Some veterans of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division veterans are speaking out about what they describe as a pattern of partisan decision-making on individual cases, reports the Los Angeles Times. They said their superiors– political appointees–repeatedly bottled up cases that might harm the electoral position of Republicans while encouraging staff to pursue matters that might damage Democrats’ prospects. Department spokesman Erik Ablin said the allegations were wrong: “These are not new allegations. If you look at the actual records of these cases in the courts, it can’t be squared with what they are saying.”
Critics tied their allegations to those described by two fired U.S. attorneys. David Iglesias of Albuquerque and John McKay of Seattle said they felt pressure from Republican officials to prosecute alleged voter fraud. Joseph Rich, recently retired head of the division’s voting rights section and a 37-year department veteran, said a partisan litmus test in hiring and decision-making has undermined a tradition of nonpartisan professionalism. “Unfortunately, since this administration took office, that professionalism and nonpartisan commitment to the historic mission of the division has been replaced by unprecedented political decision-making,” he told a House Judiciary Committee subcommittee last week. Rich’s views were backed by other department veterans who have left the department. Many have joined civil rights organizations such as the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, where Rich now works.