Information obtained from the Obama Department of Justice by the Washington-based government monitor Judicial Watch appears to document that a political operative participated in the decision to drop large portions of a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party
that essentially already had been won.
Judicial Watch announced in a statement today that it has forced the disclosure of the existence of documents “indicating Democratic election lawyer Sam Hirsch was involved in the DOJ decision to dismiss its voting rights case against the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense.”
“These documents show the Obama Justice Department’s decision to drop the Black Panther case was certainly political and potentially corrupt,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said today.
“The Black Panther decision is a scandal for the Obama administration, and it merits serious attention by investigators,” he continued. “Assistant Attorney General Perez seems to have been less than candid in his sworn testimony when he said no political appointees were involved in the decision.
“The scandal has just gotten a whole lot worse for the Obama Justice Department,” he said.
Federal authorities originally brought a case against the New Black Panther Party over an incident that took place outside a Philadelphia polling station Nov. 4, 2008.
A video of the incident, showing a member of the New Black Panther Party brandishing a police-style baton weapon, was widely distributed on the Internet.
“According to multiple witnesses, members of the New Black Panthers blocked access to polling stations, harassed voters and hurled racial epithets,” Judicial Watch said. “Nonetheless, the Justice Department ultimately overruled the recommendations of its own staff and dismissed the majority of its charges.”
But the new documentation includes details about a series of e-mails between Assistant Deputy Attorney General Steve Rosenbaum and Deputy Associate Attorney General Sam Hirsch, who, according to Judicial Watch, “was described by ‘Slate’ magazine as a ‘DC election lawyer who represents a lot of Democrats.’”
The revelations included:
An “E-mail Chain with Attachments” from Rosenbaum to Hirsch dated April 30, 2009: The e-mail chain includes ‘…a detailed response and analysis of the proposed draft filings in NBPP (New Black Panther Party) litigation…The response includes a candid assessment of legal research and raises questions about the case law and proposed relief….This document also contains attorney discussion, opinions, and analyses of the draft documents and case law.”
But Perez told the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on May 14, 2010, that there was no such participation.
According to Judicial Watch, the exchange went:
Commissioner Kirsanow: Was there any political leadership involved in the decision not to pursue this particular case any further than it was?
Assistant Attorney General Perez: The decisions were made by Loretta King in consultation with Steve Rosenbaum, who is the acting deputy assistant attorney general.
As the video reveals, a member of the New Black Panther Party was “brandishing [a] police-style baton weapon,” and according to witnesses he “harassed voters and hurled racial epithets.”
Judicial Watch said, for example, a May 10, 2009, e-mail from Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, the third highest ranking official in the DOJ, asks “Deputy Associate Attorney General and former Democratic election lawyer Sam Hirsch,” “Where are we on the Black Panther Case?”
It includes Ogden’s “current thoughts on the case.”
Judicial Watch reported, “Another e-mail from former Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King, dated May 12, 2009, was distributed to Attorney General Eric Holder through Odgen and Perrelli. Entitled, ‘Weekly Report for the Week ending May 8, 2009,’ the e-mail ‘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.’”
The index obtained describes 122 documents, which include at least 611 pages, that currently are being withheld by the Obama administration from the public.
“We now know that top political leaders inside Obama Justice Department were involved in the call to drop the Black Panther case,” said Fitton. “And we also know that at least one top Justice official said otherwise under oath.
“In the meantime, we will ask the court to require the Obama Justice Department to release these (and other) secret documents about this scandal and its cover-up.”
Judicial Watch is a Washington-based organization that promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.
According to a commentary by Mark Tapscott at the Washington Examiner, J. Christian Adams, who was a DOJ attorney but resigned to protest the New Black Panther Party decision, said Hirsch “is a former Democratic Party operative, and one of the most partisan election law attorneys in the entire nation.”
Adams told the Examiner Hirsch worked for the Democrats in redistricting fights and was “heavily involved in the Obama campaign.”
Jill Farrell, a spokeswoman for Judicial Watch, told WND the case is being handled by Judge Reggie Walton in the District of Columbia, and a hearing will be held in three weeks.
As WND reported at the time, one poll watcher called police on Nov. 4, 2008, after he reportedly saw Minister King Samir Shabazz (aka Maurice Heath) brandishing a nightstick to threaten voters just 15 feet outside a Philadelphia polling location.
Career Department of Justice attorneys headed by voting-section chief Chris Coates filed a case under Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 against four defendants, accused the men of attempting to engage in, and engaging in, both voter intimidation and intimidation of individuals aiding voters.
The original Department of Justice complaint named Shabazz, the party and several others.
A federal judge ordered default judgments against the New Black Panthers after party members refused to appear in court. The DOJ trial team had won its case.
Even though DOJ lawyers had won, the Obama administration suddenly ordered it dropped – against advice of prosecutors who brought the case.
In April, the New Black Panther Party released a statement blaming Republicans “tea-party racists” and “right-wing circles” for complaining and harassing the organization.
“Our only connection to President Obama is the common color of our skin,” it states. “The same dog that bites President Obama bites us too. So I say, if you were wise, you would leave Obama alone as well because he is your last chance to save your country. You are mad because a black man has been elected to the presidency, and that affronts your oversized ego.”