The right-wing media have made discredited claims about a case of alleged voter intimidation involving two members of the New Black Panther Party at a Philadelphia polling location on election day, 2008, in order to attack the Obama Justice Department as racially biased. In reality, the Obama DOJ obtained an injunction against one individual who was carrying a night stick at the polling location. Charges against the second member at the polling location, the president of the party, and the party itself were dropped due to lack of evidence.
Now, right-wing blogs are pointing to a video that they claim, falsely, contains footage of the NBPP president admitting to a coordinated plan to intimidate voters. The video appears on Breitbart.tv, headlined "President of New Black Panther Party Admits to Plan to Intimidate Voters," with rollover data reading, "Malik Shabazz incriminates himself in black panther case." The headline of the post on Big Government states, "New Black Panther Party President Admits to Philadelphia Voter Intimidation." The post on Freedom's Lighthouse reads, "In newly uncovered video Malik Shabazz incriminates the Black Panthers by admitting they went to polling stations to intimidate voters." At Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft wrote: "In a newly discovered home video, Malik Zulu Shabazz states to a crowd of Panther members that the activities that occurred in Philadelphia in Nov '08 were indeed done to intimidate voters."
These assertions are simply false. In reality, nowhere in the video does Shabazz describe a plan to orchestrate voter intimidation. Instead, he says that the NBPP planned to respond to perceived efforts to prevent "black people from coming to vote." From the video as seen on Breitbart.tv:
SHABAZZ: We decided that on election day, that we would go out to the polls. Because of what? Because they said they was going to be stopping black people from coming to vote. We knew that they didn't want a black man in office and there were strong intelligence indicators that there was going to be some trouble at the polls and we wanted to make sure the police were not harassing our people, so we wanted to go out and do what we could. [Abrupt video edit] It's just that sometimes the New Black Panther Party, sometimes, whatever we do we just tend to do it kinda strong. You know what I mean? [laughs] Sometimes whatever we do, we just do it, real strong. And sometimes it can even be too black and too strong.
Media figures have emphasized the fact that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is technically "bipartisan" to hype its investigation of the Justice Department's actions in the New Black Panther Party case. In reality, the commission's chair has acknowledged that conservatives "gam[ed] the system" and packed the panel with conservative activists, and the commission's two Democrats, as well as one Republican, have criticized the investigation.
From the July 9 edition of Fox News' America Live:
Loading the player reg...
John Fund continues to promote an outdated lawsuit connected to the Bush-era politicization of the Justice Department to smear the Obama Justice Department as hostile to enforcing voting laws, which he called "outrageous" and "suspiciously like the Black Panther case." But the Justice Department moved to dismiss the case due to outdated evidence.
From the July 9 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
The trumped-up allegations that the Obama Justice Department engaged in racially charged "corruption" in its handling of the New Black Panther Party case jumped from Fox News to CNN this morning. Anchor Kyra Phillips hosted Republican activist J. Christian Adams, whom she referred to as a "whistleblower," to repeat his unsubstantiated accusations, which are based on hearsay and charges made by other people.
One of the on-screen graphics described Adams' allegations as "Voter intimidation scandal at Justice Dept.":
During the segment, Phillips discussed the Commission on Civil Rights' investigation into the case with Ashley L. Taylor Jr., a Republican member of the commission. Phillips said that the investigation has "divided" the commission and that two commissioners were Democrats. She then read a portion of a statement from Michael Yaki, a Democratic member of commission, that criticized the commission's months-long investigation as "incredibly shallow," "partisan," and "a one-sided farce."
But Yaki isn't the only member of the commission to criticize its investigation -- Abigail Thernstrom, the Republican vice chair of the panel, has done the same.
As viewers watch Fox News dishonestly hype GOP activist J. Christian Adams' unsubstantiated accusation that the Justice Department under president Obama engaged in racially charged corruption, they should know that Adams reportedly was hired by Bradley Schlozman, a Bush-era political appointee who was found to have inappropriately considered political affiliation when hiring career attorneys.
A post today on the legal news website Main Justice reported that Joseph Rich, the former chief of the Civil Rights Division's Voting Section, confirmed that Adams was hired by "Bradley Schlozman, who was then a deputy assistant attorney general and later became acting assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division." Rich reportedly called Adams "exhibit A of the type of people hired by Bradley Schlozman."
A July 2008 report from the Department of Justice Inspector General's Office and the Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that Schlozman "considered political and ideological affiliations when hiring and taking other personnel actions relating to career attorneys in violation of Department policy and federal law." The report also concluded:
The evidence in our investigation showed that Schlozman, first as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General and subsequently as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General, considered political and ideological affiliations in hiring career attorneys and in other personnel actions affecting career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division. In doing so, he violated federal law -- the Civil Service Reform Act -- and Department policy that prohibit discrimination in federal employment based on political and ideological affiliations, and committed misconduct. The evidence also showed that Division managers failed to exercise sufficient oversight to ensure that Schlozman did not engage in inappropriate hiring and personnel practices. Moreover, Schlozman made false statements about whether he considered political and ideological affiliations when he gave sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and in his written responses to supplemental questions from the Committee.
