Black Conservatives Call for "Housecleaning" at Justice Department
New Report Cites Toxic Atmosphere Within Civil Rights Division, Where Liberals Bully and Intimidate Staff with Opposing Views
Racial Language Used to Deride Employees Who Don't Fall in Line
Washington, D.C. - A new federal report describes a "disappointing lack of professionalism" and "deep ideological polarization" among the U.S. Department of Justice attorneys and staff who are charged with enforcing the nation's voting laws.
Legal experts with the Project 21 black leadership network condemn this apparent liberal campaign of intimidation toward those who believe in a race-neutral application of civil rights laws. "When the Justice Department had clear evidence of voter intimidation, Attorney General Eric Holder and his deputy, Thomas Perez, looked the other way. They said they were not involved, but the investigation shows that both were involved and pointedly chose not to fully prosecute cases that did not fall into their politically correct interpretation of the law," said Project 21 Co-Chairman Cherylyn Harley LeBon, a former senior counsel with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. "Unfortunately, it appears that Holder is spending too much time impeding the implementation of legitimate voter ID legislation in South Carolina and Texas instead of adequately combating blatant forms of harassment under his own roof!"
A report released by the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, which reviewed over 10,000 documents and included the participation of 135 witnesses, concluded that incidents of liberal bias and intimidation investigated over the course of the Bush and Obama presidencies were "troubling."
In particular, the investigation focused on Justice Department action against black-on-white discrimination cases such as the New Black Panther Party's alleged intimidation of voters at a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania polling place in 2008 and a 2006 case of alleged voter intimidation orchestrated by a political boss in Noxubee, Mississippi.
"During President Obama's first term, Eric Holder told America that our nation had a racial problem. It turns out that it's his Department that has the racial problem," said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper, a former congressional leadership staffer and constitutional law professor. "The very department that sits on the front line to enforce and protect the voting rights of all Americans is apparently handicapped by racial paralysis."
The Noxubee case focused on allegations of anti-white voter intimidation and undue influence by a local black Democratic Party official that Justice Department prosecutors at the time likened to tactics used against blacks during the segregation era. According to the inspector general's report, a black intern who volunteered to work on the case was derided by at least two staff attorneys as a "token" duped into working on the case so white prosecutors "could have a black face at the counsel table." The intern said the criticism affected his work and made his feel ostracized. Additionally, then-section chief Christopher Coates was called a "klansman" in e-mail exchanges among staff attorneys under his charge -- one of whom further called the case a "perversion" of the Voting Rights Act because white voters "are NOT covered for a reason."
In the case of the New Black Panther Party, a nearly-completed prosecution of four Party members for acts of intimidation on Election Day 2008 was settled and dropped shortly after the Obama Administration took over. While Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas Perez previously testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that only staff attorneys were actually involved in the case, documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show political appointees were involved in editing and advisory roles. The inspector general's report also found political appointees conspired to remove Coates from his supervisory role and excluded him from important meetings. Coates eventually requested a transfer to a field office and retired from government shortly thereafter.
Perez is expected to be nominated as Secretary of Labor by President Obama.
Horowitz noted in the report: "It is precisely because of the political sensitivity of the Voting Section's cases that it is essential that division leaders and... managers be particularly vigilant to ensure that enforcement decisions -- and the processes used to arrive at them -- are, and appear to be, based solely on the merits and free from improper partisan and racial considerations."
"The misdeeds chronicled in the inspector general's report once again make it clear that the Justice Department is rotten to the core. Racial epithets, side deals with outside attorneys and efforts to torpedo their own cases make clear that the department needs a thorough housecleaning," added Project 21's Cooper.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for nearly two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).