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Justice Department Threatens to Sue Florida Over Voting Rights

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com
 

The Justice Department said it will sue Florida if it doesn’t scrap its controversial voter purge program, which critics says unfairly targets minorities based on largely inaccurate information, CNN reports.

At issue is a Republican-led effort to eliminate non-eligible voters in a battleground state that will play a key role in the 2012 presidential election.

The state said it identified more than 100,000 non-eligible voters who could be on the list illegally, according to CNN.

Although states have the legal authority to remove non-eligible voters, the Justice Department argues the program violates legal standards designed to avoid mistakes.

CNN reports:

While the Justice Department notes that states can legally remove non-eligible voters from their lists, the letter Monday argues that the Florida program does not comply with legal standards, has “critical imperfections, which lead to errors that harm and confuse eligible voters.”

Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties voluntarily ended the removal of names from voting lists on the recommendation of Florida county election officials, CNN reported.

Justice Department to Oversee Elections in South Carolina

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department announced it will monitor primary elections in two South Carolina counties following complaints of discrimination.

Tasked with ensuring fair elections, the Justice Department said in a press release that it will assure that local officials comply with the Voting Rights Act, which bans discrimination on the basis of race.

Civil rights groups have complained that Fairfield and Williamsburg counties unfairly target minorities.

The Justice Department sends hundreds of federal observers to monitor elections across the country.

Buffalo Officer Accused of Links to Drug and Being an FBI Informant

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Buffalo Police feel duped after hiring an officer who was accused of overseeing a major marijuana grow operation and  had worked as an FBI informant before his hire, the Buffalo News reports.

Jorge Melendez became an FBI informant in New York after a wire tap caught him talking to drug dealers, police told the Buffalo News. That was before he was hired by the police force.

“He was working as a confidential informant for the FBI in New York City shortly before he joined the Buffalo Police Department several years ago,” a police official familiar with the marijuana operation said Monday, according to the paper.

The police department fired Melendez earlier this month after he was arrested by the feds for overseeing a major pot growing operation in South Buffalo. The paper reported that he often drove up to the operation in a patrol car on duty and in uniform.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said his department is examining its screening process for new officers.

Melendez, 41, is on house arrest at his apartment as part of a $250,000 bond.

Ex-U.S. Atty. Christie Exaggerates About Number of Crooked Pols He Put Behind Bars

Christopher Christie/campaign photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

What’s a little exaggeration among friends?

The Newark Star-Ledger and PolitiFact called ex-U.S. Attorney turned N.J. Gov. Chris Christie on his exaggeration the other day.

Christie said at a town hall meeting  that as Newark U.S. Attorney he put behind bars  10 percent of the state legislature for various crimes. The figure is actually less than 3 percent, the story says.

“Really?” Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said in an e-mail responding to the challenge by the paper. “Every other person in the audience understood the Governor was making a rhetorical point about his extensive record in combating political corruption as U.S. Attorney and not, as you seem to be suggesting, citing, with great exactitude, some baseball statistic.”

“The Governor was emphasizing, conversationally, the gravity of the corruption which in those years reached into the highest levels of the legislature as well as high-ranking party bosses and operatives, and former legislators across this state – an extensive and politically powerful rogues gallery. Honestly, if you were actually in attendance at the town hall, heard his tone and inflection when he made this remark — and were around in those years in New Jersey — you would know that,” Drewniak said.

Still, the paper wrote, the “governor can make a point about his record on corruption without saying he put 10 percent of the state Legislature in jail. That’s just not true.”

 

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Looking into Allegations Ex-Flame Tried to Extort Money from NBA Star

Kris Humphries/nba

 By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is looking into allegations that the ex-girlfriend of New Jersey Net basketball star Kris Humphries tried to extort money from him, TMZ reported.

The tabloid TV show reported that Humphrie’s lawyers turned over recorded messages to the FBI that have ex-girlfriend Myla Sinanaj trying to extort money in exchange for her silence about their relationship.

The FBI declined to comment, according to TMZ.

Whitey Bulger’s Girlfriend Catherine Greig To be Sentenced Today

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Catherine Greig, the girlfriend of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, is set to be sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Boston.

The Boston Herald reports that prosecutors will ask for no less than 10 years in prison. Her lawyer obviously will ask for far less.

Bulger and Greig were captured by the FBI a year ago in California. Bulger, an FBI informant over the years, is accused of killing 19 people.

To read more click here.

 

FBI Reports: Crime in 2011 Dropped to Near Historic Lows

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Crime rates in 2011 fell to near historic lows, according to the FBI.

Preliminary figures released Monday show violent crimes and property crimes reported dropped in 2011 compared to the previous year.

Specifically, violent crimes fell 4 percent and property crimes dropped 0.8 percent.

In the violent crime offenses category, murder was down overall 1.9 percent from 2010 figures; forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault all fell 4.0 percent.

The FBI said there was an increase in murder in the Midwest (0.6 percent) and an 18.3 percent jump in murder in cities with populations of less than 10,000.

Political Bickering Heats Up Over Contempt Vote for Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.P

Holder wearing badge and ribbon/aft webpage

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The politicization over ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious and Attorney General Eric Holder’s response to turning over subpoenaed documents continued to heat up on Monday.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who has been leading the charge, says he plans to hold a contempt vote for Holder next week (June 20), saying Holder has been withholding documents for no legit reason.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) weighed in as well, saying:

“The Justice Department is out of excuses. Congress has given Attorney General Holder more than enough time to fully cooperate with its investigation into ‘Fast and Furious…. Either the Justice Department turns over the information requested, or Congress will have no choice but to move forward with holding the Attorney General in contempt for obstructing an ongoing investigation.”

Under Operation Fast and Furious, ATF encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hope of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels. Problem was, ATF lost track of many of the guns and some surfaced at crime scenes.

But Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Democratic Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, shot back, saying:

“It is unfortunate that the Committee scheduled a contempt vote against the Attorney General when federal law prohibits him from turning over many of the subpoenaed documents, but I am guardedly optimistic that a path forward exists that will serve the legitimate interests of the Committee in conducting rigorous oversight, protect the legitimate interests of the Department in its ongoing investigations and prosecutions, and avoid the needless politicization of this very serious issue.”

The bickering is only expected to get louder.