J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky have a problem. For some time now, these right-wing operatives and former Justice Department lawyers have been beating the drum over the Obama Justice Department's actions in the New Black Panthers pseudoscandal. With that manufactured controversy continuing to fall apart, they are now desperately lashing out at perceived enemies in a frantic attempt to salvage it.
According to them, the decision by senior career lawyers at DOJ to drop charges against some of the defendants in the case demonstrates racially biased corruption. These claims never stood up to scrutiny, and now, according to Adams' DOJ sources, the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility is preparing to issue a report that will find that the attorneys who overruled Adams and his trial team did not act improperly.
Adams and von Spakovsky are responding by declaring that "the fix is in" and that the report is a "whitewash" (yes, they both use the exact same language). They are also attacking OPR and its head as "partisan." The irony is thick.
Media Matters' Simon Maloy details below how the Fox Cycle -- in which right-wing attacks go mainstream with the help of the network before being inevitably debunked -- bore fruit this morning as Republican members of Congress questioned Attorney General Eric Holder about the Fox-pushed New Black Panthers Party phony scandal.
But that same congressional hearing also saw the birth of a new transmission belt for conservative attacks. I'll call this one the Adams Cycle, after its propagator J. Christian Adams, the GOP operative and former DOJ attorney who started the New Black Panthers Party fabrication.
The Adams Cycle goes as follows:
1. Sources at DOJ -- almost definitely conservative attorneys hired under the Bush administration's politicization of that department -- leak information or documents to Adams.
2. Adams attacks DOJ with bogus story based on leaked information.
3. Republican representative raises bogus story during House hearing, crediting Adams.
4. DOJ shoots down story.
The Fox Cycle may -- but does not necessarily have to -- kick in between steps 2 and 3 of the Adams Cycle.
Here's today's example.
From the February 12 coverage of CPAC 2011:
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Conservative wannabe-whistleblower J. Christian Adams is banging the (same) drum again, repeating claims that his former employers, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama's Department of Justice, are unwilling to protect the rights of white voters. Republicans sent him invitations to testify before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, he's scheduled to speak at CPAC, and now The Washington Times has provided him another opportunity to advance his fabrications, and therefore presumably his stature as a conservative icon, in his latest diatribe intended to promote the New Black Panther Party phony story.
The content of the latest Adams column is nothing new. He begins by claiming that scurrilous DOJ enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are sufficient to make the Act unconstitutional under a theory of unequal enforcement on the basis of race... if only the U.S. Supreme Court were made aware of what's going on at DOJ (guess where Adams comes in?).
Adams repeats the bogus claim that the Obama administration's actions in Noxubee County, MS, show that the DOJ engages in a racial double standard with regard to enforcing election laws. He opines in The Washington Times:
Eric H. Holder Jr.'s Justice Department has become notorious for enforcing election laws with a racial double standard. From the corrupt dismissal of the New Black Panther voter-intimidation case to the refusal to enforce voter integrity laws, Mr. Holder's tenure has been politicized and race-based.
The Supreme Court may be surprised to learn that the Justice Department refuses to conduct any analysis under Section 5 when the racial minority is white, as is the case in many towns and counties covered by Section 5.
This failure to enforce the law equally is not simply a theoretical problem. There are real victims.
During the George W. Bush years, the department brought and won a discrimination case in rural Noxubee County, Miss., against a black official who used fraud and lawlessness to discriminate against the white minority. Yet when a submission under Section 5 was made by this same wrongdoer to facilitate continued discrimination in 2010, the Holder Justice Department didn't even review the discriminatory proposal under Section 5.
Why not? Because Mr. Holder's Justice Department believes as a matter of policy that its resources should not be used to enforce Section 5 on behalf of white victims.
However, as we've noted, this is entirely inaccurate. What the DOJ actually did when the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee submitted their request was state that only the "Referee-Administrator" assigned during the Bush years had standing to make a determination. The Justice Department then asked the court to prohibit those plans from moving forward. DOJ stated that by submitting the request in the first place, the defendants were in violation of the Bush-era injunction, concluding:
The Defendants have violated the Remedial Order in this case in two ways. First, the Defendants have assumed electoral duties that this Court has exclusively reserved for the Referee-Administrator. Second, the evidence surrounding the Defendants' decision to implement this new party loyalty standard indicates that, like the party loyalty standard previously implemented by Defendants in Noxubee County, its genesis is one that is, at least in part, racially motivated.
