An editorial in the the Dec. 9, 2008, Wall Street Journal is being touted by the New Mexico Republican Party. It has to do with the former federal prosecutor for New Mexico who was fired after not playing political ball with Republican Sen. Pete Domenici and Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson.
Both tried to talk with Iglesias, when he still had a job with the Bush administration, about a federal grand jury probe of prominent New Mexico Democrats, including Manny Aragon. No need to go into the details of the investigation here because the details are not the point of this comment. The point is that some time after those phone calls, and after Republican political appointee David Iglesias lost his job, Aragon and others were indicted, tried and found guilty.
But back to the Wall Street Journal and Iglesias.
The Journal editorial says it's good that Iglesias was fired because he wasn't the right prosecutor to " root out endemic political corruption in the state."
Bosh. Leaks months before indicated a grand jury investigation was under way.
Iglesias claims and the record of a congressional inquiry shows that Domenici complained to Karl Rove and others that Iglesias did not respond to questions from Domenici and Wilson in October 2006, before the general elections. His comment could have led to "political hay" in favor of Republicans. Iglesias followed the rules of the Department of Justice in not speaking to anyone about the grand jury deliberations.
It's clear that Domenici and Wilson broke the rules of the House and the Senate in bringing up something they shouldn't even have known about.
Rules of the House require a member of the House to file an ethics complaint in a matter of this kind. No complaint was filed against Wilson. Hence, the House Ethics Committee did not follow up.
The rules are different in the Senate. Anyone can file a complaint against a senator. The advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington did that. The Senate Ethics Committee looked into the matter and "admonished" Sen. Domenici for trying to speak with an independent federal prosecutor about a matter under investigation.
Domenici subsequently announced, in the fall of 2007, he would not run for office again, claiming that a fatal, deteriorating brain condition put his ability-to-serve at risk. (As he was leaving office, Domennici in November 2008 disclosed his condition had either gone away or had been misdiagnosed.)
The Wall Street Journal: "Ater Mr. Iglesias's departure, the U.S. Attorney's office issued indictments in and won two major corruption cases, and the new U.S. Attorney in New Mexico, Greg Fouratt, has picked up the pace."
Blog: Iglesias had the investigation underway and Fouratt finished it.
The Wall Street Journal: "All of this looks like vindication of the decision to nudge Mr. Iglesias out the door. Every President is charged with enforcing the law and that sometimes requires removing individuals who resist certain law enforcement priorities. We said at the time that Mr. Domenici crossed a line in lobbying Mr. Iglesias, but it turns out he was right about the possible corruption to explore."
Bosh PLUS baloney. The grand jury was investigating and compiling information months before the Domenici/Wilson talks with Iglesias. After Iglesias was fired, the investigation continued to be built by the new prosecutor.
Rupert Murdoch: Get your timeline straight.
Interested in the whole editorial?
NM Vindication - Remember that U.S. Attorneys hoohah
January 9, 2009 –
Governor Bill Richardson says it's all a matter of timing -- that if only the feds had wrapped up a corruption investigation into his New Mexico Administration by now, he'd be cleared and would be winging his way to Washington confident of Senate confirmation as the next Commerce Secretary. Instead, he withdrew his nomination earlier this week.
And maybe he's right about timing. But we'd dial the clock back not to August, as the national media have in clucking that Barack Obama has a sloppy vetting process. Rather, go back to December 7, 2006. That's the day the Bush Justice Department dismissed U.S. Attorney David Iglesias of New Mexico. His dismissal, along with that of six other U.S. Attorneys, set the stage for a political firestorm when Democrats claimed the firings were proof that the Bush Administration was "politicizing justice."
Mr. Iglesias put himself at the center of that storm by claiming he was fired because he hadn't pursued voter fraud cases vigorously enough. He also claimed he had been pressured by two Republican Members of Congress to speed up a public corruption investigation shortly before the November elections handed Democrats control of Congress. Those Republicans were Senator Pete Domenici, who has since retired, and Representative Heather Wilson, who ran for his seat and lost.
Democrats eventually ran Attorney General Alberto Gonzales out of town. But the nub of the criticism of Mr. Iglesias -- that he wasn't the right man to root out endemic political corruption in the state -- was never substantially refuted. Mr. Iglesias did nab a pair of state Treasurers. He compelled one to plead guilty to an extortion charge and indicted the other on nearly two dozen counts of corruption. He lost in court on all but one count.
Ater Mr. Iglesias's departure, the U.S. Attorney's office issued indictments in and won two major corruption cases, and the new U.S. Attorney in New Mexico, Greg Fouratt, has picked up the pace.
The investigation that derailed Mr. Richardson involves political donations from David Rubin and his Beverly Hills-based company, CDR Financial Products Inc., in 2003 and 2004 that total $100,000. Those donations were given to campaigns Mr. Richardson ran that registered Hispanic and Native American voters, among other things. And they came at about the same time that CDR won a lucrative contract from New Mexico.
All of this looks like vindication of the decision to nudge Mr. Iglesias out the door. Every President is charged with enforcing the law and that sometimes requires removing individuals who resist certain law enforcement priorities. We said at the time that Mr. Domenici crossed a line in lobbying Mr. Iglesias, but it turns out he was right about the possible corruption to explore.
As for Mr. Fouratt, he wasn't appointed by President Bush. He was appointed about a year ago by a panel of federal judges. The veteran prosecutor and former U.S. Air Force officer doesn't seem interested in meeting political timetables and rarely talks to the press. We hope that after being sworn in on January 20, Mr. Obama gives Mr. Fouratt all the time he needs to finish his investigation.