Obama DOJ/Black Panther Voting Rights “Scandal” Is Less Than Meets The Eye

It turns out that the decision not to pursue criminal charges against the New Black Panther Party for it’s actions at Philadelphia polling places during the 2008 election was made when George W. Bush was still President.

So, you know, nothing to see here.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Law and the Courts, Politicians, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Not according to an attorney named J. Christian Adams in sworn testimony. I noticed in the article you link to J. Christian Adams is called a conservative activist then mentions former DOJ attorney. I believe the legal term is “facts not in evidence”. Factually, the statement made was true for the most part. However there may have been circumstances which when factored in might have made that decision attributable to the Bush admin. What were the political leanings of the supervisor who made that decision. I do not believe this incident rose to level where it would have involved Bush with just a few days left as President.

    Doug, having read your posts here for a while. I notice you list yourself as a political scientist. I find more opinion than science in your blogging. I saw the video of what went on at that Philli polling place. If that is not classic voter intimidation as it was meant to be, what was it? Men in a militaristic uniform, one of them presenting a weapon (night stick) hurling racial slurs. Please, please don’t try to tell me that was not what I saw.

    Since I question your political science credentials since you seem to leave out the science part. Are we sure of your attorney status?

  2. I saw the Philadelphia video too. If you are upset about the lack of criminal charges being filed, though, you need to read the link and the sworn testimony set forward there, and then go complain to the former Bush DOJ officials who made that decision.

    As for Adams, he appears to have political biases of his own.

  3. Tano says:

    “So, you know, nothing to see here.”

    Except months of utterly dishonest spin – one might say lying – from the right.
    But I guess that doesn’t really qualify as “news”,,,,

  4. Tano,

    The one thing that this story has accomplished is that it’s given Fox News an excuse to give airtime to vile racists like Malik Shabazz and try to insinuate that the are somehow representative of other Obama supporters.

    Sort of the same way that MSNBC puts Pat Buchanan on the air and pretends he represents conservatives

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    There is on Megyn Kellys show right now, evidence the decision was made not to prosecute and it is attributed to the Obama white house. This rises to the very top. I doubt very much Bush was involved within his last few days. If that decision was made by some liberal lacky infesting the DOJ and there were and are plenty of them. I wonder why your are presenting information which accuses the lawyer involved as being a conservative activist when there is no evidence of same? I look at different evidence. Why are you not asking the reason DOJ is trying to prevent lawyers who were involved from tesitifying before the committee looking in to this? Why was that one attorney transfered to South Carolina? Can those supervisors who state there was not enough evidence to prosecute say than standing next to the video of the punk ass new black panther holding a night stick and informing americans to get used to being ruled by the black man? Had I been there, I am afraid that panther would have found he had brought a night stick to a gun fight.

  6. Yes, Megyn Kelly — my source for all news.

    Not so much.

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Now I see where you stand Doug. It is Fox news fault the black racist makes terrorist threats by making that information available to the public. That as opposed to the MSM hiding this from the people they supposedly serve. Further, what a strech that is to assert Fox news is making the claim Shabazz represents the opinion of others. However when you dress up in the uniform of an organization and go forth with a bull horn to harange passerbys to kill crackers. It would not be too difficult to convince me that was the stance of that organization. Your attack on Fox news indicates to me a fear of truth. While they in their opinion seciton lean right, the new is both fair and balanced. What liberals like yourself don’t like it the fact they present information you prefer be left unpublished. Look up Cassandra Butts and see what her involvementis int his case. Believing a lie makes you gullible, repeating the lie makes you a liar.

  8. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Gee Doug she is not on at the same time as Steward, Olbermann or Mathews.

  9. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Sorry Doug. I didn’t mean to insinuate you watch those programs when it has become obvious you use the Daily Kos and the Huffington Post as well and the New York Times as your news sources.

  10. I don’t watch Olbermann or Matthews, Zels. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that I recently pissed off Olbermann enough on Twitter that he blocked me like the petulant three year old he is.

