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March 24, 2007

McKay in Context

Fired federal prosecutor John McKay of Seattle is smack in the middle of one of the biggest stories that history will tell about this time.   Republicans, led by Karl Rove, have systematically focused on stealing elections in order to prop up their greed-propelled grasp on the reins of government. 

Rove does the numbers.  He knows which states are key to long-range Republican success.  Digby points us to a piece that the McClatchy news folks wrote about a speech that Rove gave to the Republican National Lawyers Association last spring: 

Last April, while the Justice Department and the White House were planning the firings, Rove gave a speech in Washington to the Republican National Lawyers Association. He ticked off 11 states that he said could be pivotal in the 2008 elections. Bush has appointed new U.S. attorneys in nine of them since 2005: Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico. U.S. attorneys in the latter four were among those fired.

Rove's focus on "voter fraud" is historic.   

Digby uncovers an Atlantic Monthly article about an election that Rove managed in Alabama in 1994, that of Republican Perry Hooper, running for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. 

In the race for chief justice, which had been neck and neck the evening before, Hooper awoke to discover himself trailing by 698 votes. Throughout the day ballots trickled in from remote corners of the state, until at last an unofficial tally showed that Rove's client had lost—by 304 votes. Hornsby's campaign declared victory.

Rove had other plans, and immediately moved for a recount. "Karl called the next morning," says a former Rove staffer. "He said, 'We came real close. You guys did a great job. But now we really need to rally around Perry Hooper. We've got a real good shot at this, but we need to win over the people of Alabama.'" Rove explained how this was to be done. "Our role was to try to keep people motivated about Perry Hooper's election," the staffer continued, "and then to undermine the other side's support by casting them as liars, cheaters, stealers, immoral—all of that." (Rove did not respond to requests for an interview for this article.

The campaign quickly obtained a restraining order to preserve the ballots. Then the tactical battle began. Rather than focus on a handful of Republican counties that might yield extra votes, Rove dispatched campaign staffers and hired investigators to every county to observe the counting and turn up evidence of fraud. In one county a probate judge was discovered to have erroneously excluded 100 votes for Hooper. Voting machines in two others had failed to count all the returns. Mindful of public opinion, according to staffers, the campaign spread tales of poll watchers threatened with arrest; probate judges locking themselves in their offices and refusing to admit campaign workers; votes being cast in absentia for comatose nursing-home patients; and Democrats caught in a cemetery writing down the names of the dead in order to put them on absentee ballots.

And on it went.  Perry Hooper "won" that election eleven months later with the help of a tremendously sophisticated PR campaign, many appeals to different courts, including the federal courts, and heaven knows how much outright fraud.

If these tactics sound wildly familiar, there is a reason.  Fast forward to 2004 and our Washington State gubernatorial election.  The same tactics were used, undoubtedly by folks that Rove had either trained or was talking to every day or both.  Except in Washington State, a Republican judge in Chelan country ran a fair trial and stated that the Republicans did not have a case.  Then John McKay, the well-respected Republican-appointed federal prosecutor, who had conducted a thorough investigation of voter fraud in that election, refused to convene a federal grand jury because, as he said,  "we never found any evidence of criminal conduct."

For his troubles, McKay was listed as insubordinate by the DoJ political handlers and placed on the list of federal prosecutors to be fired.  From the PI article on an interview McKay gave:

He spoke out because he believed Republican supporters of Dino Rossi, still bitter over his narrow loss to Democrat Christine Gregoire, continue to falsely portray him and his office as indifferent to allegations of electoral fraud.

And McKay also said that "when top Bush aides interviewed him for a federal judgeship, he was asked to respond to criticism of his inquiry in which no charges were brought. He didn't get the judgeship".

John McKay is scheduled to be on Meet the Press tomorrow morning, along with David Iglesias of New Mexico.  Odds are John McKay spent his adult life doing his jobs well and fairly, aiming to end his career with an appointment to a federal judgeship.  It would be a lovely time for McKay to tell us why he thinks he was fired from his position as federal prosecutor and denied appointment to a federal judgeship. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 24, 2007 at 11:18 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

Comments

Another fine one, Lynn -- thanks for pulling this together. Bet you had to resort to a mask, though, with that fetid Turdblossom stink all over these facts. With the goodies from this latest doc-dump in play, the Sunday shows should be more interesting than usual tomorrow. I may even have to break down and watch one or two.

Posted by: lotus | Mar 24, 2007 1:14:45 PM

Election fraud seems to have been a factor in the firing of at least McKay and Iglesias.

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/013227.php

In light of the list of states Rove spoke of, and Bush's mention of election fraud concerns in his speech, it's pretty clear that this was one motivation for the purge.

Good job putting these facts together, Lynn.

Posted by: Cujo359 | Mar 24, 2007 1:50:24 PM

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