I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Rogers was White House aide’s ‘dream’ pick to replace Iglesias
Scott Jennings, a special assistant to then-President George W. Bush — and Karl Rove’s right-hand-man — wanted to replace fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias with prominent New Mexico GOP attorney Pat Rogers, Talking Points Memo reported this morning
TPM pointed to the recently released transcripts of Senate Judiciary Committee interviews with Rove, as well as e-mails on the subject.
“Rogers would be the dream” candidate to replace Iglesias, Jennings wrote to his boss in a January 6, 2007 e-mail, a month after Iglesias was fired.
Jennings was an ambitious operative intimately familiar with the political landscape in New Mexico. As his bio states:
Before he joined the White House staff, President Bush’s re-election campaign asked Scott to move to New Mexico to manage its efforts there in 2004. Scott and his team flipped New Mexico from blue-to-red, one of only two states to go that way between 2000 and 2004. Scott’s efforts caught the attention of the White House, landing him in Washington.
Although Jennings had never met Iglesias, he did know Rogers and other state GOP figures. Once he moved Washington to work for Rove and Bush, Jennings invited Rogers and another state GOP lawyer, Mickey Barnett, to the White House for a breakfast. During testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., asked Jennings why, after the breakfast, Jennings asked the White House liaison to the Justice Department, Monica Goodling, to meet with the two New Mexicans “on a sensitive issue.”
Rogers had been a vocal critic of Iglesias, who he said had not been aggressive enough in pursuing charges of voter fraud. In 2004, Rogers pushed Iglesias repeatedly to pursue voter registration fraud cases, specifically against ACORN. Voter fraud was an issue he believed, if pushed properly, could help Republicans win.
In the transcripts released yesterday, House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., pursues, a long line of questions about voter fraud, specifically about what the investigators see as the attempt by Rove to use allegations of voter fraud to their political advantage. The questions suggest that Rove wanted Iglesias to make voter fraud an issue in New Mexico because he would be seen as impartial.
From page 37 of the transcript:
Schiff: Suggesting that one party was engaged in voter fraud, whether it was true or not, could have a political impact on an election, couldn’t it?
Rove: As I have said twice before, a de minimis impact. And it also you are — implicit in your question is that only one party is engaged in voter fraud. That has not been my experience.
Schiff: Now, if you went to New Mexico, for example, and made an allegation of voter fraud, by virtue of your position as a political adviser to the President, that would tend to be discredited by some voters. Am I right?
Rove: Every argument in politics generates a counter argument, yes.
Schiff: And the fact of your position, though, would have an effect on how voters would perceive your raising the issue.
Schiff: That issue would have more impact if the accusation came from a neutral party. Am I right?
Rove: Like the Albuquerque Tribune, yes.
Schiff: Or like a U.S. Attorney. Am I right?
Rove: I am not certain that — you may have the view that U.S. Attorneys ought to be used as people making political accusations in political campaigns. That is not my view.
Schiff: But a U.S. Attorney making an allegation of voter fraud would carry much more weight than if Karl Rove, political adviser to the President, made that allegation. Am I right?
And it continues with this exchange on page 41, where Rogers’ name comes up in a discussion of voter fraud:
Schiff: Take a look at page 161 and 162 of the OIG report. That is the other binder in front of you. Do you know a Republican from New Mexico named Pat Rogers, who is now a member of the executive committee of the Republican National Committee?
Rove: Yeah, I know of him, yes.
Schiff: And how do you know of him?
Rove: He is a long-time Republican activist in the State.
Schiff: The OIG report quotes an e-mail Mr. Rogers sent to a number of people associated with the New Mexico Republican Party as follows: “I believe the voter ID issue should be used now at all levels, Federal, State, legislative races, and Heather Wilson’s race. You are not going to find a better wedge issue. I have got to believe the voter ID issue would do Heather more good than another ad talking about how much Federal taxpayer money she has put into the State education system and Social Security. This is the single best wedge issue ever in new New Mexico.” He then goes on to talk about a lawsuit they plan to file concerning voter registrations by ACORN. Isn’t it correct, Mr. Rove, that some Republicans active in the Republican National Committee believed that this was a great wedge issue?
Rove: Mr. Rogers obviously did. I don’t.
Schiff: Did you ever pass on complaints about voter fraud by groups affiliated or leaning towards Republicans?
Rove: I don’t recall.
Also released were zillions of e-mails pertaining to the fired U.S. attorneys, including this gem from state Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, who had e-mailed Rove to weigh in on the discussion of a replacement for Iglesias. Adair wrote that although Rogers would be “a fantastic choice,” he didn’t want him to be nominated because, “he is simply too valuable an asset elsewhere.”
Here’s the whole thing:
—— Forwarded Message
From: Rod Adair
,Date: Sat, 6 Jan 2007 11:56:05 -0500
To: Karl Rove <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Conversation: US Attorney .
Subject: US Attorney
This Is a rare moment’when a matter is of such importance
that I must contact you.
The Albuquerque Journal this morning reported four names .
in consideration.for US· Attcirney for New Mexico. Three
are quite acceptable, the fourth would be a disaster. (Actually
Rogers would be a fantastic ·cholce, but it would be my hope
that he would never accept it – which I. am also certain Is
the case – ·in that he is simply too valuable an asset elsewhere.)
The singular wrong pick In this group would be Chuck Peifer.
He is, in shorthand, a wuss.
…If you are looking for someone who will follow the law scrupulously,
‘be fair, be honest, and be of service to the nation, all four~ even
Peifer, would be qualified (none more than’ Rogers, who,better not
get it). But if you are looking forsomeone who will do all the above
AND withstand any criticism, stand up to theWard ChurcbillLMkhaeL
Moore-bulliel;-Qf-the-world-and:norwony about critiCism ‘for doing
his job” the PEIFER IS DEFINITELY NOT THE CHOICE.
After receiving this message from Adair, Rove forwarded it to Jennings, asking “What is the situation here?” To which Jennings responded:
—— Forwarded Message
Date: Sat, 9 Jan 2007 12:42:27 -0500
To: Karl Rove <KR@georgewbush.com>
Conversation: US Attorney
Subject: Re: US Attorney
Domenici wants Peifer.
Our political team wants Bibb, but Dornenici doesn’t like him for some reason•
..Rogers would be the dream, but won’t do it.
The other is .a throw-away name.
After Iglesias was fired, Rogers continued to pursue voter fraud allegations. In October 2008, just before the presidential election, he and other state GOP members (including former state Rep. Justine Fox Young, an associate of Barnett’s) claimed they had “bombshell” evidence of voter fraud at a press conference, handing out copies of voter registration cards and documentation suggesting that the registrations were fraudulent.
Days later, the claims fell apart as the allegedly fraudulent voters began appearing at press conferences to demonstrate that they were, in fact, real people and legally registered.
Also in 2008, in his capacity as attorney for the Republican Party of New Mexico, Rogers hired a private investigator to investigate possible voter fraud.
The private investigator’s visits to the homes of several voters resulted in two voter intimidation lawsuits, one filed by the ACLU and the other by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, and the cases also attracted the attention of investigators from the Department of Justice.