    As for Stewart and Colbert, they are damn funny and I don’t care what you say about them.

  11. Steve Plunk says:

    What facts are we missing that make it less than meets the eye? It doesn’t matter under what administration the decision to not prosecute was made it matters why. The public deserves a full explanation of why no charges.

    Put white burly men in paramilitary uniforms outside a polling place with a night stick and see if charges are brought. We know they would be. Why not now?

  12. Steve,

    The main reason no charges were filed appears to be the fact that no voters have come forward to say that they were actually intimidated by these men. Without complaining witnesses, there can be no criminal case because the videotape itself, in which the Black Panthers are interacting with the filmmaker apparently does not constitute intimidation of a voter under the law.

  13. Juneau: says:

    Steve,

    The main reason no charges were filed appears to be the fact that no voters have come forward to say that they were actually intimidated by these men. Without complaining witnesses, there can be no criminal case because the videotape itself, in which the Black Panthers are interacting with the filmmaker apparently does not constitute intimidation of a voter under the law.

    Not put too fine a point on it, but you’re so full of reprocessed hay, your eyes are brown. This short blurb, and the resultant “defense” posts related to what it claims, has got to be one of the most feeble attempts to divert accountability I have seen in … almost ever.

    “…no voters have come forward to say they were actually intimidated by these men”

    Let’s see… holding a nightstick, dressed in militant dress, patrolling back and forth in front of the doors to the polling location, but no intimidation present unless someone complains?

    What freaking liberal boot-licking club did you just get elected President of? Unreal…

  14. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Once again Doug, it appears your information is not accurate. I was watching FOX NEWS, where there were several individuals who clearly stated they felt intimidated by the presence of Shabazz and the other soldier of the New Black Panther Party (which has been dissed by the real Black Panthers). Doug, if you are watching or getting your news from a source which is dismissing this case your maybe ought to look elsewhere as you are not being kept up to date.
    Doug read and answer the question Juneau asks of you. Oh, by the way. One of those complaining was a former Voter Rights worker who was helpful in gettting voting rights passed in to law. Probably no political agenda there? Do you still believe Obama sat in Wright’s church (?) listening to hate fulled speech for 20 freaking years and none of that rubbed off on him? Sounds to me like you had your brains scrubbed in college.

  15. Zels,

    Then where were those people in December and January when the Bush Dept of Justice decided to drop the criminal case ? Hmmm ?

  16. Neil Hudelson says:

    Juneau in short: Who cares if the law states that there has to be witnesses to press charges? I want them prosecuted no matter what the law says!

  17. Juneau,

    Let’s see… holding a nightstick, dressed in militant dress, patrolling back and forth in front of the doors to the polling location, but no intimidation present unless someone complains?

    Yea because, you see, that’s how our legal system has worked ever since, oh, the very freaking beginning.

    If the state is going to prosecute a crime, it needs a witness not just s guy with a video camera. And, in this case, the law says that they need a voter who was actually intimidated.

  18. Juneau: says:

    Juneau in short: Who cares if the law states that there has to be witnesses to press charges? I want them prosecuted no matter what the law says!

    First of all, you have corrupted the issue – as most of you liberal folks are wont to do. There were plenty of witnesses, including a videotape of the incident. The issue of the post was the presence of a specific complaint. You should read up just a bit on laws – particularly Federal laws. Many laws do not require a private complainant to be enforced. A witness to the event is sufficient. There were many witnesses. Your point is completely bankrupt.

  19. Juneau: says:

    If the state is going to prosecute a crime, it needs a witness not just s guy with a video camera.

    What type of attorney do you claim to be? So, in your world some crimes – say statutory rape for example – have to have… what? A law enforcement officer as a witness to the event in order to prosecute? As you should know- in most states statutory rape doesn’t have to have a first-party complaint to be prosecuted. The state prosecutes regardless of a complaint being present.

