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New Black Panther Party Case

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  • Hume bolsters Coates' credibility with false suggestion he was a Clinton appointee

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Brit Hume falsely suggested that Christopher Coates was a political appointee in the Clinton administration, and thus has credibility in pushing the New Black Panthers Party phony story. In fact, Coates was hired as a career attorney during the Clinton administration, and reportedly became a "true member of the team" in the highly politicized Bush DOJ.

  • Fox whopper: DOJ said Voting Rights Act wasn't violated in New Black Panthers case

    ››› ››› SEAN EASTER

    Reporting on Justice Department lawyer Christopher Coates testimony on the phony New Black Panthers Party scandal, Fox News falsely reported that the Justice Department had "determined that the Voting Rights Act... had not been violated" in the case. In fact, the Obama administration's DOJ obtained default judgment against one of the defendants on the basis of his violation of that law.

  • A "true member of the team": Coates defends Schlozman's hiring moves

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    Christopher Coates testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that he believed he was the individual Bradley Schlozman identified as a "true member of the team" during the highly politicized Bush Justice Department.

    In January, The American Prospect's Adam Serwer reported:

    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]

    The Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility and Inspector General's office concluded in a 2008 report that Schlozman violated federal law and DOJ policy by using political ideology to guide personnel decisions, pointing out that he discussed removing "disloyal" "liberals" while hiring conservative "real Americans."

    Today, Coates defended those hiring practices, saying:

    Mr. Schlozman found a Civil Rights Division that was almost totally left-liberal in the basis of the ideology of the people who were working in it, and that he made some concerted effort to diversify the division so that conservatives as well as liberals could find work there.

  • Christopher Coates and "the height of hypocrisy"

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    Justice Department attorney Christopher Coates testified today that the Bush-era DOJ ignored his recommendation to investigate allegations that armed agents in Mississippi intimidated black voters.

    Coates, who wanted the DOJ under Obama to pursue additional voter-intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party, testified today before the conservative-dominated U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The Republican vice chairwoman of the commission has criticized the inquiry as part of a "wild notion" conservatives on the commission have to "topple" the Obama administration.

    During the hearing, Coates testified that in 2005, Bradley Schlozman overrode his recommendation to continue investigating claims that officials in the Mississippi Attorney General's office intimidated black voters:

    COMMISSIONER MICHAEL YAKI: You were also there in 2005. There were allegations that investigators for the State of Mississippi who were armed went into the homes of elderly, minority voters, in municipal elections asking them who they voted for. Generally for them, they felt very intimidated. I believe that a complaint was relayed to the Civil Rights Division. Can you tell me what the disposition of that complaint was?

    COATES: Yes. And since Mr. Perez talked about that in his testimony, I'm going to talk about that, too. I was in charge of that investigation as the principal deputy. And we interviewed African-American voters in Panola - the name or that jurisdiction is Panola County Mississippi. We interviewed telephonically witnesses who had some investigators from the Attorney General's office come in. They were doing a voter fraud investigation. They asked these people they interviewed for whom they voted.

    There is a Mississippi law that prohibits that except in very special circumstances. Judge Lee, for example, in the Ike Brown case would not let lawyers on either side ask for whom people voted. We did that investigation, and I recommended that we do a complete investigation in Panola County, because I felt that those questions were inappropriate and improper, and it was not a way to conduct, properly conduct a voting fraud investigation. My recommendation in that regard was not followed, and the matter was not followed up.

    YAKI: Who did you send the recommendation to?

    COATES: Mr. Schlozman.

    The Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility and Inspector General's office concluded in its 2008 report that Schlozman improperly politicized ideology in making personnel decisions and discussed removing "disloyal" "liberals" while hiring conservative "real Americans."

  • Conservatives' "wild notion" to "topple" the Obama admin. resumes at Civil Rights Commission

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    Abigail Thernstrom, the Republican vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, has said that the commission's hearings into the Justice Department were part of the "fantasies" conservatives on the commission had to "topple" the Obama administration and their "wild notion they could bring Eric Holder down and really damage the president."

    This "wild notion" resumed today with the testimony of Christopher Coates, a Justice Department attorney reportedly identified as "a true member of the team" in the highly politicized Bush Justice Department, who has donated to conservative candidates including President Bush.

    Earlier this week, Coates agreed to testify before the conservative-dominated U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which has been investigating the accusation aggressively promoted by right-wing activists deeply connected to the highly politicized Bush Justice Department that the Justice Department under Obama and Holder has "a hostility" toward enforcing voting-rights laws "on behalf of white victims for the benefit of national racial minorities."

    The accusation that this is DOJ policy is in no way sustainable given the actual actions of the Justice Department.

    UPDATE: During Coates' testimony, Thernstrom yielded the entirety of her time to Democratic Commissioner Michael Yaki, who has opposed the commission's inquiry.

    UPDATE: During his testimony, Coates criticized "many of the civil rights groups" that he claimed often act as "special interest lobbies for racial and ethnic minorities."

    Discussing his decision to transfer from the DOJ's Civil Rights Division to the U.S. attorney's office, Coates claimed:

    If Senator McCain had won the election, and he had left me in, and his people had let me in as chief of the voting section, and there had been good relations between us, then I would have stayed on as chief of the voting section for a while longer.

    Coates testified that in 2005 he recommended further investigation into alleged intimidation of black voters in Mississippi by state officials, but that Bradley Schlozman -- the Bush official who was found to have improperly politicized personnel decisions at the DOJ -- chose not to follow Coates' recommendation. That decision did not ignite a "scandal."

  • J. Christian Adams' desperate quest for "proof"

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    Right-wing activists J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky are looking to reignite the phony New Black Panther Party scandal, claiming that emails between political appointees and career Justice attorneys are "stunning new developments in the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) voter-intimidation scandal" and "proof" that the "DOJ lied" and "may also have committed perjury before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights."

    In fact, Justice Department officials have long made clear that political appointees were kept informed of the decision-making process as it developed -- a fact that is in no way at odds with the statement that career attorneys made the final decision.

    At issue is an index of communications -- commonly referred to as a Vaughn index -- between Justice Department lawyers from April and May 2009, released in response to a public records request from Judicial Watch.

    According to Judicial Watch, the emails "contradict testimony" given by Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez before the Civil Rights Commission in May, specifically Perez's statements that the decision not to pursue additional charges in the case was made by career attorneys and that political leadership was not involved in the decision.