Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Doing His Job on Madrid

Newly released e-mails and transcripts of testimony by former White House political director Karl Rove and former George W. Bush counsel Harriet Miers seem to indicate what some critics have long claimed might be true: that former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was canned because he wasn't doing enough to help former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson in her 2006 re-election against Patricia Madrid.

"... why should the US Attorney in New Mexico be shy about doing his job on [Patricia] Madrid," said Rove assistant Scott Jennings in an e-mail to his boss.

Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post:

According to e-mails and interviews with people familiar with the investigation, GOP figures in New Mexico believed that if Iglesias pursued public corruption cases against Democrats, it could have helped Wilson in her run for reelection.

A mid-October 2006 e-mail chain that started with Wilson indirectly criticized Iglesias for not bringing public corruption prosecutions in the run up to the midterm elections. Wilson attached ... a news report about an FBI investigation of Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) in that state as a point of contrast. The same day, Steve Bell, chief of staff to then- Sen. Pete Domenici, e-mailed Rove's deputy Scott Jennings to say that it "seems like other U.S. attorneys can do their work even in election season. . . . And the FBI has already admitted they have turned over their evidence to the USA in NM and are merely awaiting his action."

Jennings forwarded the messages to Rove, saying "Steve Bell sent this email . . . essentially saying that the U.S. Attorney in PA has no trouble going after Weldon, so why should the US Attorney in New Mexico be shy about doing his job on [Patricia] Madrid." Madrid was Wilson's Democratic opponent in the 2006 congressional race.

The corruption case in question -- in case anyone's forgotten-- is the Manny Aragon Metro courthouse scandal, which eventually landed Aragon in federal prison in Colorado. Not in time to help Wilson's campaign though. (Wilson beat Madrid that year by a slim margin.)

In the Post story, Wilson responds:

"My e-mail is only one sentence long and does not relate in any way" to Iglesias, Wilson said. "In early 2006, we made a strategic decision to campaign on national security and competence," not public corruption.

Courtesy of TPM Here's the White House emails

UPDATE: Rove himself has a different take:

I welcome the release of my House Judiciary Committee interviews and accompanying documents. They show politics played no role in the Bush Administration’s removal of U.S. Attorneys, that I never sought to influence the conduct of any prosecution, and that I played no role in deciding which US attorneys were retained and which replaced.

UPDATE: (8-13-09) Former Rep. Wilson e-mailed me saying her quote, noted above, in The Washington Post should have said "In early October 2006 we made a strategic decision ..."