    Besides which, a person videotaping the act is not a witness? Goodness! You should start handing out your lawyerly business cards to all of the people convicted of theft and robbery based upon a camera videotaping the crime at your local convenience store, gas station, etc.

    Get real.

  20. Juneau,

    Please explain to me how you can prosecute a crime without a complaining witness. The videographers do not qualify, because they weren’t voters and thus can’t claim that they were intimidated from entering the polling place by the idiot Black Panther guys.

    In the case of statutory rape, yes you still do need a complaining witness and you need to prove that the person in question was under the age of consent.

    Oh, and incidentally, did you know that the polling place where these Black Panthers were “demonstrating” was a majority Democratic district ?

  21. Juneau: says:

    “Please explain to me how you can prosecute a crime without a complaining witness. ”

    This is complete nonsense… your contention is ridiculous. So – to use your legal opinion as context – if a person is murdered and there are no witnesses, then a crime has not been committed, because there is not a complaining witness? Seriously, dude.

    “In the case of statutory rape, yes you still do need a complaining witness and you need to prove that the person in question was under the age of consent.”

    You must have different laws in Virginia than we do. You don’t have to have a complainant for statutory rape – for the perfectly good reason that often there is no complaint from the parties involved. The state takes on the obligation of prosecuting the crime even if there is no first-party complaint.

    Oh, and incidentally, did you know that the polling place where these Black Panthers were “demonstrating” was a majority Democratic district ?

    Who gives a rip where it was at? How is that even germane to the issue?

  22. Steve Plunk says:

    The make up of the district is also immaterial.

    I’m curious, does the statute really require an aggrieved party for prosecution? How would prosecutors find one? What if they were still intimidated? Have the details of the investigation been released? There are just too many questions left unanswered.

  23. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Yeah, Doug. What they did is against Federal Law Doug. Is there some part of that you do not understand? Doug, remove your Bush Bashing Blinders. Doug, I do not know why the Bush Justice Department did not spend much time looking in to this case. Maybe because the incident happened in November and they were leaving office in January. I don’t know why any of it happened and there in lies the problem. What is seen in the video is a criminal act. Whether you agree or not is not relevant as attorneys for DOJ did think so. These were not political appointee attorneys they were career DOJ attorneys who had been at their jobs for years. How dare you question the veracity of their testimony? I am beggining to believe the only bar you ever passed was Clancy’s on the way home from some progressive circle jerk.

  24. Zels and Juneau,

    In other to prove a claim of voter intimidation beyond a reasonable doubt, you have to show that an actual voter was intimidated.

    How hard is it for you to understand that ?

  25. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Doug, this was not about proving the case it was about trying the case. A jury or judge or what ever would have had to decide guilt or innocents. DOJ is charged bringing the case to court. There was surely enough evidence for that to happen, as CAREER DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ATTORNEYS attempted to bring the case to court but were blocked by political appointees. You are acting like you are defending the acitons of Shafazz and his cohort. Just like you try to blame Fox news for making public what Shabazz said at some function where he had a bull horn exhorting all those within earshot to commit violent acts aganst white people. You went on to say Fox news was trying to make it sound like all those who support Obama are like that. No Doug, that is a lie. They were not trying to do that. Liberals really are not very smart are they?

  26. wr says:

    Juneau: The crime you want prosecuted is not “waving a stick around.” I’t’s not even being black and waving a stick around It’s voter intimidation. Thus you need to find a voter who was intimidated or there was no crime.

    In a case of statutory rape, there is no crime if there is no minor with whom someone had sex.

  27. Juneau: says:

    Zels and Juneau,

    In other to prove a claim of voter intimidation beyond a reasonable doubt, you have to show that an actual voter was intimidated.

    How hard is it for you to understand that ?

    Oh. Well then, I’m sure that you would go on the record here as stating that white men dressed in cammies, holding baseball bats, and walking back and forth in front of a polling site election day 2012, should be ignored by the state and federal authorities. Will you state here that there is nothing wrong with that as long as no one files a complaint?

