When John Tanner, the chief of the Justice Department's voting rights section, goes before Congress tomorrow, he'll have a lot to answer for.
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One of the most uncomfortable topics, to be sure, will be continuing charges of discrimination in the section that is supposed to be the font of civil rights enforcement -- charges that point squarely at Tanner himself. Things became so bad that a 33-year veteran analyst sent out an email to colleagues on her last day last December: "I leave with fond memories of the Voting Section I once knew, and I am gladly escaping the 'Plantation' it has become. For my colleagues still under the 'whip', hold on - 'The Times They are A Changing.'"
In an interview with NPR, that analyst, Teresa Lynn, made clear who was holding the whip in that metaphor. It was "aimed toward the leadership of the section," she said, "both the section chief [Tanner] and the deputy chief of section five [Yvette Rivera]." Lynn told NPR that she got "high fives" from her former colleagues for her parting shot.
We first reported on charges of discrimination in the section -- charges that resulted in at least two Equal Employment Opportunity complaints from African-American employees -- in May. But the same problems still persist today, Carl Goldman, executive director of AFSCME's Council 26, the union that represents non-attorney staff in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, told me: