On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly and Fox News legal analysts Lis Wiehl and Kimberly Guilfoyle criticized President Obama's administration for not pursuing criminal charges against members of the New Black Panther Party. In fact, it was the Justice Department under President Bush that decided not to pursue criminal charges in the case.
Guilfoyle, Wiehl blame Obama admin. for lack of criminal charges in case
Wiehl: Obama DOJ “absolutely” should have pursued criminal charges. On the July 6 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Wiehl said that “there's absolutely no reason” that the Obama DOJ “didn't prosecute” the case. She added that “all the department did was file a civil complaint” against the Panthers, but “they never pursued criminal charges.” When O'Reilly stated, “But you say they should have done that,” Wiehl replied “absolutely.”
Guilfoyle: “No justification” for AG Holder supposedly not filing criminal charges. When Bill O'Reilly stated to Guilfoyle and Wiehl “you both don't know why the Attorney General of the United States chose not to” file criminal charges against the Panthers, Guilfoyle replied, “there's no justification.”
O'Reilly: “Nobody differs” on whether Obama DOJ should have brought criminal charges. Referencing the decision not to pursue criminal charges, O'Reilly said that Attorney General Eric Holder “did it” because “his ideology comes into every decision.” Wiehl replied that “it's not just the criminal charges, ok, let's say we can differ about that, maybe that the criminal charges shouldn't have been brought.” O'Reilly interjected, “Nobody differs about that.” Wiehl continued, saying that the Obama Justice Department “won the civil complaint, they had them and they let them go.” O'Reilly replied, "[i]t's on Holder, with a very strong Obama component."
It was Bush's DOJ that decided not to press criminal charges
Bush administration decided to file a civil, not a criminal, complaint. In his May 14 testimony before the United States Commission on Civil Rights, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said that the Bush administration's Justice Department “determined that the facts did not constitute a prosecutable violation of the criminal statutes” but instead decided to “file a civil action on January 7, 2009.” From Perez's testimony:
PEREZ: Moving to the matter at hand, the events occurred on November 4th, 2008. The Department became aware of these events on Election Day and decided to conduct further inquiry.
After reviewing the matter, the Civil Rights Division determined that the facts did not constitute a prosecutable violation of the criminal statutes. The Department did, however, file a civil action on January 7th, 2009, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief under 11(b) against four defendants.
No voters have alleged intimidation stemming from incident
Civil Rights Commissioner: "[N]o citizen has even alleged that he or she was intimidated from voting." While O'Reilly, Wiehl, and Guilfoyle stated or suggested that the New Black Panthers had engaged in voter intimidation, in an April 23 hearing on the DOJ's decision in the case, Civil Rights Commissioner Arlan Melendez noted that “no citizen has even alleged that he or she was intimidated from voting,” which “was clear to the Justice Department last spring, which is why they took the course of action that they did.” From the April 23 Civil Rights Commission hearing:
MELENDEZ: My remarks are going to be brief because I think far too much of our time has been consumed on this seemingly unnecessary investigation. Citizens should be able to vote without intimidation, and it is our Commission's duty to investigate complaints from citizens that their voting rights have been infringed.
In this case, however, no citizen has even alleged that he or she was intimidated from voting at the Fairmount Avenue Polling Station in 2008. This absence of voter intimidation was clear to the Justice Department last spring, which is why they took the course of action that they did.
This absence of voter intimidation was clear to the members of this Commission as well, or at least it should've been. Our investigation has been going on now for the better part of a year. We have wasted a good deal of our staff's time, and the taxpayers' money.
Main Justice: "[N]o voters at all in the Philadelphia precinct have come forward to allege intimidation." A July 2 article at the legal news website Main Justice reported that “no voters at all in the Philadelphia precinct have come forward to allege intimidation” adding, “The complaints have come from white Republican poll watchers, who have given no evidence they were registered to vote in the majority black precinct.”