On January 27, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission released a report on the Department of Justice's investigation into the New Black Panther Party case. USCCR's report largely adopts the right-wing media's bogus allegations that President Obama's Justice Department engaged in racially charged corruption in the case. This is unsurprising; the USCCR is dominated by conservative activists, and the witnesses they rely upon are J. Christian Adams, a longtime GOP activist deeply tied to the Bush-era politicization of the DOJ, and Christopher Coates, who reportedly became "a true member of the team" during that administration.
USCCR Pushes Claims By Coates And Adams About DOJ "Policy" Of Not Enforcing Laws "In A Race-Neutral Fashion"
Report: "Mr. Coates And Mr. Adams Testified That this Hostility To Race-Neutral Enforcement Influenced The Decisionmaking Process In the NBPP Case." From the USCCR's report, "Race Neutral Enforcement of the Law? The U.S. Department of Justice and the New Black Panther Party Litigation":
In their appearances before the Commission, which the Department attempted to prevent, trial team members Coates and Adams presented testimony that both raises concerns about the current enforcement policies of the Department and provides a possible explanation for the reversal in the course of the NBPP litigation. In sum, they indicated that there is currently a conscious policy within the Department that voting rights laws should not be enforced in a race-neutral fashion. In their testimony, they gave numerous specific examples of open hostility and opposition to pursuing cases in which whites were the perceived victims and minorities the alleged wrongdoers. This testimony includes allegations that some career attorneys refuse to work on such cases; that those who have worked on such cases have been harassed and ostracized; and that some employees, including supervisory attorneys and political appointees, openly oppose race-neutral enforcement of voting rights laws.
Mr. Coates and Mr. Adams testified that this hostility to race-neutral enforcement influenced the decisionmaking process in the NBPP case. The disposition of the Panther case, Mr. Coates testified, was the result of anger on the part of acting political appointees and other attorneys arising from a "deep-seated opposition to the equal enforcement of the Voting Rights Act against racial minorities and for the protection of white voters who had been discriminated against."
These serious accusations deserve to either be proven or exposed as false. While the Department has issued general statements that it enforces the laws without regard to race, these assurances do not confirm, deny, or explain the specific allegations of misconduct raised by Mr. Coates and Mr. Adams.
Unfortunately, the Department has thus far refused to address many of these specific claims or to provide the type of information that would allow the Commission to properly review the decision making relating to the NBPP lawsuit. [USCCR report, 1/27/11]
U.S. Commission On Civil Rights Is Dominated By Conservative Activists
The report was approved by a vote of 5-2. All five commissioners voting in the majority are longtime conservative activists.
Chairman Reynolds And Commissioners Gaziano, Heriot, Kirsanow And Taylor Voted To Release The Report. "Because the Department withheld relevant documents and relevant officials' and supervisors' witness testimony, the Commission was limited in its ability to complete a final report. As a result, the Commission issues this interim report, which was approved on November 19, 2010. Part A of the report, consisting of Chapters 1 through 5 and the appendix, was approved by a vote of 5-2. Chairman Reynolds and Commissioners Gaziano, Heriot, Kirsanow and Taylor voted in the majority. Commissioners Yaki and Melendez voted against the report. Vice Chair Thernstrom was absent and declined an opportunity to cast her vote for the body of the report and findings and recommendation at a subsequent meeting. [USCCR report, 1/27/11]
Bush Used "Controversial Maneuver" To Pack Panel With Conservatives
Bush Reportedly "Used A Controversial Maneuver To Put The Agency Under Conservative Control." The Boston Globe reported that the "Bush administration used a controversial maneuver to put the [U.S. Commission on Civil Rights] under conservative control." The Globe reported that "[c]ritics say Bush in effect installed a fifth and sixth Republican on the panel in December 2004, after two commissioners, both Republicans when appointed, reregistered as independents" and that the appointments "have had a sweeping effect, shifting the commission's emphasis from investigating claims of civil rights violations to questioning programs designed to offset the historic effects of discrimination." [Boston Globe, 11/6/07]
NPR: "In Practice, Three Quarters Of The Members Are Reliably Conservative." NPR's All Things Considered reported, "Today the commission has four Republicans, two Independents and two Democrats. In theory, the commission is following the rules. In practice, three quarters of the members are reliably conservative." The article quoted law professor and former Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Bill Yeomans, who said that the USCCR "charter says that no more than four commissioners can belong to any one political party," but that "[u]nder the Bush administration, two of the Republican commissioners changed their registration to Independent so that two more Republicans could be put on the commission." [All Things Considered, 4/22/10]
"Independent" Gail Heriot Is A Longtime GOP Activist Who Became An Independent Just Before Her Appointment
