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April 06, 2007


Interesting thought; knowing this is your home state, I assume you also think Ehlers has the morals to to be so taken aback. Your thoughts in this regard (the Rove angle) may be tangentially related to the Minnesota situation. In a discussing the breaking Miennesota story last night at TPM, I related the followiwng to Josh:

"Minneapolis Minnesota. Ground zero for yet another focal point in the "Rove Math". The GOP, as we all know, has a tough road ahead in the 2008 Congressional elections and, as to the Senate, saving Norm Coleman is imperative to them. It is shaping up that the purpose behind the malevolent manipulation of the US Attorneys is bifurcated; some occurred as a result of the prior acts of investigation/lack of investigation prong and some to place political operatives in position to effect future acts prong. Really, when you consider the full scope of what hath been wrought by this crew, has there ever been a more insidious cancer on the health of American democracy?"

Woops! The filter prompted me twice; figured I botched the first one. Sorry!

From my point of view, what you wrote was worth reading twice. -:)
As many others have pointed out, we cannot just look at the cases of the eight dismissed USAs. We must also be concerned about those not targeted for dismissal and those appointed by the Rove/Bush/Gonzales political operation, e.g., Ms. Paulose in Minnesota.

Crosspost from Firedoglake -- I got EPU'ed on this post -- you know I do check books for odd details, and FDL just works too fast for me and my book checking or note checking and thinking habits -- Anyhow it is a mite of background on the Minnesota situation.

There is a great deal more to this story than what I've laid out here. The Heffelfinger who married Wilkie became, eventually, a grand dame who liked to tell stories of her great sexual conquests with much wine, and what they were all about and like. When she was quite old, I got invited to an overnight at the Wisconsin "camp" of the family where most of the guests were A-List Gay men -- I wish I had the guts to blog all the stories.

Copied post....
Thought I would just add a few nuggets to Emerson at 31 and Barbara at 27 about the background of the Heffelfingers.

The Heroic Civil War Heffelfinger, Lt. Chris Heffelfinger of the First Minnesota, was wounded at Gettysburg the day before Pickett's Charge, when the First Minnesota Saved the Union at the Wheat Field. (Read a sophisticated Military History of this whole battle, and you will comprehend the importance of what the First Minnesota did that day. And the successor to that regimental outfit -- a National Guard Unit, is right now HQ'ed north of Baghdad, it has been there a year, and was just extended for four more months. --and they lost two soldiers this week.)

One of the Chris Hefflefinger granddaughters married Wendell Wilkie, GOP Candidate in 1940, and early opponent of Republican Isolationism. (Wrote "One World" after his defeat by FDR. I've never read it in English, but the Danish Underground published a Danish version during the German Occupation, and as I was learning Danish, I read that version on really bad acidic paper.) His grandson, Wendell Wilkie III was a high level appointee in the GHWBush DOJ, and returned for a year or so during the early Ashcroft years. It is his cousin -- either a grand Nephew of Wilkie, or a grandson -- who is the USA who resigned to make way for Paulouse, and who was not invited to the investiture. The USA Heffelfinger served as USA for one year during the Bush One administration, and was supported for re-appointment in 2001 by both Wellstone and Dayton who were then our Senators.

Another dimension to all this was the surprise take-over of the MNGOP last year by the Christianists. Apparently much to the surprise of the leading elected officials, such as the Governor, Kennedy then running for Senate, and Coleman, the former head of the Minnesota Christian Coalition jumped into the race for GOP State Chair at the last minute, and won over the conservative but slightly more traditional and pragmatic former chair seeking re-election. So the party leadership is of the same school as Bachman, and I would just suspect that the appointment of Paulouse and the removal of Heffelfinger, as USA was a chit they demanded. Perhaps that is why Bachman was so kissie wissie with Bush in the house aisle during the SOTU appearance. So we go from the bloody sacrifice of the First Minnesota at the Wheat Field at Gettysburg to the exchanged kisses between Bachman and Bush -- and perhaps a sense of the distance in the wrong direction we have traveled.


I don't think it's a question of morals. As I understand, Chiara was well-liked among the GR Republican crowd (though I do wonder whether Dick DeVos had something to do with her being axed).

