Thursday, May 31, 2007


Journalist Murray Waas has written the definitive, for now, piece on the Justice Department scandal as it relates to Missouri and Arkansas. You will find it here at National Journal.

Remember the uproar over the awarding of fee-agent offices by Gov. Matt Blunt's administration? Turns out that story plays a crucial role in what has become a national scandal.

Some grabber grafs from Waas:
In the closing weeks of Missouri's tight 2006 U.S. Senate race, the U.S. attorney in Little Rock, Ark., took the unusual step of revealing that his office's investigation into possible state government contracting abuses in Missouri had found no evidence of wrongdoing by Republican Gov. Matt Blunt. ...

Last year's neck-and-neck Senate race in Missouri between Republican incumbent Jim Talent and Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill was a high-profile contest for both political parties. Democratic and Republican operatives were looking for any edge they could find in the race, which McCaskill ended up winning narrowly.

Republicans feared that an investigation of the Blunt administration by the U.S. attorney in Arkansas, Bud Cummins, could tar Blunt and hurt Talent and other GOP candidates on the ballot. Blunt himself was not up for re-election. The investigation was spurred by allegations that the Blunt administration had improperly awarded state contracts to political contributors to run privately operated bureaus where Missouri residents obtain driver's licenses and register their vehicles. Because of potential conflicts of interest, the U.S. attorneys in Missouri weren't handling the investigation.

Cummins said in an interview that a former senior Justice Department official from the Bush administration, William Mateja, repeatedly contacted him during the investigation and asked whether Blunt was implicated in the corruption probe. Cummins said he was unaware at the time that Mateja was making his calls at the behest of [Thor] Hearne, whose law firm had retained Mateja on Blunt's behalf. ...
Waas explains it better than anyone, and what he reports should be read by every Missouri voter.


Anonymous said...

The National Journal story is fairly accurate for what it conveys, but it makes no mention whatsoever of a crucial fact:

Todd Graves' wife, Tracy, ended up with one of the revenue fee office "plums," which instantly gave her an automatic six-figure income, thereby rescuing her from the drudgery of running a struggling small business that purported to sell educational toys.

It was the prospect of Bud Cummins (the U.S. Attorney from Arkansas who took the fee office case on recusal from Missouri's Western District) establishing hard proof of not just a conflict of interest, but a quid pro quo arrangement between Matt Blunt and Todd Graves, that the Justice Department in Washington feared the most. The entire ACORN issue involving Schlozman simply gave Graves a way of taking a "principled" exit from office.

Hopefully, a new administration will have a legitimate shot at prosecuting all of these snakes before the statute of limitations runs out.

Progger said...

Nobody knows anything, they assume that favors are being requested as some kind of public service.

Anonymous said...

The fact that Runt's campaign coffers hired counsel (Hearne, Meteja) to protect the little bastard is probably an indictable offense. Guess the Justice Dept just isn't interested.