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Obama Calls for DOJ Official's Firing

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) today called on the Justice Department to fire a top official over controversial comments the official made about minorities.

John K. Tanner, chief of the voting rights section in the Justice Department's civil rights division, recently told a Latino group in Los Angeles that "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

Tanner's comments came during a discussion of voter-identification laws, which minority rights groups have objected to as an obstruction to their voting rights. [The video portion of Tanner's statement was first reported on and posted in Brad Blog. Appearing before the National Latino Congreso, Tanner said elderly people are the most likely voters to not have driver's licenses and other forms of photo identification. This led to his assertion that minority deaths come earlier in life and, therefore, they would not be impacted by voter-ID laws.

"Anything that disproportionately impacts the elderly has the opposite impact on minorities -- just the math is such that," Tanner told the group.

Obama today wrote to acting Attorney General Peter D. Keisler saying Tanner "possesses neither the character nor the judgment" to hold his job.

For more details about the Tanner controversy, as well as the full-throated defense from the Justice Department, visit's Capitol Briefing blog.

--Paul Kane

By Washington Post Editor  |  October 19, 2007; 2:45 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama  
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