Two former U.S. Department of Justice attorneys have corroborated key elements of the explosive allegations by a third former attorney that the Voting Section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is refusing to enforce the law against black defendants.
On July 6, former DOJ attorney J. Christian Adams testified before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission that the Voting Section is dominated by a “culture of hostility” toward bringing cases against blacks and other minorities who violate voting-rights laws.
One of Adams’ DOJ colleagues, former Voting Section trial attorney Hans A. von Spakovsky, told WND he saw Adams was being attacked in the media for lack of corroboration. He said he knew Adams was telling the truth, so he decided on his own to step forward.
In an affidavit dated yesterday, von Spakovsky stated, “I can confirm from my own experience as a career lawyer that there was a dominant attitude within the Division and the Voting Section of hostility towards the race-neutral enforcement of voting-rights law.”
Von Spakovsky also asked another old colleague, former DOJ Special Counsel for Voting Matters Karl S. Bowers Jr., to go on the record. Bowers is now in private practice in South Carolina.
In his own affidavit, Bowers stated: “In my experience, there was a pervasive culture in the Civil Rights Division and within the Voting Section of apathy and in some cases outright hostility towards race-neutral enforcement of voting-rights laws among large segments of career attorneys.”
In his affidavit, von Spakovsky, now a Senior Legal Fellow in the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., backed up Adams’ testimony that Voting Section staff lawyers were harassed by their colleagues for working on a case brought against a black activist.
According to von Spakovsky, former Voting Section Chief Christopher Coates was harassed “over his work on the Brown case because they did not believe that the Justice Department should file any lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act against black defendants, no matter how egregious their violations of the law.”
Von Spakovsky also confirmed Adams’ allegations that the DOJ has brought “hundreds” of cases against white defendants but only two cases against black defendants. He agreed with Adams that DOJ’s dismissal of most charges in one of the cases after the Obama administration took over in 2009, the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case, was “unprecedented.”
In his affidavit, von Spakovsky further confirmed Adams’ allegation that the DOJ is deliberately refusing to enforce Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act, widely known as the “Motor Voter” law. Section 8 requires state and local election officials to remove ineligible voters from voter lists.
According to Adams, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes, an Obama appointee, told Voting Section employees the department “has no interest in enforcing” Section 8 because “it has nothing to do with increasing turnout.”
Von Spakovsky told WND the administration’s refusal to enforce Section 8 is politically motivated.
“The left doesn’t like Section 8, because they want as many people on the rolls as possible, even if they’re ineligible.”
Von Spakovsky contended that enough ineligible felons voted in Minnesota to catapult the Democratic candidate, comedian Al Franken, to victory in the razor-thin 2008 U.S. Senate race.
Adams, now a PajamasMedia blogger, alleged in a blog post yesterday: “The Department is not allowing Christopher Coates to comply with his subpoena [from the U.S. Civil Rights Commission]. These two affidavits give you an abbreviated understanding about why that is. If he were permitted to appear and tell the truth, the lid blows off.”
Von Spakovsky said the DOJ was placing Coates in an “untenable” position by ordering him not to comply with the subpoena, forcing him to choose between exposing himself to legal jeopardy and keeping his job.
Adams resigned from the department now run by Attorney General Eric Holder after Adams was ordered by his superiors to drop a case prosecutors already had won – the notorious New Black Panther Party intimidation of voters in a majority-black precinct in urban Philadelphia on Election Day in 2008.
Amateur videographers had caught New Black Panther Party activists on video wielding a baton, intimidating the elderly black man serving as the Republican poll watcher.
One of the four New Black Panther Party members charged in the case is also an elected Democrat holding a local office.
When they were ordered to stop prosecution, Adams and the team of DOJ lawyers had already won the case by default because the New Black Panthers declined to defend themselves in court. At that point in the proceedings, the DOJ team was simply waiting for the judge to assign penalties against the New Black Panthers.
