The Justice Department will appeal the dismissal of the lawsuit it filed against Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. A federal district judge has thrown out the suit, which charged Carnahan had not done a good enough job getting unqualified voters off the registration lists. Carnahan calls the continued pursuit of the lawsuit "unnecessary."
The lawsuit has become part of the investigation in Washington into allegations the Bush administration Justice Department has politicized some federal prosecutor offices.
The Justice Department filed the suit although then-U. S. Attorney Todd Graves refused to support it.
Graves has told the Senate Judiciary Committee he refused to sign a letter the Justice Department wanted to send to Missouri officials, threatening the suit. He says he thought it was a "bad idea" that was being rushed by the Department of Justice. Judiciary Committee member Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island says Graves’ lack of support for the action should have been a red flag for the department.
Graves says his replacement as western Missouri U-S Attorney, Bradley Schlozman, did sign the letter. Graves was replaced by Schlozman, who had headed the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.
Graves and Schlozman had crossed paths earlier when Graves was trying to get civil penalties imposed on a convicted cross-burner and the Department of Justice wanted him to drop that effort. The department sent in Schlozman as a mediator but Graves refused to back down and the civil settlement he favored was approved.
Graves has told the committee he does not know if his position in that case and his refusal to sign on to the suit against Carnahan led to his forced resignation—which he says he did not resist because he had let it be known he was going to leave in 2006 anyway. He says he got a call from the department’s coordinator of U. S. Attorneys late in 2005 saying the department had decided somebody else should have the job. Within weeks, Graves—a former county prosecutor—was replaced by Schlozman, who has admitted to the committee he had "zero" experience in trying criminal cases.