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Posted at 7:35 PM ET, 01/27/2011

New Black Panther Party case: The facts are in

By Jennifer Rubin

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights came out in December with a draft of its interim report on the New Black Panthers Party scandal. Earlier today a final report was posted on the commission's website, and with it, a flurry of rebuttals and separate statements from a number of the commissioners. The import of these statements should not be minimized.

The statements indicate several points: 1) the New Black Panther Party case brought by career Justice Department employees was meritorious on the law and the facts; 2) there is voluminous evidence of the Obama administration's political interference in the prosecution of the New Black Panther Party case; 3) there is ample evidence that the Obama administration directed Justice Department employees not to bring cases against minority defendants who violated voting rights laws or to enforce a provision requiring that states and localities clean up their voting rolls to prevent fraud; 4) the Justice Department stonewalled efforts to investigate the case; and 5) vice chairman Abigail Thernstrom has, for reasons not entirely clear, ignored the evidence and tried to undermine the commission's work.

The documents are lengthy and can be accessed on the commission's Web site. I will highlight a few of the most salient passages.

Todd Gaziano, a political independent, provides an overview:

After a year of DOJ's intransigence and baseless refusals to comply with our subpoenas, two Department attorneys bravely defied orders to testify before the Commission: the former Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief, Christopher Coates, and a lead trial attorney in the NBPP case, J. Christian Adams. Their testimony and the sworn affidavits from former DOJ staff portray a pervasive culture of hostility to race-neutral enforcement of civil rights laws in the Civil Rights Division. The detailed allegations include: a former section chief who doctored a memo to try to prevent a meritorious case from being filed against black defendants, racially offensive statements by several supervisors and staff, and repeated instances of harassment and intimidation directed against anyone willing to work on lawsuits against minority defendants.

On the merits of the case:

Although hampered by the Department's refusal to allow the Commission to interview DOJ trial attorneys or produce the exhibits, witness statements, and other evidence in the possession of DOJ, the Commission held its first hearing on April 23, 2010 relating to the facts on Election Day 2008 in Philadelphia and whether there was a sufficient basis to file the original charges. Three eye-witnesses, including the prominent civil rights attorney Bartle Bull, provided powerful and convincing testimony that the former defendants had engaged in intimidating conduct, and that voters had turned away from the polling place rather than walk within a billyclub swing of the entrance. Congressman Frank Wolf testified regarding his concerns about the case and his frustration with the lack of DOJ cooperation.

On pages 11-16 Gaziano details DOJ's stonewalling efforts, including the assertion of bogus claims of privilege. He does so, he explains,"(1) so that congressional
or other investigators may consider its implications going forward, and (2) to explain what
conclusions the Commission began to draw from the many months of stonewalling and frivolous claims of privilege. As severe winter storms in Washington gave way to spring, the continued, frustrating correspondence with the Department began to reinforce the conclusion that something much stronger than ordinary bureaucratic resistance was at play."

Commissioner Gail Heriot, another independent appointee, echoes many of these same findings. She also provides ample evidence of hostility to a case against an African-American defendant in the Noxubee, Mississippi case. (pp.2-9).

As Gaziano and Heriot do, commissioner Peter Kirsanow (a Republican appointee) goes through the evidence of malfeasance by an Obama political appointee, Julie Fernandes:

Mr. [Chris] Coates [who headed the NBPP trial team] came forward and testified to the same statements having been made by Ms. Fernandes--statements made pursuant to a directive she conveyed to members of the Voting Section that the race of violators and victims is an appropriate consideration in the Division's enforcement decisions.

The uncontroverted testimony of Messrs. Coates and [former DOJ attorney J. Christian] Adams also identify Ms. Fernandes as having explicitly told a brown-bag lunch gathering of the entire Voting Section that the administration would not enforce the list maintenance provisions of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act ("NVRA").

He also explains, "The Department declined to allow Ms. Fernandes to answer questions about these allegations herself when it ultimately refused to honor the Commission's subpoena for her appearance. For her part, when asked directly by reporters, Ms. Fernandes declined to comment."

Woven throughout these documents is a blistering rebuttal of the statements of Democratic commissioners who have done their best to ignore or misconstrue evidence, come up with belated and fanciful theories that not even the DOJ raised, and to vilify the career attorneys who came forward to provide sworn testimony.

