To get at the truth behind the U.S. Attorney purges, we should listen to former federal prosecutor David Iglesias (see this week's "Talking Points" in the news section): Start at the bottom of the food chain, then work your way up.
At the top of this particular food chain we’ll encounter the predators of the Potomac, sharks like Karl Rove patrolling Washington’s fetid waters with sucker fish hooked to his hide. Further down the chain come the small fry, Rio Grande minnows like Albuquerque lawyer Patrick J. Rogers. He appears to have been the New Mexico link in a GOP operation to have federal prosecutors influence elections and make it harder to vote in this country.
Rogers has represented the state GOP in seeking to impose voter photo ID to address unproven allegations of widespread voter fraud. Rogers made many of those allegations himself. Simultaneously, he was pressuring Iglesias to prosecute the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which has registered thousands of new voters. Iglesias, though, refused to file what he considered “bogus” charges.
Rogers then went after Iglesias by working through Sen. Pete Domenici and his connections in the Bush administration, including meetings with the Attorney General’s senior counsel, Monica Goodling. She will soon be forced to testify to Congress under a court-ordered grant of immunity.
Last year Rogers represented a noble-sounding group called the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR), which sought to intervene in a challenge to Albuquerque’s voter ID law. A federal court ruled the law unconstitutional. Rogers’ client wanted the law enforced.
As I wrote in “Voter Fraud Fraud” (The Real Side, April 12-18), I represented plaintiffs in that case. We prevented ACVR from intervening. I never thought about them again until I saw Rogers boasting about forcing Iglesias out as New Mexico’s top federal law enforcement official. So I took a closer look.
In June 2006, Rogers testified before the House Administration Committee as a director of ACVR’s Legislative Fund in support of nationwide voter photo ID. He also began his meetings with Monica Goodling on this trip.
This wasn’t the first time ACVR had testified before the House Administration Committee. On March 21, 2005, ACVR testified on alleged irregularities in the 2004 Presidential Election. ACVR was the sole witness invited to testify, though it had only been in existence a scant few weeks. The committee chairman who issued the exclusive invitation was GOP Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, now in federal prison for his own irregularities.
ACVR did not materialize out of the ether. It came straight out of Karl Rove’s Blackberry. The organization was formed by the national election counsel for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign and the RNC’s communications director. ACVR’s website donation page was registered to the same consultant who has raised funds for Bush and produced the RNC and Swiftboat Veterans websites.
Rogers co-founded ACVR’s Legislative Fund with Brian Lunde, the head of Democrats for Bush 2000 and a lobbyist who feeds off Rove’s scraps. The ACVR Legislative Fund lists its registered office in Virginia, though its books are kept by a woman in Tennessee. She also keeps the books for an organization controlled by former GOP Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist that funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to GOP functionaries. Most of ACVR’s money has been shuttled from unidentified donors to Republican lawyers and lobbyists, including the brother of Ken Mehlman, Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2005 to 2007.
What Rogers wanted for New Mexico, ACVR and Rove got for Missouri. The U.S. Attorney in Missouri received the same treatment as Iglesias. He was replaced by Bradley Shlozman, a political appointee who had been promoting voter ID out of the DOJ in Washington. Shlozman had no prior experience whatsoever in criminal prosecutions.
Shlozman promptly filed criminal charges against minimum-wage ACORN workers in October 2006, violating a DOJ rule prohibiting filings so close to elections. Shlozman acted in such haste he named the wrong person in one of his indictments. He callously let that defendant suffer under false felony charges until he corrected his error—weeks after the election. Not much later, Shlozman returned to his political post in D.C.
Last fall, Rove met with Republicans and ACVR lawyers in New Mexico and other battleground states. Soon U.S. Attorneys who weren’t playing ball found their careers ended. The full story will eventually surface as Congress works its way through its witness list, which now includes Rogers and the rest of the ACVR operation.
Ironically, about the time Iglesias was testifying before Congress, ACVR failed to renew its domain name registration. An activist lawyer snapped it up. ACORN, Republicans’ favorite target because it has been so prolific in registering new voters, now owns the website for Rove’s anti-democracy front group. The old ACVR, site now redirects to a website maintained by NYU Law Schools' Brennan Center for Law and Justice that debunks ACVR's claims of voter fraud.
ACVR seems to have disappeared altogether as Congress begins to close in. Investigators puzzled why they can't find records explaining how some of the very best career prosecutors in the United States government ended up on the street could try looking into ACVR's e-mail accounts, particularly anything to or from Karl Rove's hyperactive Blackberry. Rogers' computer might be a good place to start.
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