That’s hardly the kind of endorsement a candidate for Congress expects. But that is the conclusion of voting rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. after digging into the evidence of Congressional candidate Tim Griffin’s role in directing the Republican National Committee’s racially biased attack on voters known as “caging.”
A brutal mano-a-mano race in Arkansas’ Second District has become a showdown between Sarah Palin’s banner carrier Griffin (funded by SarahPAC) and Democrat Joyce Elliott who has drawn homeboy Bill Clinton back to Little Rock.
The ex-President, in Arkansas this week, was especially worked up about Griffin’s caging list vote suppression scheme. (Our Good Ol’ Boy in Chief told me back in 2008 he would bust out the story, and it only took him two years to do the right thing, a personal best for Bill.) …more
NBC Arkansas television anchor and investigative reporter Melissa Simas confronted Griffin, a candidate for a Little Rock congressional seat, with the latest information Palast has uncovered on the “Tim Crow” caging scheme.
It’s not Tim Griffin’s day. In 2004, BBC Television exposed Karl Rove’s crony Tim Griffin, for running an operation to challenge the right to vote of active duty soldiers, especially those of color. …more
After two years, and several resignations among Department of Justice staffers, in July, a special prosecutor wrapped up her investigation of the nine U.S. Attorneys fired in 2006. Bud Cummins, a Republican from Arkansas, was one of the U.S. Attorneys fired. Tim Griffin, another Republican, and the current candidate for Congress in Arkansas was named as his replacement.
Though no criminal charges were filed, the report indicates, “the process used to remove the nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006 was fundamentally flawed.”
The report itself makes reference to Mr. Griffin’s alleged involvement with voter caging. Because of Mr. Griffin’s candidacy, we sat down with him to discuss the allegations. He told KARK he was not concerned about the Department of Justice report when he decided to run for Congress. …more
By Dahlia Lithwick | Slate Posted Thursday, May 31, 2007, at 6:24 PM ET
Last week, in her testimony before the House judiciary committee, Monica Goodling referred several times to “vote caging” possibly done by Arkansas’ soon to be ex-interim, never-confirmed U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin. Yet Goodling was questioned about this almost not at all, nor did the media do much more than report the words of the former liaison between the White House and Alberto Gonzales (why a “liaison” is required between two institutions with no boundaries between them is incomprehensible, but perhaps another story). Meanwhile, liberal talk radio, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and the blogosphere went nuts. So, which is it: Is vote caging the most under reported part of this U.S. attorneys scandal or the most over-hyped?
One of the reasons the mainstream news reports (including mine) barley touched the vote-caging story was that nobody had any idea what Goodling was talking about. “Vote caging, what’s that?” we e-mailed each other at Slate. The confusion seemed to extend to Goodling herself. The subject came up in her testimony about former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty. In saying he had not been forthright with the House judiciary committee in his testimony on the firing of the U.S. attorneys, she cited three areas, one of which was McNulty’s failure “to disclose that he had some knowledge of allegations that Tim Griffin had been involved in ‘vote caging’ in the president’s 2004 campaign,” when he spoke to Congress.
Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., asked Goodling to “explain what caging is,” clarifying that she was unfamiliar with the term. Goodling fumbled around, muttered something about, “it’s a direct-mail term, that people who do direct mail, when, when they separate addresses that may be good versus addresses that may be bad,” then made sure to end with, “I don’t I believe that Mr. Griffin doesn’t believe that he, that he did anything wrong there and there, there actually is a very good reason for it, for a very good explanation.” Which explanation Goodling did not then provide.
To recap, Goodling told the judiciary committee that: 1) Griffin was possibly involved in caging; 2) he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong (she is less certain, it seems); and 3) McNulty lied under oath when he downplayed his knowledge of these allegations to the committee.
That would suggest that vote caging is a big deal. Is it?
Vote caging is an illegal trick to suppress minority voters (who tend to vote Democrat) by getting them knocked off the voter rolls if they fail to answer registered mail sent to homes they aren’t living at (because they are, say, at college or at war). The Republican National Committee reportedly stopped the practice following a consent decree in a 1986 case. Google the term and you’ll quickly arrive at the Wizard of Oz of caging, Greg Palast, investigative reporter and author of the wickedly funny Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans””Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild. Palast started reporting allegations of Republican vote caging for the BBC’s Newsnight in 2004. He’s been almost alone on the story since then. Palast contends, both in Armed Madhouse and widely through the liberal blogosphere, that vote caging, an illegal voter-suppression scheme, happened in Florida in 2004 this way:
The Bush-Cheney operatives sent hundreds of thousands of letters marked “Do not forward” to voters’ homes. Letters returned (“caged”) were used as evidence to block these voters’ right to cast a ballot on grounds they were registered at phony addresses. Who were the evil fakers? Homeless men, students on vacation and””you got to love this””American soldiers. Oh yeah: most of them are Black voters.