Finally, in a joint statement, these three commissioners explain the curious behavior of Abigail Thernstrom who endorsed the commission's investigation and then set out to ignore the evidence and undermine the commission's work. This statement should be read in full, and is a sad coda on Thernstrom's impressive career. A sample:

The Vice Chair strongly supported this investigation until the day she changed her mind and stormed out of a Commission meeting over what she evidently perceived as a personal slight, and the personal slight didn't even have anything to do with the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) investigation. After that she opposed the Commission's majority on almost every subject and called the NBPP matter we were investigating "very small potatoes" which did not merit the time the Commission was devoting to it. Her attendance at meetings dwindled as she participated in less than 45% of the official meetings and events of the Commission in 2010. On those occasions she did attend, she strongly criticized the NBPP investigation. . . .

We are baffled by the Vice Chair's repeated assertions that the investigation has uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing. The sworn testimony of Adams and Coates and the affidavits of Bowers and von Spakovsky are exactly that. The only interpretation of the Vice Chair's statements that we have been able to come up with is that she is looking for specific testimony in connection with the New Black Panther Party case itself. If so, Coates testified unequivocally that the case was dismissed because his superiors harbored hostility to the race neutral application of the law, but perhaps she wants written proof from one of the decision makers. Yet, that is exactly the kind of evidence the Department has denied the Commission access to. . . .

All of this has been explained to the Vice Chair on more than one occasion. But while she currently professes interest in obtaining evidence, her statements are belied by her past conduct, when she has either refused to help or attempted to prevent the Commission's efforts to obtain it.

And now the commission passes its findings on to Congress, specifically the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) I suspect he will pick up where the commission left off and demand the stonewalling come to an end.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 27, 2011; 7:35 PM ET
Categories:  law  
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Hello? Mary Frances Berry? Rev. Al? WaPo Editorial Board? NYT Editorial Board? CBS/NBC/ABC? Bill Moyers? Anybody? [Crickets]

Posted by: RAS743 | January 27, 2011 8:01 PM | Report abuse

The only "conversation on race" this administration wants is one pre scripted by them of course. Is this the only way they can maintain a continued sense of grievance and entitlement to justify policies we no longer want or need? Instead of this historic Presidency encouraging us to savor and celebrate what should be seen as the end of any meaningful and damaging institutional racism in the USA, we see, instead, a kind of enduring bitterness and well nurtured spite and anger walling one part of America from the other.

Posted by: ZoltanNewberry | January 27, 2011 8:08 PM | Report abuse

The only "conversation on race" this administration wants is one pre scripted by them of course. Is this the only way they can maintain a continued sense of grievance and entitlement to justify policies we no longer want or need? Instead of this historic Presidency encouraging us to savor and celebrate what should be seen as the end of any meaningful and damaging institutional racism in the USA, we see, instead, a kind of enduring bitterness and well nurtured spite and anger walling one part of America from the other.

Posted by: ZoltanNewberry | January 27, 2011 8:10 PM | Report abuse

So let me make sure the crux of this column is clear:
A Republican dominated Commission has produced what appears to be a highly partisan report alleging wrongdoing by a Democratic administration. According to Jennifer, those who disagree with the findings are either maligned in the report as misinformed fabricators or partisans, and her advice is that Republicans should use this report to hold hearings to further investigate the administration.

I can't wait for Jennifer's next column wherein she advises Rep. Smith to start shooting at pumpkins to prove to prove the Clintons really did kill Vince Foster.

Posted by: mustangs79 | January 27, 2011 8:33 PM | Report abuse

MUSTANG79, you must have a great job where you don't have to quit to tell the truth. Adams and Coates BOTH had to resign to be allowed to testify before the Civil Rights commission. Does that sound like two right wing nuts to you? Did I see you going after the Democrat zealots who went after GWB for LEGALLY firing 93 federal attorneys? Guess what happened? There was no crime and there was no charges of ANY kind found by the committee against the GWB administration.

Posted by: inspectorudy | January 28, 2011 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Hey Mustang79, the truth stings like a bee, doesn't it? This is the legacy that you and your racist president and his racist appointees will inherit in history. What did you expect, people to react positively to racism in America in 2011? Pull your head out the bong, son. All the racists are on your side, smokey.

Posted by: johnnyramone | January 28, 2011 2:38 AM | Report abuse

Any sentient human being who has had the misfortune to see TV clip two club wielding African American extremists standing outside a polling place and cannot see the awful event for what it is, voter intimidation of the most blatant kind, is probably so blinded by his own hatefilled prejudices that he cannot see anything.
And any African American who either denies the reality of this incident of voter intimidation, or worse, defends it, is behaving in the most anti American, and indeed, the most KKK racist manner conceivable.

Posted by: Beniyyar | January 28, 2011 5:41 AM | Report abuse

Two black guys in paramilitary garb, one armed with a nightstick, stand in front of a polling place where voters have to walk by them in order to vote; one states: 'Prepare to be ruled by the black man, cracker'.

