The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was unable to reach a quorum today to vote approve a report critical of the Justice Department’s handling of the civil voter intimidation case once brought against members of the New Black Panther Party. Democratic Commissioner Michael Yaki, who would have allowed the panel to reached a quorum, walked out of the meeting.
“This process for this entire investigation has been a farce from the beginning and done in a way to diminish the opportunity of those who oppose this investigation to participate,” Yaki told reporters.
What one conservative member of the commission did discuss, however, was how TPMMuckraker was able to obtain a draft copy of the report.
“I at least want to be on the record of expressing my — my disappointment that that liberal blog was given a copy by whomever and the liberal blog posted a copy some violation of our rules,” said Todd Gaziano, a conservative on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who says he is independent of any political party.
“And I would certainly call the liberal blog to inform us of who provided that copy in violation of its rules. At least those of us present ought to make it clear that we had no involvement in that,” Gaziano added.
Much of the commission’s draft report is based on an anonymously sourced story in The Weekly Standard. The report, which the Justice Department has criticized, also chalks violations of the law during the Bush administration up to “ideological conflict.”
But the chair of the Commission, Gerald Reynolds, wasn’t so concerned with the fact that a draft of the report emerged.
“I guess I’m somewhat cynical when it comes to these types of matters,” said Reynolds “Not to say that it’s right, but it happens all the time. I think that it’s important for the public to understand, though, that the draft that was posted on this website is just that. It’s a draft. It is not the most recent draft. It would be a mistake to rely on it at this point. I think that folks just need to wait until the official document is released by the Commission.”
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David Blackwood, the commission’s general counsel, said the body will subpoena former acting Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Loretta King and her former deputy, Sam Hirsch, in addition to division officials Julie Fernandes and Steve Rosenbaum, who are key figures involved with the New Black Panther Party case.