Steve Doocy falsely claimed that the Justice Department "still has not explained why they dropped the case" against members of the New Black Panther Party. However, Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez testified that a "default judgment was sought and obtained" against a defendant carrying a nightstick and that DOJ attorneys concluded that "the evidence did not support" additional charges.
From the July 5 edition of Fox News' America Live:
Loading the player reg...
Right-wing media are hyping the dubious allegations of former Justice Department lawyer J. Christian Adams, a GOP activist reportedly hired to the DOJ by Bush political appointee Bradley Schlozman, who was found to have inappropriately considered political affiliation and ideology when hiring career attorneys.
Megyn Kelly and GOP activist J. Christian Adams deceptively cited Justice Department official Thomas Perez's testimony to accuse the DOJ of racially motivated corruption in its handling of a voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party. In testimony Kelly avoided mentioning, Perez made clear that the DOJ did, in fact, obtain a judgment against one defendant and also explained that the Bush-era DOJ chose not to pursue a similar case.
GOP activist and former Department of Justice lawyer J. Christian Adams has recently leveled unsubstantiated allegations that the Obama Department of Justice improperly decided not to pursue additional charges of voter intimidation against the New Black Panther Party for an incident that occurred outside a Philadelphia polling place in 2008.
A December 23, 2009, Main Justice article titled "The New Black Panther Case: A Legacy of Politicized Hiring" sheds further light on the political climate surrounding the DOJ at the time Adams was there.
The Main Justice article reported on Adams' ties to Bradley Scholzman:
Adams is a career Voting Section lawyer. He is also a foot soldier in the conservative movement, hired into the Justice Department during the Bush administration under a process the department's Inspector General concluded was improperly politicized.
Adams's background helps explain how a relatively minor incident in Philadelphia during the 2008 presidential election involving two members of an anti-white fringe group blossomed into a political controversy for the Obama administration.
Hired in 2005 by Bradley Schlozman, a Bush-era political appointee who drove out veteran Civil Rights Division attorneys perceived to be liberal, Adams appears to be one of the "right-thinking Americans" with conservative affiliations that Schlozman improperly seeded throughout the bureaucracy.
Main Justice further reported Bush-era DOJ official Hans von Spakovsky's full-throated defense of Adams and his attacks against "political hacks" in the Justice Department:
Spakovsky worked closely with Schlozman. He helped oversee the Noxubee case in Mississippi and assisted in the controversial purge of veteran lawyers in the division perceived to be liberal. The Democratic-controlled Senate in 2007 refused to confirm Spakovsky as a Federal Election Commission member.
Spakovsky has also worked at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for commissioner Todd Gaziano, an official at the conservative Heritage Foundation who's been the driving force behind the push to investigate the Black Panthers matter.
Von Spakovsky told Main Justice said he hadn't spoken with Adams about the case. "I know Christian just like I know all the lawyers, but I have not talked to him about the case," he said.
From the July 1 edition of Fox News' America Live:
Loading the player reg...
Fox News identified GOP activist J. Christian Adams as a "DOJ atty" and "whistle-blower" while allowing him to advance his unsubstantiated allegations against the Obama administration. As Media Matters has noted, Adams is a long-time conservative activisit who was reportedly hired by a Bush appointee who politiced the Justice Department. Adams also reportedly volunteered with a Republican group -- the National Republican Lawyers Association -- that "trains lawyers to fight on the front lines of often racially tinged battles over voting rights." In 2003, Adams likened Obama to appeasers who caused "carnage" of WWII.
From the July 1 edition of Fox News' America Live:
In a July 1 Pajamas Media post, Roger L. Simon published a statement from J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Deparment lawyer who has made unsubstantiated allegations that the DOJ improperly dismissed voter-intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for political reasons:
Adams told Pajamas Media:
I was appalled and disappointed by the DOJ yesterday. They included a blatant lie in their response to my interview. They told Fox News I had been "unhappy with my position." Not only would this be a personnel matter they aren't supposed to discuss, it's a fairy tale. In fact on April 28 I got a promotion, so maybe they can let me know what position I was unhappy with.
The problem with smearing me is that there are many others who know the truth inside the Department. Documents which they refuse to turn over pursuant to subpoenas from the Civil Rights Commission prove it. Testimony from other DOJ employees, which they refuse to allow, would also prove it.
Simon went on to write:
Indeed, there may be "others who know the truth," and it will be interesting to see what emerges. If there is racial discrimination in the Department of Justice, that is something we should all know about, so that it can be corrected as quickly as possible.
Pajamas Media and PJTV will be posting more information about this in the days to come. Watch this space and PJTV for more, including awards and promotions given Adams -- the man whose reputation the Department is now attempting to tarnish -- by the very DOJ only months ago.
If this were another administration -- no doubt if this were the Bush administration -- a veritable army of reporters would be assigned to this story with visions of Pulitzers dancing in their heads.
But given our current media environment, this is the kind of potential scandal that could easily be swept under the rug.
Pajamas Media will continue to work with Chris Adams to get his story out. He will have more details for us next Tuesday, after his scheduled testimony before the United States Commission on Civil Rights.
In fact, as Media Matters has noted, Adams is a longtime Republican activist, and Simon's suggestion of a double standard is contradicted by the fact that the during the Bush administration, the DOJ declined pursue to similar voter-intimidation charges in a case involving the Minutemen.