Now tell me that you honestly believe that isn't voter intimidation and that if it had been two white guys in paramilitary garb, one armed with a nightstick, standing in front of a polling place where voters have to walk by them in order to vote with one stating: 'Prepare to be ruled by the white man, n****r' that the Obama DofJ wouldn't have been in full battle mode.

Voter intimidation is voter intimidation whether done by whites or minorities and should be treated equally. Holder should be fired and Obama's DofJ held accountable.

Posted by: dflinchum | January 28, 2011 5:48 AM | Report abuse

It is pretty clear to even a casual reader that Mustangs79 is not clear on the "crux of this column". The crux of the column is the investigation clearly showed violations of civil rights law, political interference in the working of the Justice Department, and radical stonewalling of the investigation by the commission. The column also noted the "Vice Chair" showed no real interest in the investigation for reasons of her own.

Mustans79 has to be willfully perverse (like the Vice Chair) to miss the crux of this column. But, Mustangs79 was ultimately successful in missing the very "crux of the column". Of course, that is noting to be proud of.

Posted by: RickCaird | January 28, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

There are lots of examples of such intimidation if you look hard. In 1996, my mother was turned away from the polling place in the lobby of the building where she had lived for 30 years. The Congressional district was that of Jesse Jackson Jr and the city was Chicago. Her registration was challenged by a Democrat poll judge. It could not possibly have mattered in the election as she was one of three white people still living in that 33 story building. Still, they can't help themselves when they get a chance to stick it to a white person, even if she is 98 years old.

Posted by: mtkennedy | January 28, 2011 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I'm quite worried about Thernstrom. Can someone help me understand what has happened to her? What has driven her off the rails, so to speak?

Posted by: pabarge | January 28, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer you moron. Learn to read. The report says nothing of the sort.

Posted by: kindness1 | January 28, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Think about all those layers upon layers of Fact Checkers at the Malfeasant Media, and how wrong they got it.

What bias?

Posted by: stevem1 | January 28, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Maybe time for the Attorney-General to resign ? or alternatively for a Special prosecutor to investigate the Justice Dept ?

Posted by: pvilso24 | January 28, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"Todd Gaziano, a political independent"

Does long time conservative operative mean political independent in Jennifer Rubin's world?

Todd Gaziano
Director, Center for Legal & Judicial Studies of the Heritage Foundation

His Bio fro the Heritage Foundation

"Todd Gaziano focuses on legal and judicial reform and such constitutional issues as ensuring that all citizens are accorded equal treatment under the law. Before joining former Attorney General Edwin Meese at The Heritage Foundation in 1997, Mr. Gaziano served under noted conservative leaders in all three branches of the federal government"

"Commissioner Gail Heriot, another independent appointee,"

That would be the same Gail Heriot who was one of 4 writers for the Right Coast blog, which is a conservative opinion site. She appears to be very much against the idea of anti discrimination laws which makes her place on the commission an odd one.

Yeah totally independent!

Posted by: thetruth2011 | January 28, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow this must have been a huge case. How many voter claimed intimidation? None you say?!?

That can't be true after all the coverage given this by the right wing media, someone must have had their rights infringed?

Unless the right wing was doing the be scared of black people routine.

But what I was really curious about was why J Christian Adams had a republican operative named Mike Roman collecting evidence for him?

From the report

"Under the statute, a black poll watcher for you being abused or insulted is critical, and thus far, I don't have one," Adams wrote in an e-mail, apparently to Republican political consultant Mike Roman."

That info might help your readers figure this story out...ya know if you weren't a lying partisan hack

Posted by: thetruth2011 | January 28, 2011 3:29 PM | Report abuse

" states: 'Prepare to be ruled by the black man, cracker'."

Whoa! That's the first time I've heard this so I went back to view the vid and no such utterance occurred. Having followed this case closely this is, again, the first I've heard this claim. I have to think that it's something said on a wingnut blog somewhere and now it's become "teh troof."

Also, too. My condar pings big time whenever hacks such as Rubin claim their sources are "independents." She mentions Todd Gaziano so I get Googly™ with it and first result? "Todd Gaziano | The Heritage Foundation." Moving on to the next "independent," Gail Heriot. Teh Google™ reveals her to be a front page poster at a blawg called "The Right Coast" and to no one's surprise, it's
hard right. FSM bless 'em, but there's no way one could call it (especially Heriot) independent.

So what we have here is a couple of people who are clearly conservatives being described as "independents" by Rubin in order to keep this specious story alive. Obviously Rubin doesn't understand the meaning of the word "independent."

