Eleven months before seven US Attorneys were fired on December 7th, 2006, former Kansas City US Attorney Todd Graves received a call from an official at the Executive Office for the U.S. Attorney telling him he was fired. Graves announced his resignation less than two months later on March 10.
Justice Department officials would later tell Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) that Graves had been dismissed for "performance" issues, according to Wednesday article in the Kansas City Star. But that's not what Graves was told at the time. According to a source with detailed knowledge of the conversation, Graves was told that his removal was not based on his performance as a prosecutor, but that it was simply time to let someone else have a chance at the job.
That someone, of course, turned out to be Bradley Schlozman, Graves' successor as US Attorney and the first US Attorney to be appointed using the special powers granted the Attorney General in the revised version of the USA Patriot Act signed into law in March 2006.
Contacted today by TPMMuckraker.com, a Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on Graves' dismissal, but Graves' case resembles those of at least two other fired prosecutors whose dismissals have been tied to complaints from Republican party officials that they did not press vote fraud indictments against Democrats.
According to the same knowledgeable source, over the last four years, Graves, a Republican himself, had two flaps with the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.
The first, dating back to 2002, was not voting-rights related, but involved a cross-burning case where Graves helped negotiate a civil mediation. Graves hung up on the head of the Civil Rights Division at the time over a disagreement about the terms of the settlement.
In 2005, Graves again clashed with the Civil Rights Division when he declined to sign a letter outlining a voter-registration lawsuit against the State of Missouri pushed by Bradley Schlozman, then an assistant attorney general in charge of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division.
The suit alleged that Missouri was not being sufficiently aggressive in purging its vote rolls of out of date or ineligible registrations. Graves allegedly dragged his feet during the lead-up to the lawsuitâs filing and was openly dubious about whether the case would ultimately prove successful.
After the firing, at Graves' request, Missouri's senior Senator Kit Bond placed a call to the White House to briefly extend Gravesâ time in office, a Bond spokeswoman said in a statement yesterday. But Bondâs request was denied.