DOJ also sought to extend the injunction against the NCDEC and their leader, Ike Brown, specifically citing potential harm to white voters. The DOJ filing read:
The current effort by the Defendants is a part of the same pattern of behavior described by the Court in its liability opinion, in which Mr. Brown was seen to combine partisan motives with underlying racial motives. In the liability opinion, the Court noted that the list of 174 voters Mr. Brown threatened to challenge on party loyalty grounds included only white voters, despite the presence of black voters who met the terms of his party loyalty standard. Brown, 494 F. Supp. 2d at 476. These facts established that Mr. Brown's actions were motivated in part by racial concerns.
The United States therefore respectfully requests that the Court enjoin the Defendants from making any attempt to enforce the provisions of their "Motion to close Democratic Primary."
There's no doubt that, as a career attorney and a conservative, the strength of Adams' personal brand depends upon the credibility of his Holder/DOJ attacks. Unfortunately for him, the DOJ's actions in the Noxubee case are in fact a "smoking gun" of proof that the administration is keeping a just and vigilant eye on the concerns of all U.S. voters, regardless of race.
For some reason, ever since Barack Obama became president of the United States, the right wing has been stumbling from one race-baiting claim to the next. But a blog post today pulls a number of those absurd strands together. J. Christian Adams - the ringleader of the right's phony New Black Panthers scandal - is linking that conspiracy to recent Pigford-Cobell settlements to black farmers and Native Americans as "controversial racialist policies of the Obama Administration."
And he's doing it at BigGovernment.com, the Andrew Breitbart website well-known for smearing former Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod as a racist.
Adam's link between the two is "leftist" Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli. According to Adams, Perelli is responsible for "a race-driven political payoff by the Obama Administration to a favored political constituency" in the form of "a $4.6 billion payout to American Indians and black farmers as part of a settlement of alleged race discrimination claims."
In reality, the bill recently passed by the Senate and the House funds settlements in the Pigford and Cobell cases. Pigford deals with well-documented discrimination against black farmers by the Agriculture Department. Cobell involves massive management malfeasance with regard to Indian trust accounts .
How "controversial" were those settlements? Their funding passed the Senate by voice vote. No senator was concerned enough about the settlements to even deny passage by unanimous consent. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley has been a longtime champion of the Pigford settlement; on passage of the bill, the Cobell plaintiffs thanked Republican Sens. Grassley, John Barrasso, and Jon Kyl for their action. But it involves President Obama and minorities, so for people like Adams and Breitbart, it must be, as Rush Limbaugh puts it, "reparations."
Adams also paints Perelli as being "behind the dismissal of the already won DOJ case against the New Black Panthers who organized and ran an armed voter intimidation effort the day Obama was elected." He suggests that this was due to "the New Black Panther's endorsement of candidate Obama during the primaries," because surely every presidential candidate dreams of the cachet that comes with the endorsement of a fringe hate group.
In reality, the Justice Department successfully obtained default judgment against a member of the New Black Panther Party who was carrying a nightstick outside the Philadelphia polling center, but dropped civil charges against other defendants. No voter has ever emerged to state they were intimidated at the time.
Adams' evidence that Perelli played a "central role" in the case is that there were "emails between Perrelli and his top political lieutenants supervising the lawsuit" about the case. Adams' previous writings on this issue reveal that the most damning email he's uncovered from Perelli states simply, "Where are we on the Black Panther case?" This seems consistent with testimony from Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, who has said that "Whenever there is a decision involving a case that has attracted attention, we -- when the decision is made, we obviously communicate that up the chain." That seems pretty reasonable.
But as J. Christian Adams, GOP activist, knows well, you don't get booked on Fox News by making sense; you get booked by claiming that the Obama administration is racist.
Washington Examiner editorial page editor Mark Tapscott writes in an October 12 blog post: "Nobody knows with certainty how many illegal votes were cast in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections, but odds are the total was in the millions, thanks to systematic vote fraud campaigns by leftist groups such as ACORN and mis-guided laws that allow individuals to register and vote on the same day."
Tapscott, however, offers no evidence of "systematic vote fraud" that resulted in "illegal votes" numbering "in the millions" -- perhaps because it didn't happen. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2008, election experts say that voter registration issues that had been associated with ACORN rarely result in fraudulent votes being cast because false and duplicate registrations are typically weeded out. The Chronicle goes on to state that "it's virtually impossible to pull off large-scale voter fraud without being discovered."
Tapscott's reference to ACORN is nothing more than yet another invocation of a right-wing bogeyman that has become so played out that it was getting tossed around indiscriminately; The Wall Street Journal's John Fund, for instance, insisted that one purported case involved people who allegedly "associated in the past with Acorn" that "may have" been involved in "advising" people "on how to perform" voter fraud, citing unnamed "local politicos." Scaremongering aside, Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall has pointed out that any actual vote fraud cases allegedly involving ACORN have been isolated.
