetoric includes such statements "kill cracker babies" standing the entrance the polling place with billy club his hand hurling racial slurs. Given this outrageous conduct, was travesty justice for the DOJ not allow attorneys the Voting Section obtain nation-wide injunctive relief against all four the defendants.