PJM EXCLUSIVE: Congressman Asks Inspector General to Launch Investigation of New Black Panther Case
A letter from Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) to Glenn Fine -- inspector general of the U. S. Department of Justice -- asking the IG to launch an investigation into the dismissal of U.S. v. New Black Panther Party -- has been made available exclusively to Pajamas Media before its formal release by the congressman.
Wolf is the ranking member of the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee -- the committee that controls appropriations for the Department of Justice. Though a Republican, Wolf is known as a moderate and a firm supporter of the Voting Rights Act.
This is the latest of several letters on the Panther case sent by Wolf to the inspector general and to Attorney General Eric Holder. They have been almost completely ignored. He has written this most recent letter in the aftermath of testimony by former Department of Justice attorney J. Christian Adams before the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights.
July 14, 2010
Mr. Glenn Fine
Inspector General U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20530
Dear Mr. Fine:
In light of the recent testimony of Mr. J. Christian Adams before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), I urge you again to investigate the dismissal of U.S. v. New Black Panther Party. Over the last year, I have asked you on multiple occasions to investigate this matter to no avail. Considering the mounting evidence of improper activities in the department’s Civil Rights Division (CRD), I urge you again to immediately initiate an investigation into this matter.
I was disappointed in your previous responses to my letters. The primary responsibility of the inspector general is to ensure “integrity, economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in Department of Justice operations,” according to your office’s statute. The new information provided by Mr. Adams to the commission last week clearly underscores the need for an investigation into whether the department’s “integrity, economy, efficiency, and effectiveness” have been compromised. I recall that you, rightly, had no qualms about investigating allegations of impropriety during the previous administration and I would hope that same ethic would remain during this administration.
There is something rotten happening at the department. Your continued refusal to investigate has been -- and remains -- inexcusable. As inspector general, you have a legal and moral obligation to go wherever truth takes you. Although it is understandable that you would be hesitant to upset the department’s senior political leadership, some of whom could be directly tied to the dismissal of this case, you nonetheless have a responsibility to investigate the mounting allegations of political impropriety.
As you are aware from our previous correspondence, which I have enclosed for your review, this case was inexplicably dismissed last year -- over the ardent objections of the career attorneys overseeing the case as well as the division’s own appeal office. Despite repeated requests for information by members of Congress, the press, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the department continues to stonewall efforts to obtain all information regarding the case’s abrupt dismissal. Recent events and information has compounded this troubling situation.
Mr. Adams was a career attorney with CRD before resigning last month in response to the department’s illegitimate instruction that he not comply with a USCCR subpoena. I am deeply concerned that the department, which is statutorily obliged to execute USCCR subpoenas, is in fact obstructing individuals from complying in this matter. I believe that this obstruction -- aside from the many troubling actions surrounding the dismissal of the case -- merit an investigation into the department’s enforcement of the commission’s statutory authority.
Additionally, I am concerned about revelations from Mr. Adams’ testimony that Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes, a political appointee, reportedly forbid CRD attorneys from bringing forward additional voting intimidation cases in which the defendant was a national minority. I believe that this allegation merits immediate investigation. There is no excuse for the selective application of federal law based on the whims of political appointees.
You should also be aware that I have asked the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) to review your failure to investigate this matter. It is my understanding that the CIGIE’s Integrity Committee will be discussing your actions at its July meeting.
I urge you again to investigate the myriad of troubling issues surrounding the dismissal of this case. With the commission obstructed from fully conducting its investigation, the inspector general must be willing to ensure the integrity of the department. I appeal to you to fulfill the duties of your office.
Frank R. Wolf Member of Congress
P.S. The American people are counting on you to ensure the integrity of the department. With the commission impeded from conducting its investigation and the Congress unwilling to act, you alone have the authority to be an independent watchdog for the American people. Please don’t let us down.