Tapscott's baseless claim came in service to promoting Pajamas Media's "Voter Fraud Watch." He touted how one prominent name linked to Pajamas Media's project is "J. Christian Adams, the courageous former Justice Department attorney who blew the whistle on the Obama administration's craven cave-in to Political Correctness and left-wing ideology in the New Black Panthers Case."
The supposed "legal expertise" Adams intends to provide to "Voter Fraud Watch" doesn't exactly enhance the credibility of Pajamas Media's little project.
Right-wing activists J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky are looking to reignite the phony New Black Panther Party scandal, claiming that emails between political appointees and career Justice attorneys are "stunning new developments in the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) voter-intimidation scandal" and "proof" that the "DOJ lied" and "may also have committed perjury before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights."
In fact, Justice Department officials have long made clear that political appointees were kept informed of the decision-making process as it developed -- a fact that is in no way at odds with the statement that career attorneys made the final decision.
At issue is an index of communications -- commonly referred to as a Vaughn index -- between Justice Department lawyers from April and May 2009, released in response to a public records request from Judicial Watch.
According to Judicial Watch, the emails "contradict testimony" given by Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez before the Civil Rights Commission in May, specifically Perez's statements that the decision not to pursue additional charges in the case was made by career attorneys and that political leadership was not involved in the decision.
Fox News is attempting to breathe new life into the phony New Black Panthers scandal it mercilessly and intensely hyped throughout the summer. National correspondent Catherine Herridge reported today on what she herself called "a routine meeting" at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights where "what we anticipated is a status report on their investigation" and "a draft report of somewhere between 25 and 30 pages, with the final report" expected "several months down the road." Given the fact that the Republican vice chairwoman of the commission has said the investigation is nothing more than an effort by conservatives on the commission to "topple" the Obama administration, Fox News' continued coverage should be seen as nothing more than its political activism masquerading as journalism.
Herridge reported live outside the Civil Rights Commission and said the commissioners "opened the meeting with a brief update," and then "began to discuss a letter that was sent by the Justice Department on August 11 to the commission, about whether the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is even handed in its application of the law, in this particular area. And then, the meeting quickly began to spiral out of control." Herridge explained:
Well, there are a number of frustrations. Members of the panel want to speak to personnel within the Justice Department about the investigation, and the handling under Eric Holder, the Attorney General, of the particular case in Philadelphia in November of 2008. They would like to talk to members, what they have told each other at the meeting, also in a number of written communications, is that they are not getting good cooperation and they have issued subpoenas but those subpoenas have not been enforced to date.
Of course, members of the commission have spoken to personnel within the Justice Department about the "handling under Eric Holder" of the New Black Panther Party case.
After trumpeting GOP activist J. Christian Adams' fabricated New Black Panthers Party story, Fox News is now reporting his false claim the Department of Justice is "ignoring" a military voting law by allegedly "encourag[ing]" states to use waivers to bypass the law. In fact, the waiver process is built into the law, and Adams offered no specific evidence to support his claim that DOJ is "encourag[ing]" states to use those waivers.
In an effort to salvage the discredited allegations of racism in the Justice Department, Hans Von Spakovsky now claims that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights investigation is "no longer primarily about" the phony New Black Panther Party scandal. Instead, he claims, it's about "sworn testimony" that DOJ official Julie Fernandes "instructed Voting Section lawyers that no cases would be brought against any black or other minority defendants no matter how egregious their violations of the law."
Von Spakovsky did not say what "sworn testimony" established this, but in his testimony, DOJ activist and so-called "whistleblower" J. Christian Adams testified that he "was told by Voting Section management that cases are not going to be brought against black defendants for the benefit of white victims." Adams' accusation, however, is based entirely on conjecture and hearsay:
DAVID BLACKWOOD (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights general counsel): That is extremely important -- these instructions. Were you there when they were given?
ADAMS: I was -- I was present at one instance when the statement was made, and Mr. Coates gave me a recollection of a second time that instructions were given in a management situation.
BLACKWOOD: Okay. The first time, when you were present, who made the statement?
ADAMS: Okay. Two things. The statement was that we were in the business of doing traditional civil rights work, and, of course, everybody knows what that means, and helping minorities -- helping -- litigating on their behalf.
That statement was made by Julie Fernandes, who is the DAAG.
This is nowhere near establishing that Fernandes ever said that "cases are not going to be brought against black defendants for the benefit of white victims." And in fact, the Obama Justice Department has twice pursued injunctions against black defendants for voting law violations.
J. Christian Adams' accusations that President Obama's Justice Department engaged in racially charged "corruption" in the New Black Panther Party case do not stand up to the evidence. Adams is a right-wing activist tied to the Bush-era politicization of the Justice Department who has admitted he lacks first-hand knowledge of the events he is discussing, and his claims fall apart given the fact that the Obama DOJ obtained judgment against one defendant, while the Bush DOJ declined to pursue similar allegations in 2006.
