federal prosecutors

Something of an Obvious Question

Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 6, "An Aroma Sweet, a Heart Bitter...".

There is, of course, much we might say of an eighteen-year sentence for methamphetamine trafficking handed down in the case of a disgraced Montana Republican leader, but the report from Associated Press, and the federal judge who gave the sentence, note an important question:

Michael Lange, the Republican House majority leader during the 2007 Legislature, arranged deliveries of at least 20 and possibly up to 50 pounds (nine and possibly up to 23 kilograms) of meth from a source in California over a seven-month period in 2016, prosecutors said. It was sold through a network of approximately 15 to 20 dealers in Montana and Wyoming, according to federal prosecutors and an FBI drug task-force officer.

Lange pleaded guilty in September to drug conspiracy and distribution charges. He apologized at his sentencing but drew a sharp rebuke from U.S. District Judge Susan Watters after Lange appeared to minimize his involvement in the trafficking ring and claimed the truth of what happened had never been revealed.

“You don’t get it, Mr. Lange,” Watters said. “For you to tell me in your letter of acceptance that it was never your intention for this methamphetamine to get out into the community is completely incredible to me. … What did you think was going to happen?”

There is a lot of never-meant in the world, and, to be certain, any number of points we might raise in the question of who never meant which and what that is worth in jurisprudence; but it is very nearly instinct that revolts, because every now and then, at least, we find ourselves wondering what other outcome one might have expected or intended.

Or, try it this way …—

Actually, no, don’t. Fifty pounds of meth? Oh, fine, let’s go with twenty, then, because even still. What attorney gave this client what advice?

____________________

Image note: Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 6, “An Aroma Sweet, a Heart Bitter…”.

Brown, Matthew. “Former Montana lawmaker gets 18 years for drug trafficking”. Associated Press. 17 January 2018.

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Inward Focus (Split Canyon Distraction Mix)

[#resist]

Protesters demonstrate on 16 September 2017 in Tunis against parliament passing an amnesty law for officials accused of corruption under toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. (Photo: Agence France-Presse)

There is nearly a joke waiting here—

Hundreds of Tunisians protested on Saturday in the streets of the capital against a widely contested new law that grants officials from the former regime involved in corruption amnesty from prosecution.

Tunisia’s parliament on Wednesday approved a law protecting officials accused of graft during the rule of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, triggering angry protests by the opposition and activists.

Waving flags and banners saying “No to forgiveness”, “Resisting against mafia rule”, around 1,500 people marched through the capital’s central Avenue Habib Bourguiba in the company of opposition leaders.

After months of protests, the law was amended from an original draft which would have also granted amnesty to corrupt businessmen. Now they will be liable to prosecution for crimes committed during Ben Ali’s 24-year rule.

(Reuters)

—because it should not be quite so easy for Americans to empathize so proximally.    (more…)

Kansas, Like Only Kansas Can Do

In this May 3, 2010 photo, attorney Kris Kobach poses for a photo in Kansas City, Mo. When politicians and police across the county want to crack down on illegal immigration, they often reach out to Kobach, a little-known Kansas attorney with an Ivy League education who is the architect behind many of the nation's most controversial immigration laws. Kobach helps draft proposed laws and, after they are adopted, trains officers to enforce them. If the laws are challenged, he goes to court to defend them. His most recent project was advising Arizona officials on a new law that empowers police to question anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Do we really have to re-introduce the one and only Kris Kobach? You know, the Kansas Secretary of State who consults around the country on development of anti-immigration and vote-fraud laws? The Birther who threatened to keep President Obama off the 2012 ballot in the Sunflower State?

Right. That one.

During last year’s election, the Kansas Secretary of State chastised U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, complaining to the media that Kobach’s office had referred examples of voter fraud to the Kansas-based federal prosecutor, but Grissom has refused to prosecute. Worse, Kobach said the U.S. Attorney didn’t “know what he’s talking about” when Grissom said voter fraud doesn’t exist in Kansas.

The AP reports today that when Kobach made these claims, he appears to have been brazenly lying (thanks to my colleague Tricia McKinney for the heads-up).

[I]n a Nov. 6 letter sent from Grissom to Kobach and obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request, the prosecutor responded that his office received no such referrals from Kobach, and chided the secretary of state for his statements.

“Going forward, if your office determines there has been an act of voter fraud please forward the matter to me for investigation and prosecution,” Grissom wrote. “Until then, so we can avoid misstatements of facts for the future, for the record, we have received no voter fraud cases from your office in over four and a half years. And, I can assure you, I do know what I’m talking about.”

Wait, it gets worse.

Kobach now concedes that when he said he’d referred voter-fraud cases to the U.S. Attorney’s office, he had not, in reality, referred voter-fraud cases to the U.S. Attorney’s office. But, the right-wing official told the AP, Kobach’s predecessor had alerted the federal prosecutor to two relevant cases and Grissom ignored those referrals.

It turns out, that’s not true, either: federal investigators looked into those 2011 allegations and, as the AP report noted, they concluded they were not voter fraud.

Or so explains the inimitable Steve Benen, whose narrative is as compelling as always. It is drawn from an Associated Press article, which for its own part explains:

Grissom told the AP last week that Kobach never replied to his letter.

“We want to uphold the integrity of the voting system and people’s ability to exercise their right and have their voice heard as part of the process,” Grissom said. “And we have the ability, we have the resources, to prosecute any case in which someone believes there has been any voter fraud or voter misrepresentation.”

Kobach acknowledged in an email to the AP last week that his office never has sent suspected voter fraud cases to Grissom, citing instead what he said was inaction on cases referred by his predecessor.

Grissom said the FBI determined two cases referred before Kobach took office in January 2011 were not voter fraud.

Kobach said last week that his office “felt it would be more productive to refer cases first to Kansas county attorneys rather than sending them first to Mr. Grissom’s office.”

“That is the approach we have taken for the last few years,” he said.

(more…)