There was a March 22 diary at dKos about the USA firings. I went back and read it again and two things jumped out at me this time.

from the diary:

So what was USA MN Heffelfinger working on when he left? Bloomberg reports on Nov. 3, 2006.

William McGuire, chief executive officer of UnitedHealth Group Inc., may face criminal charges for reaping $333 million from stock options that might have been backdated to raise their value, say former securities regulators not involved in the case.

< snip >

The firm retained by UnitedHealth? According to UnitedHealth:

Dorsey & Whitney LLP, a national law firm based in Minneapolis, has served as United HealthCare's outside counsel since the early 1980s.

< snip >

Dorsey & Whitney--the same firm Rachel Paulsoe worked for until Dec. 2005. She left Dorsey in Dec. 2005 to go to McNulty's office in Jan. 2006.

But wait, on Feb. 17, 2006 she was named the Interim USA of MN. So she went from the firm that represented UnitedHealth Group, to main DoJ overseeing Health Care Fraud, to Interim USA of MN overseeing prosecution of her ex-firm's client. And, all this "unforeseen" activity in a mere 1-1/2 months.

also this diary points to a connection with NAIS [Native American Issues Subcommittee] members. from the diary:

Heffelfinger told Minnesota Lawyer that five of the eight [USAs] who were dismissed worked closely with him on Native American issues and were among his closest friends in the U.S. attorney ranks.

it certainly supports bmaz's two-pronged motive... past and future actions.


Wow Sara, is there anything you do not know about in terrific detail?

Sorry, off topic, the fact that the 1st MN's martydom was on the second day is huge. Were it not for the 1stMN and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain's 20th Maine on the second day, Lee never would have had to order Pickett's Charge on the third day. If either the 1st MN or the 20th Maine don't "win," the Army of the Potomac is split. Robert E. Lee marches SOUTH down to DC. Lincoln escapes to New York and George McClellan wins the Presidential election of 1864 and allows the Southern slave owners to continue treating African Americans with the same care that they reserved for their livestock, (except that sex with livestock was not nearly as profitable as sex with African American women).

1stMN started their charge with 262 men. When they pulled back, iirc, 82% were either killed or wounded. I think that's a record for a US regiment in any battle anywhere (South or North). Pickett's regiments were not that decimated the next day. Custer didn't lose that high a percentage at the Little Big Horn (most of the men who served with Reno and Benteen survived). The Battle of Thermopylae, historical basis for the movie the "300" is about defense. The 1st MN mounted a charge to allow the Union General Hancock to bring reinforcements to plug the gap in his line. The 1stMN walked into FIVE Alabama regiments. That blunted the Alabamians' attack. I think most military historians would rank the 1st MN with any military group, anywhere, anytime. They were volunteers who started with 1,000 in 1861. They knew this was a suicide charge, but they made it anyway. History books that say the Union was going to win the Civil War anyway by sheer weight, are flat wrong. The Union could have lost the war several times, at least. IMVHO, it was never hanging by a more slender thread than just before the 1st MN made their suicide charge.
OT, if you go to Gettysburg, you can walk the very short walk the 1stMN made. It's a very narrow dirt path, that IIRC, is about two or three hundred yards that runs perpendicular to the Union battle line. All along that battle line are large statutes erected after 1865 by the Northern states to commemorate their men who fought at Gettysburg. The monument to the 1st MN is one of the smallest and least gaudy along that line.

OT, off topic. IMVHO, the Southern plantation owners were most responsible for the slavery of African Americans. They, however, were closely followed imvho by Northern industry who profited greatly, because those plantation owners had more money to buy their goods.

"Heffelfinger told Minnesota Lawyer that five of the eight [USAs] who were dismissed worked closely with him on Native American issues and were among his closest friends in the U.S. attorney ranks."

Heffelfinger got very deeply involved in the Red Lake Reservation Shooting matter, and it is very complex. Again, to understand him one has to dip back into family history and comprehend those who made a fortune by cutting down the Northern Forests, and the Heffelfingers were leaders in that.