Posted by: notjenna1 | January 28, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

@thetruth2011 - 3:23 PM

Beat me to the low hanging fruit. Kudos! Can I buy you a beer?

Posted by: notjenna1 | January 28, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

"@thetruth2011 - 3:23 PM

Beat me to the low hanging fruit. Kudos! Can I buy you a beer?"

chuckle...mighty kind of you.

But I must say Jennifer Rubin's categorizing people as independent isn't even the most hacktackular part of this column.

Its her excerpting the other commissioners furious with Abigail Thermstrom.

Rubin probably did that because by exposing this case as a political witch hunt more interested in damaging the President than with civil rights, Thernstrom has also exposed Rubin as the right wing hack she is.

Next week Rubin is gonna write a column about how the President has hurt race relations in this country by sparking outrage in her and her brethren for Presidenting While Black.

Posted by: thetruth2011 | January 28, 2011 3:59 PM | Report abuse

So an allegedly Republican led commission has found that Republican President Bush's DOJ should not have downgraded the NBPP Voter Intimidation case to a civil case from a criminal one.

Let's all remember that the case was downgraded by the DOJ when Bush was still in office 11 days BEFORE Obama took office.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | January 28, 2011 4:55 PM | Report abuse

@notjenna1 If indeed you have actually followed this case and you actually wanted to know what happened then you'd know that the comment "you are about to be ruled by the black-man, cracker" is straight from the sworn declaration by Bartle Bull who witnessed the event as a poll judge. Get googly on that. Hint: the document is posted on-line and it appears you can read.

Posted by: Anonymoose1 | January 28, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

"you are about to be ruled by the black-man, cracker" is straight from the sworn declaration by Bartle Bull who witnessed the event as a poll judge."

Why was the NY leader of Democrats for McCain in Philly as a poll watcher?

Posted by: thetruth2011 | January 28, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

@ProfessorWrightBSU. Surely, know the issue is the dropping of the civil case by the DOJ and that this happened under Holder. Are you a professor of propaganda?

Posted by: Anonymoose1 | January 28, 2011 5:45 PM | Report abuse

@theTruth2011 - Why don't you read his affidavit and see for yourself what he said. I'm not so good at reading his mind why he wanted to watch polls in Philly. Maybe he brought Malik Zulu Shabazz and Minister King Samir Shabazz with him and put them up to it. Is that what you're suggesting?

Or are you simply suggesting that a lifelong democrat, NY campaign manager for Robert Kennedy and Carter lied under oath..hey, maybe you're on to something.

Posted by: Anonymoose1 | January 28, 2011 5:59 PM | Report abuse

"Or are you simply suggesting that a lifelong democrat, NY campaign manager for Robert Kennedy and Carter lied under oath."

Poor fellow, you don't realize that he's identified that way much like Rubin calls right wing bloggers and Heritage foundation directors "independent".

Its to get you to swallow the lie.

And yes I think he is lying.

But beyond that don't you find it strange for the president of NY Democrats for McCain and the guy who runs a conservative veterans group in NJ decided to poll watch in an African American dominated voting district in Philly?

Posted by: thetruth2011 | January 28, 2011 6:57 PM | Report abuse

I knew this. I listened to two hours of the hearsings. The AG and his corrupt minions are culpable in NOT ENFORCING CIVIL RIGHTS LAW.

Time for the AG and persons involved to step down or be fired.

Posted by: crypticguise | January 28, 2011 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Jennifer.

To quote Power Line ("Politics Reigns At Obama's Justice Department "): "It is impossible to read the Commission's report without concluding that Barack Obama and Eric Holder are doing their best to turn the Department of Justice into an arm of the Democratic Party and the far Left. This is, to my knowledge, unprecedented in American history."

Posted by: gjtitus | January 29, 2011 2:56 AM | Report abuse

>The only "conversation on race" this
>administration wants is one pre scripted by
> them of course. Is this the only way they
>can maintain a continued sense of grievance
>and entitlement to justify policies we no
>longer want or need?

You mean the GOP of course.

Posted by: BurfordHolly | January 29, 2011 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Politicized DOJ?

Remember Monica "I'm too stupid to prosecute" Goodling who thought DOJ stood for Department of Jeeeezus?

Posted by: BurfordHolly | January 29, 2011 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Man, what a collection of lying racist hysterics - starting with Jennifer Rubin.

If these mouth-breathers actually read the report, they'd realize how idiotic they sound.

But then, if they'd believe McCain/Palin for president, they will believe absolutely anything that aligns with their repugnant political viewpoint.

Posted by: labradog | January 29, 2011 9:37 PM | Report abuse

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