Adams claimed that the decision to drop the case was made by Obama political appointees. Dropping a case that was already won was “unprecedented,” he said.
Adams alleged that many DOJ employees, both career civil servants and political appointees, have told him that the DOJ “doesn’t have the resources” to enforce the voting-rights laws in a “race-neutral” manner by bringing cases against members of minority groups who violate the law. Others have refused to work on either of the two cases against black perpetrators, saying, “I didn’t join the voting-rights division to sue black people.”
Adams said one DOJ staffer told his former superior, Christopher Coates, then the chief of the DOJ’s Voting Section, “Can you believe we’re being sent down to Mississippi to defend white people?” He reported another staffer told Coates, “the Brown case has gotten us into so much trouble with civil-rights groups.”
According to Adams, some members of the DOJ Voting Section staff were “harassed” by other members “for working on the Brown case.” An internal department investigation led to sanctions against some staffers for “badgering” others because they worked on the Brown case and held “evangelical religious views.”
According to Adams, Coates suffered humiliation and the gradual loss of his power because he supported the case against the New Black Panther Party. Adams repeatedly urged the members of the commission to bring Coates in to testify about the department’s hostility toward bringing cases against minority members.
As WND reported, the Justice Department originally brought the case against four armed men who witnesses say derided voters with catcalls of “white devil” and “cracker” and told voters they should prepare to be “ruled by the black man.”
One poll watcher called police after he reportedly saw one of the men brandishing a nightstick to threaten voters.
“As I walked up, they closed ranks, next to each other,” the witness told Fox News at the time. “So I walked directly in between them, went inside and found the poll watchers. They said they’d been here for about an hour. And they told us not to come outside because a black man is going to win this election no matter what.”
He said the man with a nightstick told him, “‘We’re tired of white supremacy,’ and he starts tapping the nightstick in his hand. At which point I said, ‘OK, we’re not going to get in a fistfight right here,’ and I called the police.”
Judicial Watch, which investigates and prosecutes government corruption, filed a lawsuit seeking the government’s documentation about the case.
The 2008 election incident in Philadelphia has appeared on video on YouTube:
As WND reported, two men, Minister King Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson, wearing paramilitary uniforms and armed with a nightstick, blocked a doorway to a polling location to intimidate voters. Shabazz is leader of the Philadelphia chapter of the New Black Panther Party.
The Justice Department’s complaint was under Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 against four defendants: the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and its leader, Malik Zulu Shabazz, and the two men who appeared at the Philadelphia polling place Nov. 4, 2008. The complaint accused them of attempting to engage in, and engaging in, both voter intimidation and intimidation of individuals aiding voters.
A federal judge ordered default judgments against the Panthers after party members refused to appear in court. The Washington Times reported the Justice Department was seeking sanctions when Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general who had been granted a political appointment by President Obama in January 2009 to temporarily fill the position, ordered a delay in the proceedings. According to the report, the ruling was issued after King met with Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, the department’s No. 3 political appointee, who approved the decision.
The case was dismissed May 15, 2009, Adams told Fox News.
“All the charges were dropped against three of the defendants and the final order against one of the defendants was a timid restraint.”
Only one of four defendants faced punishment: a temporary injunction against appearing at Philadelphia polls with a weapon. The department stopped at the injunction and didn’t call for criminal penalties, monetary damages or other civil penalties.
“We were ordered to dismiss the case,” Adams said. “I mean, we were told drop the charges against the New Black Panther Party.”
The Department of Justice said it made a decision based on evidence that the case could not go forward.
Reacting to Adams’ statement the DOJ told Fox News:
The department sought and obtained an injunction against the Black Panther who had a nightstick at the polling station. After a thorough review, the facts did not support the case against the other defendants in the case. It is not uncommon for attorneys within the department to have good-faith disagreements about the appropriate course of action in a particular case, although it is regrettable when a former department attorney distorts the facts and makes baseless allegations to promote his or her agenda.
But Adams said high-ranking DOJ officials did not review the facts of the case nor the briefs before making that call.