But there are other players about and how they organize themselves is not totally clear. Back in 2000 the Abramoff outfit tried to represent the Wisconsin Winneabago against the Minnesota Sioux over a dog track and casino, with hopes of taking business away from the Sioux at Treasure Island. Likewise they tried to threaten the Ojibwa or Chippewa (of which Red Lake is one traditional closed reservation), by promoting competition to the Hinkley

When the Red Lake school shooting occurred (which had nothing to do with the Casino trade), Heffelfinger refused to play it in a way that would benefit the Bush Administration. The Shooting was in part the result of a kid, already diagnosed with mental problems, who could not get treatment through the Indian Health System on reservation, and could not get reliable transport to the mental health facility about 60 miles away. Tom Heffelfinger spoke out loudly about the need to get the Treaty Required Indian Health System in collaboration with the State Mental Health System. The Bushies wanted to play their tribal casino script on it -- and others had even worse ideas. But the Grand and Great Grand son of someone who made the family fortune ripping off the Northern Forests did understand the context -- and he stood on what he understood, rather than offer up the wedge to Abramoff.

Yea, I know this is all obscure. What they want to control in various parts of the country is not necessarily familiar to people who have not dug into local environments and arrangements. But in this instance I would look at how Tom Heffelfinger essentially stopped Abramoff running his script pitting three Indian tribes against each other for profit. It started before the Red Lake shooting -- but became much more pointed thereafter, particularly as the Bushies tried to use the shooting as a means to push the script. You can't write an indictment on this stuff but it is significant.

the insurance case seems very important. If you look at this link, she got in trouble right off by her first act, which was shutting down any contact with the media over pending cases.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Moscow on the Mississippi

We’re not talking here about a KGB directive, but a new and questionable media policy instituted this week by Rachel Paulose, the recently appointed top federal prosecutor for Minnesota.

First a requisite lowdown on Paulose. The 32-year-old Minnesota native -- born and raised in the Twin Cities -- was appointed to the post after longtime federal prosecutor Tom Heffelfinger stepped down last year.

She is the first woman and the first Asian American to head the local federal office. She is the granddaughter of Indian immigrants and the daughter of Joseph Paulose of Eagan, an administrator for Hopkins public schools.

Heffelfinger, and his two predecessors, David Lillehaug and Todd B. Jones, played things close to the vest in terms of releasing information about active cases. But they all understood the critical role of the media in disseminating information about important cases or issues they felt the public needed to know about. They sat down with newspaper editorial boards. They held backgrounders on complicated cases or issues. They spoke in general terms about specific cases without hampering prosecution.

Were they perfect? No way. They never gave me any real good scoops. None approached Rudolph Giuliani, the former Manhattan federal prosecutor and still, in my eyes, the reigning master media manipulator in that position.

Paulose, who has worked the past few years on the civil litigation side of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C., seems to be towing the agency line when it comes with dealing with the public through the mass media. Paulose, as far as I know, has turned down every request for either a face-to-face interview on the record or a simple and mostly informal meet and greet from members of the local media.

My request for a sit-down months ago, just to chew the fat and say hello, was unceremoniously turned down. No sweat off my back, but it spoke volumes about what was to come. So I was not surprised in the least when our standout legal affairs reporter, Shannon Prather, informed me of a new media policy issued by Paulose’s office.

The office’s long time public relations spokesperson, Karen Bailey, who ably worked for all three previous U.S. attorneys, is no longer doing that job. A recording identifying Bailey as the office’s “external relations specialist’’ also makes a point to inform callers that “if you are a member of the media’’ to call a general media hotline.

Here’s more from Prather’s missive on the Paulose edict: “New U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose has set up a media phone line where reporters are to leave messages outlining their requests. … The U.S. Attorney’s office will no longer be commenting on any open cases. They will not be confirming or denying investigations. They will no longer provide court documents to members of the media. You will be automatically referred to the clerk of courts."
Jeanne Cooney, the office’s long time executive secretary, emphasized that Paulose has nothing against the local media. According to Cooney, DOJ policy prohibits her from making any public statements or meeting with folks until the Senate confirms her.

Paulose was named to the interim post in March DOJ head Albert Gonzales, a move officially endorsed by President Bush.

DOJ officials in Washington confirmed the no-talking-until-confirmed policy.

"Longstanding department policy is that unconfirmed nominees do not conduct media interviews until they are confirmed by the United States Senate,'' said Tasia Scolinos, DOJ's director of public affairs.

"This is true for nominees across the country and those here in Washington,'' she added. "I know that it is Ms. Paulose's desire to engage with the media on important law enforcement issues facing the community and I have no doubt she will do so fully as soon as she is confirmed." ....