Earlier today, J. Christian Adams called on readers to "ponder" how the Justice Department's handling of voter intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party could "restrain future enforcement activity against intimidation." Imagine, Adams asks, if the allegations involved white men harassing minority voters:
Think about this -- even taking the facts in the most favorable light for the defenders of the dismissal, ponder how it restrains future enforcement activity against intimidation. There may come a day when two skinheads are in front of a poll, say, in suburban Atlanta. The precinct is 90 percent white, but about 10 percent African-American. One has a baseball bat, but the other does not. They are dressed identically in skinhead uniforms with swastika insignia. They work together and shout racial slurs we all know and hate. Worse, the week before, the national skinhead party had announced a nationwide deployment of skinheads, and these clowns show up on cue. NAACP poll monitors there to aid voters see voters turn away upon seeing the skinheads. The skinheads try to block the NAACP staff from entering the polls, and brandish the bat. The NAACP staff swear this all happened under oath. Then days later the national skinhead leader admits they were indeed deployed as part of the party activities and the use of the weapon was an "emergency response."
Worse, after claiming to banish these two skinheads, video emerges with the national leader standing on stage with the two at a rally, praising them and welcoming them back into the skinhead nation.
Every American knows what should happen on these facts. Sadly, these facts are precisely identical to what happened in Philadelphia, except the races are reversed.
Someone with some intellectual honesty please explain to all of us something. In the future, how can the DOJ stop the behavior I described above? The dismissal of the case against the New Black Panthers harms future efforts to stop voter intimidation, especially on any fact pattern less egregious than what happened in Philadelphia.
The only thing devoid of intellectual honesty here is Adams' argument. Adams joined the Bush-era Justice Department voting section in 2005. According to Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, the Justice Department in 2006 declined to bring charges against members of the Minutemen, one of whom reportedly carried a gun while they allegedly attempted to intimidate Hispanic voters outside a polling station in Arizona. By contrast, the Justice Department under the Obama administration successfully obtained default judgment against Samir Shabazz, the member of the New Black Panther Party who carried a weapon outside a polling station on Election Day 2008. The Obama DOJ has also requested additional judgment against black leaders in Mississippi who were found to have discriminated against white voters.
Of course, in 2006 Fox News never told the media to cover the alleged voter intimidation.
After reporting on the right-wing accusation that racial bias motivated the Justice Department to drop charges against members of the New Black Panther Party, major print outlets have not reported that the Republican vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has stated that conservatives on the panel are using the issue to try to "topple the [Obama] administration."
Fox News figures have used J. Christian Adams' unsubstantiated allegations to suggest that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder were involved in the Justice Department's decision in the New Black Panthers case. However, Adams himself testified that he had no "indication" that the decision involved anyone "higher up" than an acting assistant attorney general.
Race-baiting has been a central element to the phony New Black Panthers scandal from the start, despite the fact that right-wing activist J. Christian Adams' accusations do not stand up to the evidence. But court filings earlier this week, in which the Obama Justice Department is asking a federal court to extend its injunction against black leaders in Mississippi for discriminating against white voters, should end once and for all the scurrilous accusation that the Obama administration is hostile to prosecuting black defendants on behalf of white victims.
In 2007, a federal court found that Ike Brown, the black chairman of the Noxubee (Mississippi) County Democratic Executive Committee, had engaged in systematic discrimination against white voters and appointed Judge Reuben Anderson to oversee Democratic primaries and runoffs though 2011. The Associated Press called the case "the first of its kind in the country, accusing black political leaders of discriminating against white voters." Earlier this week, the Obama Justice Department filed a motion to prevent Brown from establishing a closed Democratic Primary that the DOJ argued would discriminate against white voters. The Justice Department asked the court to extend its 2007 injunction for two years and to ensure that Brown could not seek to implement voting changes during that time. The DOJ's actions in the Noxubee case further destroys the accusation leveled by right-wing activists that the Obama Justice Department is engaging in race-based justice.
Incredibly, J. Christian Adams and The Washington Times present the DOJ's handling of the case as further evidence of its hostility toward white victims. In a July 13 Pajamas Media post, Adams wrote that "the Department of Justice blew an opportunity to put to rest the issue of whether they are willing to enforce the Voting Rights Act in a race-neutral fashion by objecting to a request by a proven discriminator to further discriminate." Adams said that the Justice Department's handling of the case showed that "they do not want whites and Asians, when they are the discriminated-against minority, to be protected under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act." According to The Washington Times, the Obama Justice Department "did not object" to Brown's request and "issued a 'no determination' letter that ... effectively leaves the issue open for another day."