Why weren’t these African-American voters home when the Republican letters arrived? The homeless men were on park benches, the students were on vacation””and the soldiers were overseas.
Palast supplies evidence linking Tim Griffin, then-research director for the RNC, to this caging plot; specifically, a series of confidential e-mails to Republican Party muckety-mucks with the suggestive heading “RE: caging.” The e-mails were accidentally sent to a George Bush parody site. They also contained suggestively named spreadsheets, headed “caging” as well. The names on the lists are what Palast’s researchers deemed to be homeless men and soldiers deployed in Iraq. Here are the e-mails.
As Palast points out – and Griffin himself has observed – the American media barely touched this story, and Griffin has yet to explain the e-mails or the lists. He did tell The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer last March that “caging is not a derogatory term. … [I]t’s a direct-mail term. It derives from caging categories of mail in steel shelves and files.” Still, that hardly explains why he was allegedly caging only transient African-American voters in those shelves or files, which would likely violate the Voting Rights Act.
Palast is surely not above overstatement. He is one of many who have repeated the claim that, “In an Aug. 24 e-mail, the Justice Department’s Monica Goodling wrote to Sampson, that Griffin’s nomination would face opposition in Congress because he was involved ‘in massive Republican projects in Florida and elsewhere by which Republicans challenged tens of thousand of absentee votes. Coincidentally, many of those challenged votes were in black precincts.’ ” Goodling wrote no such thing. That quote is from an article circulated by Goodling on Aug. 24. It’s an unfair smear of both Griffin and Goodling (both of whom have proven amply capable of smearing themselves).
Still, Palast’s vote-caging claims are hardly unbelievable. Republicans have been systematically trying to suppress minority votes for decades, most recently calling it pushback for rampant liberal voter fraud. Our own former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist was alleged to have mastered the art. And while bouncing voters from the rolls on the basis of their race violates federal law, it’s not beyond imagining that eager young “loyal Bushies” aren’t all that bothered by federal laws, especially if there’s a way to bend rather than overtly break them.
From the point of view of the ongoing DoJ scandal, perhaps what’s most urgent about the vote-caging claims is that they go a long, long way toward explaining why Karl Rove and Harriet Miers were so determined to get Griffin seated in the Arkansas U.S. Attorney’s office, and to do so without a confirmation hearing. If, as the Justice Department has continued to insist, Griffin was eminently qualified for the position, why did he need to be spared the hearing at all costs? And once it became clear that he would undergo a hearing, why did Griffin sideline himself with the colorful observation that undergoing Senate confirmation would be “like volunteering to stand in front of a firing squad in the middle of a three-ring circus?” Griffin – who is now in job talks with the Fred Thompson campaign – sure looks like a guy hiding something, and if vote caging is that something, it becomes even more interesting that the White House was pushing him forward.
Why did Goodling choose to shine a beacon on the vote-caging allegations in her perfectly rehearsed, highly coached testimony last week? Having slaved to secure Griffin’s U.S. attorney post, why raise the allegations against him and then subtly distance herself from him, if there is nothing to see here? Professor Rick Hasen of Loyola Law School, who wrote earlier this month about voter fraud, is my personal voting-law guru. (Everyone needs one.) When I asked him whether the mainstream media were making a mistake in blowing off the vote-caging story, he said Goodling’s mention of it “makes me suspect that there’s something there worth investigating by the MSM, even if you don’t buy into the grand conspiracy theories.”
If the media have fallen down on this story, how much more so has Congress? Nobody tried to press Goodling about what McNulty allegedly knew and withheld from Congress in regard to Griffin’s alleged vote-caging schemes. I’d be interested in the answer. I’d also like to hear what Griffin himself has to say about those lists the BBC has. If the RNC was paying good money to send registered mail to homeless black men in Florida, there must have been a reason for it. Griffin, after all, has left his Arkansas post and is looking for work. (Tim, if Sen. Thompson is a no-go, I need a babysitter next Saturday!) I bet he’d like nothing better than to clear his name and remove the taint of voter suppression from his resume.