Minnesotans and the local media, frankly, deserve better than this from the state’s top federal prosecutor.

Raw Story just posted that snips from a Wolf Blitzer report. MONICA has RESIGNED. Late on a Friday of course. No suprise really. She needs to be able to accept outside legal help. Next week should be interesting.

Goodling resigns - hmmmm

I just posted on this at my local West Michigan Politics blog. I think Ehlers is trying to throw Gonzalez overboard because he's liable to be found to have been the one who pushed to get Chiara fired. He's very protective of his local financial backers and political friends so I doubt he's doing what's right. More likely he knows there's a smoking gun with his fingerprints on it and he's trying to find a fall guy.

The Chiara case was the dog that didn't bark during the Senate questioning of Kyle Sampson, with all the focus on Lam, Iglesias and Cummins.

And while MB Williams is the go-to on this, I do wonder about a Grand Unifying Theory that brings in all sorts of futzing w/r/t Native American issues. The South Dakota succession was supposedly the trigger for the sneaky amendment, and I remember that charges of voter fraud on reservations were waved around during Tim Johnson's election.

South Dakota is about much more than voting rights. It is about the Black Hills. The case was in Indian Claims Court for decades, and the Sioux won, but they won't accept a financial settlement. They want the Black Hills back or at least a significant part of them. They don't want payment for the gold, they want the actual gold. Any USA in South Dakota gets this whopper of a case!!!

And there is the Cobell case. That's the class action suit by Individual Indian Trust Account holders against the Dept. of Interior and BIA. The monies in the accounts come from royalties paid by oil, gas, mining, forestry, ranching, farming and other industries/individuals who lease land owned by individual Indians... not tribal lands. The lawsuit is looking for a complete accounting of all IITAs, and to be compensated for money and interest never received because of mismanagement and/or corruption.

The WH didn't send [would let?] Gonzales testify before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee last Thursday. A couple of years ago, AG told Congress the Trust lawsuits were worth $200 billion. Now the government is offering a settlement of $7 billion. As you can imagine, the plaintiffs have rejected this as a bad faith offer.

I found something interesting about this at Indianz.com:

But the Department of Justice official who will testify is also under fire for his role in the firings of several U.S. Attorneys. William M. Mercer, the acting associate attorney general, is slated to present the administration's $7 billion trust proposal to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee tomorrow.

As a top political appointee, Mercer repeatedly comes up in over 3,000 pages of e-mails and documents that have been made public. His involvement has put his nomination as the number three at DOJ on hold pending as Congress looks into the prosecutor firings.


Despite his high-ranking position, Mercer hasn't been directly involved in the Cobell case or any of the tribal trust fund cases. However, he sits on DOJ's Native American Issues subcommittee [NAIS] and at one point was asked to consider running the panel by Kyle Sampson, a former Gonzales aide who resigned as the U.S. Attorney scandal unfolded.

I found a webcast of the hearing if anyone's interested. Sen. Dorgan chairs it.

I don't know if any of this figures in to the USA story, but the firings of so many USAs on the NAIS makes me wonder. And there's always Abramoff. So much corruption to cover up. I don't know how they get anything done. Sorry for the long post. Boiled it down as best I could.

Very helpful, thanks Irene.

Great Post and very interesting comments!

Sara, I hope you will find time to blog at least some of the stories about the the Heffelfinger family. I very much enjoy reading your posts!

p i n and irene

I agree the Indian Reservations are part of this (and possibly a key thing with Chiara--the Pete Secchia Pol Watcher mentions is very very deep into casinos. Throw in the settlement, the coincidental plea deal with Griles (I cannot believe they aren't requiring him to cooperate with the GJ) happening at the same time as this broke. And I can't help but think that the Native American stuff is one key--if not the key factor.

Now we just have to convince Mary Beth to continue blogging long enough to crack this.

Oh yea, I should have added one more little factlet to the post about the Sioux claim to recover the Black Hills. The principle Gold Mining operation in the hills, just closed in the last year or so, is the Homestake at Deadwood. Now who precisely would own Homestake -- well it is owned by Carlyle. Just imagine the consequences if any Court were to rule Homestake had to return the Gold to the Sioux?????

Just another little factlet.

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