  28. wr says:

    Juneau: So you’re saying that the Justice Department should have prosecuted a non-existant crime to prevent a real crime from taking place in the future?

  29. Dodd says:

    There’s every bit as much to see here as anyone has ever claimed, Doug:

    The Washington Times broke this on May 29, 2009…: “Justice Department political appointees overruled career lawyers and ended a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense of wielding a nightstick and intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place last Election Day, according to documents and interviews.”

    The Bush Did It meme amounts to some clever spin, nothing more.

  30. But, the decision not to pursue criminal charges against the NBP was made in December 08/January 09 when the Bush Administration was still in power.

  31. Dodd says:

    But, the decision not to pursue criminal charges against the NBP was made in December 08/January 09 when the Bush Administration was still in power.

    Yes. And the decision to drop the civil case after they had won a judgment was made several months later, when Obama’s appointees were in charge. Which, as the bolded portion of my pullquote shows, that’s what everyone’s been complaining about from the start.

    This is just chaff they’re throwing in the air to confuse the issue.

  32. Monica says:

    Doug – it appears that you weren’t really following the case to begin with and when some websites/journalists misstated what the accusation even was – you ran with it.

    Here is a breakdown of how you were misinformed:

    http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2010/07/careful-reading-tuesday.html

    Please reconsider your original post based on that information.

  33. Monica,

    I see nothing to reconsider. The post remains accurate.

    And I’d also note that we still don’t have any corroboration of Mr. Adams’ version of events.

    I am taking a wait and see approach on his allegations, rather than assuming that there is some massive scandal

  34. sam says:

    @Doug

    “I recently pissed off Olbermann enough on Twitter that he blocked me like the petulant three year old he is.”

    No shit? I don’t know what’s with those MSNBC guys and Twitter, but evidently Scarborough got Moulitsas banned from the network because Markos hurt his feelings or some such in a series of tweets.

  35. I saw the Kos-Scarborough exchanges.

    Markos was being an ass and making unfounded insinuations about Scarborough’s relationship with an intern at his Congressional office who died shortly before he left office.

    It was really quite juvenile on Kos’s part

  36. sam says:

    Abigail Thernstrom, who is vice-chair of the US Civil Rights Commission, has a dissident take on the is affair. Writing in NRO,. she says:

    Never mind this one-off stunt by fringe radicals; the DOJ is engaged in much more important voting-rights mischief.

    Forget about the New Black Panther Party case; it is very small potatoes. Perhaps the Panthers should have been prosecuted under section 11 (b) of the Voting Rights Act for their actions of November 2008, but the legal standards that must be met to prove voter intimidation — the charge — are very high.

    In the 45 years since the act was passed, there have been a total of three successful prosecutions. The incident involved only two Panthers at a single majority-black precinct in Philadelphia. So far — after months of hearings, testimony and investigation — no one has produced actual evidence that any voters were too scared to cast their ballots. Too much overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges has been devoted to this case.

    National Review Online: The New Black Panther Case: A Conservative Dissent

  37. Juneau: says:

    I am taking a wait and see approach on his allegations, rather than assuming that there is some massive scandal

    You haven’t taken a “wait and see” attitude at all, and it is clear what your position is on this matter. You got burned, and have been a party to the disinformation wagon train. Your staunch defense of the indefensible draws a clear enough picture. It is fairly obvious that there is a donkey logo hiding under the waistband of your pants ; as a “neutral” blogger you should have tightened the belt a little more to keep it from showing so clearly.

  38. I haven’t been burned at all it is a FACT that the criminal complaint was dropped by the Bush Administration.

    I would suggest you read the NRO article linked above, it is very eye opening. In fact, here’s the link again just to make it easy:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/437619/the-new-black-panther-casebr-a-conservative-dissent/abigail-thernstrom