Heriot Reportedly Was An Alternate Delegate To GOP Convention And Changed Registration To Independent Seven Months Before Appointment. The Globe article reported: "In early 2007, Senate Republicans restored the 6-to-2 bloc by appointing Gail Heriot, a member of the conservative Federalist Society who opposes affirmative action." Savage continued: "Heriot was an alternate delegate to the 2000 Republican National Convention and was a registered Republican until seven months before her appointment. In an interview, Heriot said her decision to reregister as an independent in August 2006, making her eligible to fill the vacancy, 'had nothing to do with the commission.' " Savage reported that Heriot "declined" to cite any disagreements she had with the Republican Party. [The Boston Globe, 11/6/07]
Heriot Is A Federalist Society Activist. According to her San Diego University faculty biography, Heriot serves as chair of the conservative Federalist Society's executive committee on civil rights and has been a member since 1998. [sandiego.edu, accessed 1/28/11]
Heriot Advised GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch. According to her faculty bio page, Heriot served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and "advised Committee Chairman Senator Orrin G. Hatch on civil rights issues and judicial nominees." [sandiego.edu, accessed 1/28/11]
Heriot Has Long Record Of Activism Against Affirmative Action. For example:
- Heriod Wrote That "Racial And Gender Preferences Act As A Straitjacket To Diversity." In an op-ed, Heriot wrote, "Racial and gender preferences act as a straightjacket to diversity -- both on campus and in the work place. The tyranny of 'keeping up the numbers' prevails." [Washington Times, 7/24/1996]
- Heriot Sought To Outlaw Affirmative Action Programs In California. In her Washington Times op-ed, Heriot was identified as the co-chair of the campaign in support of the California Civil Rights Initiative, which she says would eliminate "gender and racial preferences." [Washington Times, 7/24/1996]
- Heriot Reportedly Helped Write Ballot Initiative To Eliminate Affirmative Action In Public Hiring. According to a Miami Herald article headlined "Florida chosen as next battleground to try to dismantle racial preferences," Heriot co-wrote a 2000 Florida ballot initiate that sought to end affirmative action in public hiring. [Miami Herald, 12/6/99, via Nexis]
Heriot Advocated For Bush Judicial Nominees. In an op-ed, Heriot criticized Democrats for their "stony silence" toward Bush judicial nominees Michael McConnell, Miguel Estrada, and John Roberts. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/8/02, via Nexis]
"Independent" Todd Gaziano Is A Long-Time Conservative Activist Who Has Attacked Progressives
Gaziano "Served Under Noted Conservative Leaders In All Three Branches Of The Federal Government." Despite being an "independent" on the commission, Gaziano's "Heritage Expert" page on the right-wing Heritage Foundation website states that before joining the organization, he "served under noted conservative leaders in all three branches of the federal government":
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. He was Chief Counsel to the House Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs, where he worked on government-wide regulatory reform legislation for Chairman David McIntosh. He served in the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Justice Department, which provides advice on constitutional and legal issues to the President, the Attorney General, and other Cabinet Secretaries. He also served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Edith H. Jones, United States Judge for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. [Heritage.org, accessed 1/28/11]
Gaziano Is Director Of Right-Wing Heritage Foundation Project. Gaziano serves as the director for the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation. [Heritage.org, accessed 1/28/11]
Gaziano Called "So-Called Hate Crime Laws" "Counterproductive." Gaziano was quoted in the Chicago Tribune opposing hate-crime legislation, saying, "Even the best so-called hate crimes laws are redundant, unnecessary and sometimes counterproductive. ... There is no serious evidence that any state is not prosecuting the underlying acts. All states prosecute murder as murder, assault as assault, battery as battery." [Chicago Tribune, 10/19/98, via Nexis]
Gaziano Attacked Obama Over Von Spakovsky Hold. A 2007 Politico article reporting on Democrats "blocking" former Justice Department attorney Hans von Spakovsky's controversial nomination to the Federal Election Commission quoted Gaziano attacking then-Sen. Obama's opposition, saying it was "nothing more than fear-mongering with potential liberal voters" and that the hold shows "desperation in his political campaign." [Politico, 10/6/07]
- NY Times: Von Spakovsky "Most Meddlesome" Of Bush's DOJ "Political Operatives." A New York Times editorial headlined "Another sorry ascension" stated, "It apparently wasn't enough for the Bush administration to pack the Department of Justice with political operatives. The White House has now nominated one of the most meddlesome of those partisans, Hans von Spakovsky, to a powerful post on the Federal Election Commission." [New York Times, 6/14/07]
Gaziano Supported Stripping Felons Of The Right To Vote And Said Minority Communities "Ought To Be Most Grateful." From the Tampa Tribune:
Todd Gaziano, a senior fellow in legal studies for the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank, said stripping felons of the right to vote is no different than ordering them to make restitution or perform community service.