I’d also like to hear from Karl and Harriet about why Griffin’s elevation to the Arkansas job was so important, yet his confirmation so fraught. If Palast is right, Griffin and vote caging open the door to explaining the White House involvement in the U.S. attorneys purge. And the White House – not the Justice Department – has always been the least-understood part of this story. So, let’s bake up some of those warm, crusty subpoenas. Last week was the first time most of us heard about vote caging. It shouldn’t be the last.
This Monica revealed something hotter — much hotter — than a stained blue dress. In her opening testimony yesterday before the House Judiciary Committee, Monica Goodling, the blonde-ling underling to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Department of Justice Liaison to the White House, dropped The Big One….And the Committee members didn’t even know it. Goodling testified that Gonzales’ Deputy AG, Paul McNulty, perjured himself, lying to the committee in earlier testimony. The lie: McNulty denied Monica had told him about Tim Griffin’s “involvement in ‘caging’ voters” in 2004. Huh?? Tim Griffin? “Caging”???
The perplexed committee members hadn’t a clue — and asked no substantive questions about it thereafter. Karl Rove is still smiling. If the members had gotten the clue, and asked the right questions, they would have found “the keys to the kingdom,” they thought they were looking for. They dangled right in front of their perplexed faces.
The keys: the missing emails — and missing link — that could send Griffin and his boss, Rove, to the slammer for a long, long time.
Kingdom enough for ya?
But what’s ‘caging’ and why is it such a dreadful secret that lawyer McNulty put his license to practice and his freedom on the line to cover Tim Griffin’s involvement in it? Because it’s a felony. And a big one.
Our BBC team broke the story at the top of the nightly news everywhere on the planet – except the USA – only because America’s news networks simply refused to cover this evidence of the electoral coup d’etat that chose our President in 2004.
Here’s how caging worked, and along with Griffin’s thoughtful emails themselves you’ll understand it all in no time.
The Bush-Cheney operatives sent hundreds of thousands of letters marked “Do not forward” to voters’ homes. Letters returned (“caged”) were used as evidence to block these voters’ right to cast a ballot on grounds they were registered at phony addresses. Who were the evil fakers? Homeless men, students on vacation and — you got to love this — American soldiers. Oh yeah: most of them are Black voters.
Why weren’t these African-American voters home when the Republican letters arrived? The homeless men were on park benches, the students were on vacation — and the soldiers were overseas. Go to Baghdad, lose your vote. Mission Accomplished.
How do I know? I have the caging lists…
I have them because they are attached to the emails Rove insists can’t be found. I have the emails. 500 of them — sent to our team at BBC after the Rove-bots accidentally sent them to a web domain owned by our friend John Wooden.
Here’s what you need to know — and the Committee would have discovered, if only they’d asked:
1. ‘Caging’ voters is a crime, a go-to-jail felony. 2. Griffin wasn’t “involved” in the caging, Ms. Goodling. Griffin, Rove’s right-hand man (right-hand claw), was directing the illegal purge and challenge campaign. How do I know? It’s in the email I got. Thanks. And it’s posted below. 3. On December 7, 2006, the ragin’, cagin’ Griffin was named, on Rove’s personal demand, US Attorney for Arkansas. Perpetrator became prosecutor.
The committee was perplexed about Monica’s panicked admission and accusations about the caging list because the US press never covered it. That’s because, as Griffin wrote to Goodling in yet another email (dated February 6 of this year, and also posted below), their caging operation only made the news on BBC London: busted open, Griffin bitched, by that “British reporter,” Greg Palast.
There’s no pride in this. Our BBC team broke the story at the top of the nightly news everywhere on the planet — except the USA — only because America’s news networks simply refused to cover this evidence of the electoral coup d’etat that chose our President in 2004.
And now, not bothering to understand the astonishing revelation in Goodling’s confessional, they are missing the real story behind the firing of the US attorneys. It’s not about removing prosecutors disloyal to Bush, it’s about replacing those who refused to aid the theft of the vote in 2004 with those prepared to burgle it again in 2008.
Now that they have the keys, let’s see if they can put them in the right door. The clock is ticking ladies and gents…
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse: from Baghdad to New Orleans – Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone WILD. For more info, or to hear Brad Friedman, Ed Asner and other troublemakers read from Armed Madhouse, go to www.GregPalast.com