“Tim Griffin should be in jail.” That’s the conclusion of civil rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. after going through the evidence I asked him to review.
But Griffin’s not in jail: he’s in Congress. And Tuesday, he’ll be the first Congressman the Republicans have chosen to bring to their convention podium.
Predictably, I haven’t seen one US press report noting that in 2007, Griffin resigned from the Justice Department in disgrace, ahead of what could have been (should have been), his indictment.
Kennedy thought a couple of other characters should join Griffin in the lockup: first, Griffin’s boss, the man whom George W. Bush gave the nickname, “Turdblossom”: Karl Rove.
And there’s yet another odiferous blossom, Griffin’s assistant at the time of the crime: Matt Rhoades. Rhoades isn’t in jail either. He’s the campaign director of presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
(Note: This story is based on the investigations in Palast’s new book, “Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps” – with a forward by Kennedy and comics by Ted Rall.)
Kennedy had gone over the highly confidential emails we’d gotten from inside Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington. (How we got our hands on private emails from the top dogs in the Republican campaign, well, that’s another story. I can say, they were sent directly from the computer of Griffin. Rove, a computer expert, is careful not to have his own.)
“What they did was absolutely illegal – and they knew it and they did it anyway,” Kennedy told me.
What they did was called voter “caging.” The RNC sent letters by the thousands to soldiers, first class, marked, “DO NOT FORWARD.” When the letters were returned undelivered, the Republicans planned to use these “caged” envelopes as evidence the voters were “fraudulent” – then challenge their ballot.
A soldier mailing in his or her vote from Iraq would have that ballot disqualified – and the soldier wouldn’t even know it.
That’s not just sick, it’s a crime, a violation of the Voting Rights Act drafted by Kennedy’s late father. And it was a crime because of whom the RNC caging crew attacked: not just any soldiers, but soldiers of color.
Running a vote-challenge operation based on racial profiling is a go-to-jail felony.
And after the soldiers, the “Turdblossom” gang targeted students at traditionally black schools (away on summer break), homeless men and a few precincts of Jewish voters. In other words, anyone whose politics was Blue-ish.
Look for yourself. Here is one Griffin “caging” list, targeting the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida.
The emails were dated August 2004, just before the presidential election. “Caging” would cost Bush’s opponent John Kerry more than one state. At the time, Rove was senior counselor to the president, Griffin head of “Research” at the RNC and his gofer Rhoades director of Opposition (read “Smear”) Research.
But they did more. Rove and Griffin were up to their necks in the firing of federal prosecutors. One, the US attorney for New Mexico, David Iglesias, told me the two illegal acts were tied together: Captain Iglesias (he’s a Naval JAG), himself a Republican, said he was fired because he refused to go along with RNC demands that he arrest innocent citizens on fake charges of fraudulent registration. Iglesias was horrified at this Soviet-style tactic. “I thought I was a Jedi warrior, but it turns out I was with the Sith Lords.”
So, Rove had Bush fire him and seven other prosecutors, including Bud Cummins, US attorney for Arkansas. In his place, Bush appointed … Tim Griffin.
Things Go Better With Kochs
Griffin won’t talk to me, nor will Rove nor Romney’s man Rhoades about the racial caging game and the related firing of federal prosecutors.
But never mind: I have his personal emails and the testimony of Captain Iglesias. And that was enough, in 2007, for BBC to put the “caging” evidence and the real story of the prosecutor firing on the air.
By the next morning, Griffin resigned his post at US attorney for Arkansas. He was in tears.
But Tim’s tears were soon wiped away – by the Koch brothers. In 2010, Koch interests dumped $167,183 into Griffin’s campaign for Congress. For $167,183, your average Congressman will wash your car – with their tongue.
Tim won the Little Rock seat, and here he is in Tampa. Despite the fact that he’s an unknown freshman from an unswing state, he’s been given the extraordinary honor of speaking for the entire Republican Congressional delegation.
And now you know why: In Congress, he’s Rove-bot No. 1, owned and operated by Koch Industries.
Why would the Kochs do this for the disgraced Griffin? Answer: It’s what Griffin does for them.
Among other favors, Griffin is the top cheerleader in the House for the XL pipeline – whose approval is vital to the billionaire Kochs making more billions.
But wait! The Kochs don’t own the XL pipe nor the Canadian tar sands from which it comes. So, why do they care?
Well, that’s another story, in another chapter, “XXXL Pipeline” in “Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal the Election in 9 Easy Steps,” out September 18. Author’s proceeds from the book go to the not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund for reporting on voter protection issues, which has partnered with Truthout to bring you these investigative findings – and the comic book inside by Ted Rall.