I haven't read all the coverage on Goodling's confirmation of the reason behind Thomas Heffelfinger's appearance on the firing list. But I've read a lot, and I'm really amazed by the coverage of the interchange. Goodling's response to Ellison's question about the reasons for Heffelfinger's appearance on the list, Goodling said:
GOODLING:There were some concerns that he spent an extraordinary amount of time as the leader of the Native American Subcommittee of the AGAC and put -- clearly, people thought that that was important work, but I think there was some concern...
Goodling doesn't specify what the problem with Heffelfinger's NAIS involvement might be, so it could be any of several issues, including:
- Resource issues
- Gaming issues
- Abramoff issues
- Sovereignty issues
- Cobell lawsuit
- Voting rights
- Violent crime
Yet all the reporting I've seen has portrayed this as a matter of Heffelfinger's work against violent crime in the Native American community. To be fair, it is partly Heffelfinger's fault:
When I hear some bureaucrat in Washington say I was working too hard to fight violent crime in Indian Country, I'm outraged
Still, did no one hear Ellison's follow-up?
ELLISON:Ma'am, excuse me, could you tell me please, was there concerns about whether or not he was allowing members of Native American tribes to use tribal IDs in order to vote?
GOODLING:I don't remember anything subject specific.The concern that I heard raised was just that he spent an extraordinary amount of time on the subcommittee business.
ELLISON:Did his -- did anything about voter, tribal IDs ever come up in that discussion about problems with Thomas Heffelfinger?
GOODLING:I don't have any recollection of it.
ELLISON:Did you receive any communications from Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer regarding Thomas Heffelfinger?
Mary Kiffmeyer, you see, is the former Secretary of State of Minnesota. She's a firebreathing Republican, just the kind of person that would call up Karl Rove and complain. In 2004, she was sued for non-compliance with HAVA:
The ACLU lawsuit, filed on October 27, 2004, charged that the state's failure to conform with the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) and its restrictions on the use of tribal IDs at the polls could disenfranchise thousands of Minnesota voters on November 2, including many Native Americans.
Minnesota law prohibited the use of a valid, federally recognized tribal ID for election-day registration if the voter did not live on a reservation. Additionally, if the voter's tribal ID did not include an address, Minnesota law prohibited acceptance of the ID together with a current utility bill to show the voter's current address. The ACLU noted that the state allowed other forms of ID without a current address if provided with a current utility bill.
There have been allegations since that Kiffmeyer was not fulfilling the terms of the consent decree resulting from the lawsuit.
Frankly, I rather suspect voting rights is just one part of the reason DOJ has seemingly gutted NAIS of USAs sympathetic to Native American issues. But given how central voting rights have been in other cases (and given the fact that one of the new politicized USA hires is a guy whose "service" to the GOP consists of being an "election monitor" on SD's reservations), don't you think Ellison's follow-up question ought to get some coverage?