"Part of your punishment, part of your debt, is this continuing inability to vote," he says.
Gaziano rejects arguments that such laws are aimed at stripping blacks of their constitutional right to vote.
"Felons can't possess firearms, either, and that's a clear constitutional right," he says. "I find it curious that those folks who want felons to be able to vote are not clamoring to overturn the state and federal laws prohibiting felons from owning guns."
Gaziano says the disenfranchisement laws provide a benefit to minority communities, which are often economically depressed and crime-ridden: It gives law-abiding citizens the right not to have their votes "diluted" by former lawbreakers.
"If you are concerned about people in those crime-ridden communities you ought not to listen to the hustlers, the race baiters," he says. "You ought to be most grateful for the disenfranchisement laws." [Tampa Tribune, 12/17/00, via Nexis]
Gaziano Helped Prepare Challenge Seeking To Overturn Miranda Protections. The Boston Globe reported that Gaziano "has been helping to prepare the challenge" against "the 1966 Supreme Court ruling requiring police officers to read suspects their rights." From the article:
Television viewers of shows from "Dragnet" to "NYPD Blue" know it as well as lawyers: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."
Those are the opening lines to the so-called Miranda rights, named for the 1966 Supreme Court ruling requiring police officers to read suspects their rights. But the ruling, which has become embedded in popular culture as deeply as it is rooted in criminal procedure, faces a serious challenge this week. Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether Miranda should be drastically scaled back, or even eliminated.
Miranda's critics argue that it is the honorable police officers whose work is frustrated by a strict reading of the rule. "The suggestion that we're going to retreat to rubber hoses and intimidation is unfair," said Todd Gaziano, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who has been helping to prepare the challenge to Miranda. "No one wants to allow coerced confessions." [Boston Globe, 4/19/00, via Nexis]
Gaziano Compared Clinton, Federal Civil Rights Officials To Segregationists. In a 1998 article titled "The New 'Massive Resistance': The Clinton Administration Defies the Constitution to Save Racial Preferences" in the journal Policy Review, Gaziano compared President Clinton, federal civil rights officials, and federal law-enforcement officials who use "racial preferences to distribute economic and educational opportunities" to segregationists in the South who engaged in "massive resistance" to federal enforcement of civil rights laws. [Policy Review, 1998]
Gaziano: "Conservatives And Liberals All Agree" Sotomayor Is "Dumb." Appearing on the syndicated radio show Radio Free Washington Gaziano commented: "The other conclusion I think conservatives and liberals all agree on after the hearing: She's dumb. We all were unimpressed with her intellect." Gaziano later commented: "Well, she's quite smart compared to the average person. Compared to the average potential Supreme Court justice, she's, you know, quite unimpressive." [Radio Free Washington, 8/29/09, comments at 16:48]
Chairman Gerald A. Reynolds Was A Controversial Appointment Who Acknowledged Commission's Conservative Slant
Reynolds Was Appointed By Bush. Reynolds' USCCR biography states: "President George W. Bush designated Gerald A. Reynolds to serve as Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on December 6, 2004." [usccr.gov, accessed 1/28/11]
Reynolds' Appointment Said To Signal "The End Of The Commission As An Independent Voice For The Protection Of Civil And Human Rights." A Washington Post article reported that Leadership Conference on Civil Rights executive director Wade Henderson "said the Bush administration sought to undermine the intent of the commission by appointing an ideological conservative such as Reynolds." Henderson was quoted as saying, "Gerald Reynolds's selection to head the Civil Rights Commission is the elevation of ideology over substance. ... It signals the end of the commission as an independent voice for the protection of civil and human rights." [Washington Post, 1/17/05]
Reynolds Was Criticized By Women's Law Center For Opposition To "Critical Element Of Civil Rights Enforcement." In a USA Today article about Reynolds' appointment as assistant secretary of education for the Office of Civil Rights, Marcia Greenberger, founder and co-president of the National Women's Law Center, was quoted saying: "The fact that (Reynolds) comes with stated opposition to such a critical element of civil rights enforcement [Title IX] of the laws he would be charged with overseeing and interpreting is very problematic." [USA Today, 7/18/01]
Reynolds Eventually Installed Through Recess Appointment After Objections Were Raised To His "Longstanding Hostility To Basic Civil Rights Laws." The New York Times reported in a March 30, 2002, article: "President Bush used his power to make appointments during Congressional recesses today to name a young black lawyer who is a vocal critic of preferences for minorities to be head of the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education." The article reported that "civil rights groups and advocates for women and the disabled, among others, quickly lined up against the nomination, arguing that he was hostile to their concerns and had little experience in the field." The article also quoted Sen. Ted Kennedy saying: "'I was struck by his lack of education policy experience and his longstanding hostility to basic civil rights laws.'' [New York Times, 3/30/02]
Reynolds Acknowledged That Conservatives Were "Gam[ing] The System." NPR reported that Reynolds "does not dispute that his colleagues have the advantage" and quoted Reynolds saying, "I'm a very cynical fellow. ... My assumption is that given an opportunity, Democrats and Republicans will each game the system." The article continued:
In this case, Reynolds does not believe the party switches undermine the intent of the commission's creators.
