Wolf presses for New Black Pan­ther probe

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY JERRY SEPER

A se­nior House Repub­li­can on Dec. 17 in­tro­duced a “res­o­lu­tion of in­quiry” that would re­quire the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee to seek an­swers on why the Jus­tice Depart­ment dis­missed a civil com­plaint against mem­bers of the New Black Pan­ther Party who dis­rupted a Philadel­phia polling place in last year’s elec­tions.

Rep. Frank R. Wolf of Vir­ginia also said he had lan­guage in­serted in the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s an­nual spending bill re­quir­ing that its Of­fice of Pro­fes­sional Re­spon­si­bil­ity (OPR) pro­vide to the House Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee the re­sults of OPR’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion sur­round­ing the dis­missal of the case.

Mr. Wolf, a se­nior mem­ber of the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee’s com­merce, jus­tice and sci­ence sub­com­mit­tee, and Rep. La­mar Smith of Texas, rank­ing Repub­li­can on the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, re­quested an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the case ear­lier this year.

Un­der House rules, com­mit­tees must take action on reso­lu­tions of in­quiry within 14 leg­isla- tive days. Mr. Wolf´s res­o­lu­tion di­rects At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder Jr. to pro­vide Congress with “all in­for­ma­tion” re­lat­ing to the de­ci­sion to dis­miss the case. The com­mit­tee must hold a straight yea-or-nay vote on the res­o­lu­tion.

Mr. Wolf said he has writ­ten the at­tor­ney gen­eral six times why this case was not pros­e­cuted,” he said.

In Au­gust, Mary Pa­trice Brown, act­ing OPR coun­sel, said she had “ini­ti­ated an in­quiry into the mat­ter.”

The of­fice, which in­ves­ti­gates ac­cu­sa­tions of wrong­do­ing in­volv­ing Jus­tice Depart­ment at­tor­neys, has said it would share the re­sults of its in­quiry with the law­mak­ers when it is com­pleted.

Ca­reer lawyers in the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s Vot­ing Sec­tion filed the civil com­plaint in U.S. District Court in Philadel­phia in Jan­uary, ac­cus­ing two New Black Pan­ther mem­bers who were dressed in black berets, black com­bat boots, black shirts and black jack­ets with mil­i­tary in­signias of in­tim­i­dat­ing vot­ers with racial in­sults, slurs and a night­stick.

A third party mem­ber was ac­cused of di­rect­ing and en­dors­ing their be­hav­ior. The in­ci­dent was cap­tured on video­tape and gained na­tional at­ten­tion af­ter it was shown on YouTube.com

Along with the party, also named were Chair­man Ma­lik Zulu Shabazz, a Wash­ing­ton, D.C. lawyer; Min­is­ter King Samir Shabazz, head of the Philadel­phia chap­ter who was ac­cused of wield­ing the night­stick; and Jerry Jack­son, a Philadel­phia party mem­ber.

Jus­tice later sought an in­junc­tion against Mr. Samir Shabazz, who car­ried the night­stick, bar­ring him from dis­play­ing weapons at polling places un­til 2012.

In a state­ment in­tro­duc­ing the res­o­lu­tion of in­quiry, Mr. Wolf said the case had been “in­ex­pli­ca­bly dis­missed” over the ar­dent ob­jec­tions of the ca­reer at­tor­neys who over­saw it as well as the Jus­tice Depart­ment´s own ap­peals of­fice.

“Time and again over the last year, the depart­ment has stonewalled any ef­fort to learn about the de­ci­sion to dis­miss this case,” he said, not­ing that not only had Congress been un­suc­cess­ful in get­ting any in­for­ma­tion but the U.S. Com­mis­sion on Civil Rights had re­peat­edly failed in its at­tempt to seek tes­ti­mony and doc­u­ments.

“I urge the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee to re­port this res­o­lu­tion out fa­vor­ably and to de­mand that the at­tor­ney gen­eral an­swer the ques­tions sur­round­ing this case,” he said. “It is im­per­a­tive that we pro­tect the right of all Amer­i­cans to vote — the sacro­sanct and in­alien­able right of any democ­racy.”


Looking for an­swers: Rep. Frank R. Wolf

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