Former Interim U.S. Atty. Inhales Helium Before Hearing, Shifts Blame to Colleague

| Wed Jun. 6, 2007 12:10 PM EDT

Former interim U.S. Attorney (U.S.A.) for the Western District of Missouri Bradley Schlozman appeared before the Senate yesterday to testify about the U.S. Attorney firings. Schlozman was folded into the prosecutor firings investigation last month when evidence surfaced that Todd Graves (the U.S.A. Schlozman replaced) was pushed out to make room for him. Eyes are on Schlozman not only because he was the first U.S.A. to be appointed by the Attorney General, without Senate approval, under the little-known provision slipped into the Reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act last spring (the provision has since been repealed), but because his actions are suspicious as well (let's just say he is not opposed to filing voter fraud cases).

Prior to the 2006 midterm elections, while he was still a U.S.A., Schlozman brought indictments against four ACORN workers. ACORN is a voter registration group that does registration drives in urban minority neighborhoods, many of which are Democratic, and has been the subject of numerous Republican allegations of voter fraud. Schlozman's decision to bring these indictments contradicts DOJ policy regarding election offenses, which clearly states that election fraud cases should not be brought prior to an election, as they may influence voters.

Yesterday, during the hearing, Schlozman did not admit wrongdoing, but instead, like many of his DOJ colleagues have done during this investigation, he quickly shifted the blame, claiming he got the green light to bring the indictments from Craig Donsanto, chief of the Public Integrity Sector (the DOJ department that oversees election crimes). TPMmuckraker points out that it would be a little fishy if Donsanto, who basically wrote the manual outlining the policy Schlozman allegedly defied, gave the go-ahead (although, I am not discounting this, considering the blatant disregard of DOJ policy by many DOJ officials, which has been revealed throughout this investigation). TPM also notes that there is evidence (a 2004 email from David Iglesias, one of two U.S.A.'s thought to have been fired for not filing enough voter fraud cases) that this action is not in line with Donsanto's past position on these cases.

So, either Donsanto is not immune to the rampant politicization of the department or Schlozman is lying through his teeth. At this point, either is plausible. I hate to be snarky, but did I mention the prosecutor sounded like he was inhaling helium moments before he took the stand?