"I think it is healthy that no one point of view dominates the commission for an extended period of time," he says. "If there was a rule that says commissioners shall not change party affiliations, I think that's problematic. I started out life as a Democrat. Should there be a rule that says, 'Gerry Reynolds you can't change your mind and become a Republican?' I do not see it as a problem." [All Things Considered, 4/22/10]
Ashley J. Taylor Jr. Reportedly Served As Counsel To The McCain 2008 Presidential Campaign
Taylor Was Appointed By George W. Bush. Taylor's official biography notes that Taylor "was appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights by President George W. Bush on December 6, 2004." [usccr.gov, accessed 1/28/11]
Taylor Reportedly Served As Counsel To McCain Campaign. A November 3, 2008, Cleveland Plain Dealer article identified Taylor as "an attorney for McCain," [Plain Dealer, 11/3/08]
Taylor Served As Delegate To 2004 GOP Convention. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies listed Taylor among a roster of black delegates and alternates to the 2004 Republican National Convention. [jointcenter.org, accessed 1/28/11]
Peter N. Kirsanow Has A History Of Promoting Right-Wing Attacks On Progressives
Kirsanow Said Obama Had A "Mentor-Protégé" Relationship With Ayers. In a September 24, 2008, National Review Online blog post, Kirsanow pushed a Stanley Kurtz piece that he said described "what appears to be an attempt to cover-up the extent of Sen. Obama's ties to William Ayers." Kirsanow called it a "big story" that illustrated that it "certainly looks more like a mentor-protégé relationship than a tenuous relationship between two guys who happen to live in the same neighborhood." Kirsanow concluded his post:
The story of a why an unrepentant terrorist has such a close relationship with a presidential candidate should have reporters swarming over the Obama campaign demanding answers. [National Review Online, 9/24/08]
Kirsanow Invoked Right-Wing Bogeyman ACORN In Attacking Obama. In an October 10, 2008, National Review Online post, Kirsanow called on Sen. John McCain to attack Obama for his "judgment/radical associations" and wrote that "as Stanley Kurtz demonstrates, McCain can do both at the same time," since "Obama and Ayers serve together on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge where they funnel tons of cash to finance ACORN." Kirsanow also wrote, "And then there's ACORN's 'voter registration efforts.' " [National Review Online, 10/10/08]
Kirsanow Advanced The Falsehood That Obama Supported Infanticide. In an October 6, 2008, National Review Online blog post, Kirsanow proposed questions for "[a]nyone attending" a town hall to ask Obama. Kirsanow suggested that it would be appropriate to ask whether Obama believes "a baby is a human being" that would be "entitled to human rights" and whether Obama's "uncertainty regarding this issue [is] the reason [he] voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act." [National Review Online, 10/6/08]
- Right-wing Attack Is False. [Media Matters for America, 8/22/08]
Kirsanow: "Diversity" Is A "Feel-Good" Term. In a 2007 National Review Online post, Kisanow divided "diversity" as "the feel-good term for our times." [National Review Online, 10/24/07]
USCCR "Whistleblower" Adams Is A Long-Time GOP Activist Tied To Bush-Era Politicization Of DOJ
Adams Reportedly Filed Ethics Complaint Against Hugh Rodham That Was Dismissed. In a February 26, 2001, Washington Times column, John McCaslin cited a formal ethics complaint filed by Adams against Hugh Rodham, brother of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton. [Washington Times, 2/26/01, accessed via Nexis]
- Adams Claimed Rodham "Put His Florida Law License 'In Jeopardy.'" On February 24, 2001, The Washington Times reported that "Adams said Mr. Rodham put his Florida law license 'in jeopardy' with an admission that he accepted a contingency fee in obtaining the commutation for Carlos Vignali, the convicted drug dealer released from prison after serving six years of a 15-year sentence." [Washington Times, 2/24/01, accessed via Nexis]
