Wednesday, May 9, 2007

One of Senator Bond’s Staffers Wanted Graves Gone…

A new twist to the U.S. Attorney scandal, specifically as the light of scrutiny shines on the Kansas City office, involves Senator Kit Bond’s office.

Senator Bond’s office revealed yesterday that Jack Bartling, former counsel to Senator Bond, had targeted Todd Graves for replacement in 2005, even contacting the White House counsels office to express this desire.

Problem is, the Senator wasn’t told a damned thing about it.

A spokeswoman for Bond said yesterday that the senator's former counsel, Jack Bartling, contacted the White House counsel's office in the spring of 2005, without Bond's permission. According to the spokeswoman, Bartling said that Graves's replacement "would be favored," because the prosecutor's wife and brother-in-law had stirred ethics complaints in Missouri.

Graves’ name later appeared on the original list of attorneys whose ouster was sought but who were not any of the eight forced out in the Purge. Two of the three whose names have been redacted had left of their own volition. Graves was one of the two.

Bond's communications director, Shana Marchio, said that, around the time Graves resigned, administration officials told the senator's staff that Bartling's prodding did not prompt the prosecutor's departure but that they had "their own reasons" for wanting him removed. Marchio said they did not specify the reasons.

Last night, Graves issued a statement that said: "This would be humorous if we were not talking about the United States Department of Justice. First, you tell me that DOJ staffers were making secret hit lists and my name was on one of them. Then, you tell me that a staffer for Missouri's senior senator had a hit list so secret that not even the senator knew about it."

Mr. Graves – if anyone had told me four years ago that I would be defending you, and missing John Ashcroft – I would have started the process for their involuntary commitment. But Ben Franklin summed up my sentiments nicely… For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.

I think this mess qualifies.

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