The Justice Department Condones Perjury … Again
A career employee in the Voting Section of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has confessed to committing perjury, sources say. The employee, Stephanie Celandine Gyamfi, reportedly told investigators from the Inspector General’s Office that she perjured herself during an inquiry into Justice Department leaks during the previous administration. Despite the admission, she has not been fired for criminal malfeasance. Indeed, it appears she has not been disciplined in any meaningful way at all.
The genesis of Ms. Gyamfi’s perjury is apparently rooted in political attacks on the Bush Justice Department. Throughout 2005-2007, numerous attorney-client privileged documents, confidential personnel information, and other sensitive legal materials were leaked from inside the Voting Section to the Washington Post and various left-wing blogs.
One of the most prominent leaks involved the Voting Section’s privileged, internal analysis of the 2003 Texas congressional redistricting plan, submitted to the Civil Rights Division in October 2003 for review under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The contents of the internal memorandum appeared on the front page of the Washington Post on Dec. 2, 2005, to great fanfare from Democrats on Capitol Hill and their surrogates in the liberal blogosphere.
Until recently, none of the Justice Department’s watchdogs showed any interest in probing the identity of the leakers. This is hardly surprising, given the far-left bent of the attorneys who occupy the ranks of the Office of Professional Responsibility, and to a lesser extent, the Office of the Inspector General. But with the departure of the former partisan Inspector General, Glenn Fine, things seem to be improving.
Although not widely known, the Inspector General’s Office is in the midst of another investigation of the Civil Rights Division. This time, the IG is probing allegations that, among other things, certain career attorneys in the Voting Section who are perceived as having cooperated with the prior administration have been subjected to withering harassment and retaliation for not toeing the liberal line on case selection and enforcement policy decisions.
During the course of this investigation, one of the individuals questioned was Ms. Gyamfi, a long-time civil rights analyst in the Voting Section. Ms. Gyamfi is one of the most extreme partisans in the Civil Rights Division, no small distinction considering the competition among her Division colleagues. (Readers of Christian Adams’ recent book, Injustice, may recall seeing photos of Ms. Gyamfi’s Voting Section office walls filled with campaign signage supporting the election of Barack Obama.)
Ms. Gyamfi made no secret of her hatred of conservatives and Republicans when I worked in the Voting Section from 2001 to 2002. Later, when I moved to the Civil Rights Division’s front office, she had a difficult time hiding her contempt any time she was forced to meet with the political leadership. In revelations now known throughout the Voting Section, she apparently went beyond hatred and resorted to flagrantly violating Justice Department confidentiality requirements and ethical obligations. It is now common knowledge in the Section that she lied about her actions to Inspector General investigators and was caught in the lie with e-mail documentation. Ahh, it’s always the cover-up.
According to numerous sources within the Section, Ms. Gyamfi had been asked in two separate interviews whether she was involved in the leaking of confidential and privileged information out of the Voting Section. Each time, she flatly denied any knowledge as to who was responsible for the leaks. In a third interview, she was once again questioned about her role in the leaks. At first, she adamantly denied involvement. Then, however, she was confronted with e-mail documents rebutting her testimony.
At that point, she immediately broke down and confessed that she had lied to the investigators three separate times. Since IG interviewees are all required to take an oath to tell the truth upon penalty of perjury, and investigators record all interviews, an audio recording of these admissions must exist in the IG files. Mind you, Ms. Gyamfi did not say she misunderstood the questions. She did not claim to have forgotten something and later remembered it. Instead, she plainly admitted her deceit and ascribed her motive to attempting to protect the “other people” involved, i.e., the other career staff (mostly attorneys) who also violated their oaths of office and their professional obligations by publicizing confidential legal opinions and analyses.
After the admission, Ms. Gyamfi returned to the Voting Section distraught, crying and sobbing. She was consoled by another career employee to whom she confessed what had happened. This was witnessed and heard by other Voting Section staff, and the story of what occurred during the IG interview was soon known all over the Section.
Amazingly, despite Ms. Gyamfi’s admission of committing perjury not once, but three times, she so far has been neither terminated nor disciplined by the Justice Department. In fact, her boss, Voting Section Chief Chris Herren, continues to assign her to the most politically sensitive of matters, including the Department’s review of Texas’s congressional redistricting plan.
More disturbing, according to my sources, is that Ms. Gyamfi is now being treated as a hero by some of her Voting Section colleagues. Many of them are gratified at her efforts -- illegitimate or not -- to make the Bush administration look bad in its preclearance of Texas’s earlier redistricting submission.
Readers may recall that Bush political appointees, overruling the recommendation of the Voting Section career staff, precleared Texas’s plan back in 2003. This led to fierce and wildly unfair criticism by Democrats and the liberal media. However, as Abigail Thernstrom pointed out in her book, Voting Rights—And Wrongs, the career staff’s leaked memorandum was a “rambling, barely coherent memo” which, as a second confidential legal memo (that was not leaked) highlighted, was full of “factual and legal inaccuracies, mistakes, and misrepresentations.”
Not surprisingly, when the Texas congressional redistricting plan ended up before the Supreme Court in LULAC v. Perry, the Court embraced the arguments of the Civil Rights Division’s political leadership and repudiated the claims advanced in the career staff’s leaked memorandum. Specifically, the Court agreed that there were only eight minority districts that needed to be preserved under the Voting Rights Act, not 11 as erroneously argued by the career staff.
And who was the civil rights analyst whose name was on the “rambling, barely coherent memo” leaked to the Washington Post? It was Stephanie Celandine Gyamfi. For the Voting Section chief to assign this admitted perjurer to review Texas’s 2011 decennial redistricting submission is a serious affront to justice. It should greatly concern Texas authorities, who have a right to expect an objective, impartial, nonpolitical, and nonideological review of their plan. An admitted criminal who harmed Texas before should not sit in judgment of the state’s current redistricting plan.
Then again, why should we be surprised? Look at how Eric Holder and his Department have mishandled the investigation into Operation Fast & Furious and repeatedly misled Congress. Holder told Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI.) that whether you are lying or misleading Congress “has to do with your state of mind." Perhaps Holder believes that perjury is now passé, or at least that a DOJ employee does not have the requisite “state of mind” when the ideological cause is deemed righteous enough. But when zealots like Ms. Gyamfi, for whom the truth is no obstacle to the pursuit of partisan gains, are allowed to control the levers of justice, we all suffer.