Jen Rubin first reported here and here on the existence of a letter written by former DOJ attorney and New Black Panther trial team leader Chris Coates to a Justice Department official documenting his concerns about unequal enforcement of voting rights laws. Now, Rubin tells us, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission wants that document. In a letter, a draft of which was obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD, the commissioners ask Attorney General Eric Holder to produce documents which would shed light on the testimony of civil rights head Thomas Perez, which we now know is misleading. (This, too, was revealed in THE WEEKLY STANDARD's June 21 story.) The commissioners explain:
On September 24, 2010, former Voting Section Chief Christopher Coates testified that he participated in this meeting by phone and that he informed Mr. Perez that the New Black Panther Party lawsuit was effectively dismissed because of hostility to the race-neutral enforcement of the voting laws. The day after that briefing, May 14, 2010, Mr. Perez testified in response to a question about the possibility that individuals in the Civil Rights Division harbored such views that “We don’t have people that are of that ilk” in the Division.
The Commission is understandably interested in why Perez neglected to disclose the information he had learned from Coates the previous day regarding “people [who might be] of that ilk.”
The commissioners then demand documents prepared by former DOJ lawyer Christian Adams as well as "writings or emails Mr. Coates prepared about the New Black Panther Party litigation or hostility to the race-neutral enforcement of the voting laws in the month preceding Mr. Perez’s testimony, particularly one on or about April 26, 2010."
Rubin also tells us that the commission, in a separate letter to Holder, urges him to waive any purported privileges so the commission can investigate some of the case's more explosive charges:
Coates and Adams testified that the hostility within CRD to bringing particular cases involving black defendants is symptomatic of deep-seated—and shockingly common—attitudes favoring racially-selective enforcement of the law. Although Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez has refused to admit, deny or explain the specific allegations of harassment and intimidation, the troubling statements by supervising attorneys, or the race-based instructions that were allegedly issued by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes, we urge you to order full cooperation with our investigation and allow the Commission to finish its job.
The letters are to be voted on and should go out this week according to sources. Don't expect Holder to allow his attorneys to testify freely or to give up incriminating documents. But when Republican chairmen take their seats in January the commission's letters could serve, Rubin says, "as a handy guide to drafting subpoenas."