Two Democrats on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights say that J. Christian Adams, the former Justice Department lawyer at the heart of the scandal over the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case, isn’t credible because he contributes to a “race-baiting” website run by conservative pundit Andrew Breitbart.
Michael Yaki and Arlan Melendez, the only two Democrats on the Civil Rights Commission at the time, wrote a statement dissenting from the report issued by the conservative majority, calling the Republican-pushed New Black Panther Party investigation a “tremendous waste of scarce government resources.”
In their statement issued in the final report released this week, Yaki and Melendez say their conservative colleagues on the commission are ignoring the partisan motivations of the two lawyers responsible for filing the voter intimidation case, filed by the Justice Department in the final days of the Bush administration.
“We find it both noteworthy and troubling that Mr. Adams should seek to associate himself with the website Big Government, which traffics in deceptively edited videos,” they write. They specifically cite the edited video that Big Government posted of Shirley Sherrod. “Adams’s willingness to associate himself with people who have a history of mendacious race-baiting severely undermines the credibility of his accounts of racial bias at the Department.”
Adams told TPM that “thought leaders, all sorts of people write for Big Government” and said he had two blog posts up on his website and on Pajamas Media responding to what he said were errors in the statement issued by the Commission’s two Democrats.
In a telephone interview on Friday, Breitbart told me he thought the Commission’s report — though highly critical of the Obama administration — was a “Caucasian wash.”
“I mean white wash, I’m sorry, I get confused over the proper terminology that we are supposed to use in America,” Breitbart told TPM.
“People can see the video, people can see the actions themselves,” Breitbart said. “We are now living in an Orwellian time in which somehow these commissions and political activist judges are now the final word. No, the American people are going to be the final word. They see this for what it is. This is a white wash of an incredibly troubling trend in Obama’s America.”
“My site is a home for more conservative and libertarians and African-Americans than any site on the internet and fights the perception that there’s only one way of thinking for African-Americans,” Breitbart said.
“These people don’t do their research. Tell them they shall be hearing more from me on issues of race in America because people who are black who don’t think like them are under constant attack by the racial grievance industry. Shame on them,” he said.
Breitbart said that the attacks on Adams, who was hired during the Bush administration by Bradley Schlozman (who was found to have illegally considered ideology and politics when making career hires), were bullying tactics.
“This line of inquiry of a whistleblower — you saw the video, now you’re trying to put it on us, you’re trying to put it on me like you did with the ACORN video,” Breitbart said.
He said he’s met Adams once or twice, and they’ll both be speaking at the True the Vote national summit.
Yaki and Melendez’s statement hits at Adams and former Voting Section Chief Christopher Coates as “sources who maintain absurd beliefs in the out-sized significance and influence of what is in reality a tiny fringe group” who are “simply ‘true members’ of the [Hans] von Spakovsky/Schlozman Team.” They criticize Adams for his communications with Republican consultant Mike Roman, who runs the website where one of the videos was posted.
The statement from the Democrats more broadly slammed the Commission’s nearly two year long inquiry of the New Black Panther Party matter.
“In addition to squandering time, money and attention, the majority has further squandered the reputation of the United States Commission on Civil Rights as it spent more than a year on an Ahab-like quest to hobble the Obama Administration and to attempt to rehabilitate the disgraced record of the previous Administration’s Department of Justice,” they wrote.
“We cannot prove, and do not bother to try to prove, that the Obama Administration is not rife with covert NBPP sympathizers. Since there are reasonable explanations for the Department’s actions, we do not feel the need to adopt bizarre explanations that envision the Obama Administration doing favors for a black-supremacist group.”
They said that their dissent “should also not be read as a defense of the NBPP” which they called a hate group “whose views are as ugly as they are outlandish.”
“Among the many ironies surrounding this NBPP hullabaloo is the fact that the NBPP’s exaggerated sense of its own importance (or menace) and its conspiracy theory mentality is matched (or even exceeded) by the Commission’s majority and its ideological allies in the news media and in government. A further irony is the fact that, but for the constant promotion of this partisan investigation by FOX News and the USCCR, the NBPP might well have vanished into even further obscurity these last two years. We must posit that the USCCR majority has given the NBPP more media attention than it ever could have garnered or purchased on its own.”
Additional reporting by Rachel Slajda. Additional links were added to this story after publication.