- Florida Bar Cleared Rodham. A July 22, 2001, New York Times article reported, "The Florida bar has cleared Hugh Rodham of violating legal ethics." [New York Times, 7/22/01, accessed via Nexis]
Adams Reportedly Volunteered With GOP Group That "Trains Lawyers To Fight On The Front Lines Of Often Racially Tinged Battles Over Voting Rights." The legal news website Main Justice reported:
Before coming to the Justice Department, Adams volunteered with the National Republican Lawyers Association, an offshoot of the Republican National Committee that trains lawyers to fight on the front lines of often racially tinged battles over voting rights. [mainjustice.com, 12/2/09]
Adams Reportedly Was A Bush Campaign Poll Watcher In Florida. Main Justice article further reported: "In 2004, Adams served as a Bush campaign poll watcher in Florida, where he was critical of a black couple for not accepting a provisional ballot in early voting after officials said they had no record of the couple's change of address forms, according to Bloomberg News. Democratic poll watchers had advised voters not to accept provisional ballots because of the risk they could be discounted under Florida law, Bloomberg reported." [mainjustice.com, 12/2/09]
Adams Likened Obama To Appeasers Who Caused "Carnage" Of WWII. In an October 30, 2009, American Spectator piece, Adams wrote: "President Obama's received his Peace Prize, according to the Nobel Committee, for his 'efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between nations.' Norman Angell's Nobel was awarded for similar reasons." Adams went on to blame Angell's ideas for World War II:
The 1933 Peace Prize winner profoundly influenced British policy in ways that led directly to German tanks rolling into Poland in September 1939. War did not break out because nations ignored Angell's advice; instead, the ensuing carnage in Europe happened because European democracies made Angell's ideas government policy.
Adams concluded: "Churchill, responding directly to Angell, asked 'who is the man vain enough to suppose that the long antagonisms of history and of time can in all circumstances be adjusted by the smooth and superficial conventions of politicians and ambassadors?' The Nobel Committee may have answered Sir Winston's query for the 21st century." [American Spectator, 10/30/09]
Adams Now Appearing At Summits For Group That "Critics Said Trained Poll Watchers Who Intimidated Voters." TPM Media reported:
A Texas Tea Party group that critics said trained poll watchers who intimidated voters in neighborhoods with large minority populations last year is launching a nationwide effort to put an end to what they say is the massive problem of voter fraud.
True the Vote, an outgrowth of the King Street Patriots group, held a "Texas Summit" at the beginning of the month featuring prominent anti-voter fraud speakers J. Christian Adams (a former DOJ lawyer who resigned over its handling of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case) and Anita Moncrief, who was fired from the community organized group ACORN for allegedly misusing a credit card and then became a critic of the group.
Both will be featured at an upcoming National Summit on March 25 and 26 which is being hosted in Houston. [TPM Media, 1/24/11]
Former Voting Rights Section Chief: Adams Is "Exhibit A Of The Type Of People Hired By Schlozman." A July 6 article on Main Justice reported that Joseph Rich, former head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division Voting Section, said that Adams "was hired in the Civil Rights Division Voting Section under a process the DOJ Inspector General later determined was improperly influenced by politics," by Schlozman. Main Justice further reported:
Rich said Schlozman asked him to attend an interview with J. Christian Adams, a solo practitioner from Alexandria, Va., who had worked for the Secretary of State in South Carolina. Adams had also volunteered for the Republican National Lawyers Association, a GOP-funded group that sought to draw attention to voting fraud.
Adams did not have an extensive background in civil rights, Rich said, but may have had limited voting rights experience from his time in South Carolina. "He is exhibit A of the type of people hired by Schlozman," Rich said.
