Public officials are, by their very definition, “ public figures “ exposed to media review and voter scrutiny. We have seen that here in Arizona recently with a series of investigations, indictments, and various personal issues splashed across the headlines.
As we have said before, these are the exceptions, not the rule in Arizona politics. However, it is important to note that elections have consequences and we, as the electorate, have to live with the results.
The problem is, all too often, the local scrutiny fails to look beyond our state and see that these systemic problems are not unique to Arizona. In fact, sweeping major problems are ignored to focus our local squabbles. Case in point: Attorney General Eric Holder and his Department of Justice.
In a state where gallons of ink are spilled every day breathlessly covering perceived “scandals,” Holder skates by with nary a mention. JP Morgan loses $2 billion overnight, and no one mentions Holder’s cozy relationship with Wall Street. Guns go walking across the Arizona border, and we take Holder at his word that he knew nothing about it. Holder criticizes SB1070 without even reading it and no one besides the governor calls him out on it.
As we conclude our celebration of Memorial Day and thanking those who have paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy, it is time to take a deeper look at our United States Department of Justice and ask what it is that they stand for these days. In my view, we have a giant sink hole of credibility in the Holder Justice Department and it is beginning to take our country down.
Let’s take a deeper look:
Eric Holder and Wall Street
Did you know that Attorney General Eric Holder was formerly a lawyer at Covington & Burling, described by Newsweek as a top-tier law firm with an elite white-collar defense unit? Holder spent nearly a decade at the firm, whose clients include Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank, and you guessed it, JPMorgan Chase. Holder named Lanny Breuer the head of the criminal division of Department of Justice. Breuer just happens to be another former colleague who was then in charge of the white-collar defense unit with Holder while at Covington. Holder has taken multiple lawyers from Covington to work at Department of Justice and two lawyers have already left the department to return to Covington.
After one of the biggest financial meltdowns in American history, the Department of Justice under Eric Holder has given the silk gloved treatment to his friends on Wall Street and those who committed criminal actions that resulted in the financial collapse. In fact, financial fraud prosecutions by the Department of Justice are at a 20-year low according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data-gathering organization at Syracuse University. Prosecutions are at a third of what they were during the Clinton administration and are down 39% since 2003 and the Enron scandal.
Is it any wonder that President Obama has collected more contributions from Wall Street than any Republican presidential candidate? His appointment of Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury sent a clear signal to Wall Street that it would be business as usual in this Obama Administration, business as usual that dates back to the Reagan Administration and culminated with the financial collapse of 2007 because of the lack of regulatory oversight, the repeal of Glass-Steagal, and the passage of the comically weak Dodd-Frank legislation.
The only way this mess can be fixed now is for consumers to start voting with their accounts and move to smaller financial institutions whose policies would forbid the trading of credit default swaps and derivatives.
Where have all the old school bankers gone that were happy to make what a good lawyer makes? Find me that bank and I will be a customer. But certainly don’t look to this Justice Department to lead that charge or to prosecute any of the perpetrators, for God’s sake they are all part of the same club; “Dewey, Cheatham and Howe.”
Eric Holder and Fast and Furious
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is a bureau supervised by the Department of Justice, allowed thousands of guns to be bought by Mexican drug cartels without making any arrests in an operation known as Fast and Furious. One of the guns used to kill Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010 was part of the Fast and Furious operation.
Eric Holder claimed in May of 2011 that he had only just heard about Fast and Furious, but memos and e-mails obtained by the Los Angeles Times and New York Times show that Holder and senior Department of Justice officials had been briefed on the program multiple times in 2010. After this fact was revealed, officials said that Holder was referring to only learning the operational details of Fast and Furious recently. At worst, Holder was lying about his involvement. At best, this shows a severe lack of oversight and institutional control by Holder.
Eric Holder should be held accountable for his department authorizing this. Instead, he has set up a string of fall guys to take the blame.
Why does the ATF even exist anymore? Do we need more examples than we have of this rogue agency gone wild: WACO, Ruby Ridge and now the death of Agent Brian Terry at the hands of Mexican drug cartels?
Does anyone believe that our Justice Department and Homeland Security Department are properly organized in a judicial, military chain of command that holds people responsible?
It is time for a whole new look at what we call our justice and security apparatus in this Country. Dust off the 9/11 Commission report and really do what was recommended.
Eric Holder and SB1070
Remember when Holder spoke out against SB1070 without even reading it? This sort of “fire, ready, aim” approach has been indicative of Holder’s tenure at the Department of Justice. Though President Obama claimed the concern was about racial profiling, a claim repeated by the Department of Justice, their suit contained nothing about that issue. In fact, when pressed by the Supreme Court, the Solicitor General admitted that their suit had “nothing to do with racial profiling.”
After losing its challenge to Arizona’s employer sanctions laws, Holder is taking the same approach on SB1070, even though the bill reflects federal law and does not expand upon it, keeping it within the boundaries of the law. After a disastrous round of oral arguments for the Department of Justice, the Supreme Court appears likely to uphold the law. Only time will tell on Obamacare as well, but this summer may contain several more disastrous failures for Holder and his team.
This last point is the most clear example of how the Justice Department under Eric Holder plays its hand; its all politics, 100% of the time. Gone are the days of Elliott Ness and guys and gals who were running the department and in search of bad guys. Today, opponents are defined by their politics and if your view of the world doesn’t jibe with Mr. Holder you should be careful, a prosecution is likely in the making.
In the end, trashing Arizona and its politicians is easy, but it is done over and over again. Meanwhile, major issues that impact not only Arizona, but the entire country go uncovered and barely noticed.
If this up-coming Presidential election is about anything, it should be about restoring dignity to the Justice Department the first move there should be the impeachment of Eric Holder. The clock is ticking.