Is the White House politicizing United States Attorney offices across the country? The controversy continues to roil after the Senate hearing
on the topic yesterday. But that may be only half the story: a new study shows that such federal investigations may have been politicized throughout the Bush administration.
A study of reported federal investigations of elected officials and candidates shows that the Bush administrationâs Justice Department pursues Democrats far more than Republicans. 79 percent of elected officials and candidates whoâve faced a federal investigation (a total of 379) between 2001 and 2006 were Democrats, the study found â only 18 percent were Republicans. During that period, Democrats made up 50 percent of elected officeholders and office seekers during the time period, and 41 percent were Republicans during that period, according to the study.
"The chance of such a heavy Democratic-Republican imbalance occurring at random is 1 in 10,000," according to the study's authors.
The vast disparity came not from the more high-profile investigations of state-wide or federal officeholders (the disparity there was 55-44 Democratic), but from the far more numerous investigations of local officials. The study found that 85 percent of the 309 local officials and candidates who faced investigation were Democrats.
The study, based on press reports of federal investigations, was conducted by two retired professors, Dr. Donald C. Shields, Professor Emeritus from the Department of Communication, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Dr. John F. Cragan, Professor Emeritus from the Department of Communication, Illinois State University, who have been collecting the data over the past several years. An earlier version of the study was presented to the National Communication Association in 2005. The latest summary of their data (through the end of 2006) was provided to us by Dr. Shields.
The Justice Department did not respond to our repeated requests for commment.