Rich said he sat in on the interview, but Schlozman asked most of the questions. There was no discussion of Adams' political background at the meeting, according to Rich. Adams was offered the position shortly thereafter, and Rich said he doesn't believe anyone else was interviewed for the job.
"I was invited to the interview but was never asked for a recommendation," Rich said. "This was an example of the way things were being done. There's no evidence that this was a normal hiring process." As a supervisor, Rich said, he normally would have been involved in hiring decisions. [mainjustice.com, 7/6/10]
DOJ IG "Found That Schlozman Considered Political And Ideological Affiliations When Hiring... In Violation Of Department Policy And Federal Law." 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 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. [IG/OPR report, "An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division," 7/2/08]
Schlozman Is Said To Have Picked Attorneys Who "Lacked Relevant Experience" And "Rarely Expressed Any Interest In Civil Rights Enforcement." The IG/OPR report stated that Special Litigation Section Chief Shanetta Cutlar "said that the applicants whose résumés she reviewed after they had been culled from the applicant pool by Schlozman or others in the front office typically reflected membership in conservative organizations. She also said the most striking thing she noticed about the résumés was that the applicants generally lacked relevant experience. She said Schlozman minimized the importance of prior civil rights or human rights work experience." In addition, the report states:
Former Criminal Section Chief [Albert] Moskowitz also said the candidates for career positions chosen by Schlozman had conservative political or ideological affiliations and rarely had any civil rights background, rarely expressed any interest in civil rights enforcement, and had very little or no federal criminal experience. [IG/OPR report, "An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division," 7/2/08]
"Whistleblower" Coates Reportedly Became "A True Member Of The Team" During The Bush Administration
Coates Reportedly Filed A "Reverse-Discrimination" Complaint Against DOJ And Became "More Conservative" After Not Being Promoted. A 2007 McClatchy Newspapers article connected Coates to Schlozman and the Bush-era politicization of the Justice Department. McClatchy reported that Schlozman attempted to refute the notion that the DOJ had used political ideology in its personnel practices in part by citing "the promotion of Chris Coates, a former ACLU voting counsel, to serve as top deputy chief of the voting section." McClatchy went on to report that Joseph Rich, then head of the DOJ's voting rights section, and other DOJ lawyers interviewed said that Coates "seemed to grow more conservative after his superiors passed him over for a promotion in favor of an African-American woman, and he filed a reverse-discrimination suit." [McClatchy Newspapers, 5/6/07]
Schlozman Reportedly Identified Coates As A "True Member Of The Team." The IG/OPR report concluded that Schlozman improperly considered ideology when making personnel decisions and cited numerous emails in which Schlozman discussed adding conservative members to "the team." [IG/OPR report, "An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division," 7/2/08]
- Report: Schlozman's Reference To A "True Member Of The Team" Was To Coates. In a January 8, 2010, American Prospect article, Adam Serwer reported that "several current and former Justice Department officials" identified Coates as the attorney Schlozman called "a very different man" from his days of working for the American Civil Liberties Union and "a true member of the team" while recommending him for a job:
At first glance, Coates' extensive experience with voting rights -- he first worked for the American Civil Liberties Union and later the Justice Department -- made him look like just another career attorney. But Coates' current and former colleagues at the Justice Department say Coates underwent an ideological conversion shortly after a black lawyer in the Voting Rights Section, Gilda Daniels, was promoted to deputy section chief over him in July of 2000. Outraged, Coates filed a complaint alleging he was passed up for the job because he is white. The matter was settled internally.
"He thought he should have been hired instead of her," said one former official in the Voting Section. "That had an impact on his views ... he became more conservative over time."
Coates' star rose during the Bush administration, during which he was promoted to principal deputy section chief. While not mentioned by name, Coates has been identified by several current and former Justice Department officials as the anonymous Voting Section lawyer, referred to in the joint Inspector General/Office of Professional Responsibility report, that Schlozman recommended for an immigration judge position. Immigration judges have jurisdiction over whether or not foreign nationals are deported. In his letter to Monica Goodling, a former senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who was implicated in the scandal involving politicized hiring, Schlozman wrote of Coates:
Don't be dissuaded by his ACLU work on voting matters from years ago. This is a very different man, and particularly on immigration issues, he is a true member of the team. [The American Prospect, 1/8/10]
- Coates Confirmed He Believed Schlozman Was Referring To Him. In testimony before the USCCR, Coates confirmed that he believed he was the individual Schlozman identified as a "true member of the team" in the highly politicized Bush Justice Department. [Coates testimony, 9/24/10, via Media Matters]