The conservative-controlled U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will vote tomorrow on a report — obtained by TPMMuckraker — slamming the Justice Department’s handling of the case against the New Black Panther Party for a 2008 incident in Philadelphia in which a member showed up at a Philadelphia polling place and brandished a nightstick.DOJ has defended their decision to only pursue a case against individual who held the nightstick — and not the other individual at the polling place that day or on the national party. But the report authored by the conservative majority of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights claims that evidence obtained by the Commission calls DOJ’s version of events, including that the decision was made by career lawyers, into serious doubt.
“[T]he record of communications within the Department appears to indicate that senior political appointees played a significant role in the decision making surrounding the lawsuit,” the report says. “The involvement of senior DOJ officials by itself would not be unusual, but the Department’s repeated attempts to obscure the nature of their involvement and other refusals to cooperate raise questions about what the Department is trying to hide.”
The Commission’s long-term investigation began in September 2009, and the report says it “resulted from the Department’s initial, conclusory response that was largely unresponsive to the Commission’s specific requests for information.”
The final version of the report will include letters from commissioners who disagree with the Commission’s focus and might not be ready for release for another two months. But a draft of the report obtained by TPMMuckraker relies heavily upon a story in The Weekly Standard. Commissioners say that their reliance on media reports is due to the Department’s lack of cooperation in the matter.
Read the full report below.