The head of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section pushed back against accusations that the disclosure of a federal investigation related to gambling legislation in Alabama was intended to influence an upcoming vote.
“Our actions were neither designed nor intended to cause a particular result with respect to any piece legislation,” Raymond Hulser, acting chief of the section, wrote in an April 5 letter to the state legislature’s Democratic Party caucus.
Justice Department prosecutors met with state lawmakers on April 1 to brief them on a criminal probe of electronic bingo proponents’ quest for votes in support of legislation, which would create a referendum on amending the state constitution to legalize the machines.
The Birmingham News reported Sunday that at least two state lawmakers agreed to wear the wires after going to federal authorities to report offers of large campaign contributions in exchange for their votes in support of the legislation. Republican Gov. Bob Riley has made defeating the amendment a cornerstone of his agenda. The Alabama Senate passed the bill two days before the meeting. The House has yet to vote.
Douglas Jones, a former U.S. Attorney in Birmingham, Ala., representing the Democratic Party caucus in the Alabama Legislature, wrote a letter to Justice Department officials after the meeting, charging that disclosure of the investigation was meant to have a “chilling effect” on members of the state’s House who might have otherwise supported the legislation.
Hulser, in the April 5 response, said the meeting was held because “the leaders of significant government institutions typically find it important and valuable to learn about possible threats to the integrity of their proceedings and the fact that the Department of Justice is conducting an investigation in their institution.”
He said the department reached out to the legislators when it was clear that they would hear of the investigation through other sources.
Jones and his clients were unpersuaded. “Someone involved in this investigation is going to great lengths to deny the people of Alabama the right to vote on this important issue,” the lawyer wrote in an April 9 letter.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama, which is run by Leura Canary, a holdover from the Bush administration, is assisting the Public Integrity Section with the investigation. As Main Justice reported here last week, among the Justice Department lawyers at the meeting was Brenda Morris, who is under investigation for her role as lead prosecutor in the bungled case against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.
A copy of the correspondence between Jones and Hulser is embedded below.
A selection of the transcripts from the Department of Justice’s failed case against Blackwater contractors are below.
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The Justice Department on Thursday published the job announcement for Public Integrity Section chief, touching off a nationwide search for the next leader of the Criminal Division’s corruption-fighting squad.
William Welch II, who had been chief since early 2007, stepped down last Friday. He returned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts, where he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for more than a decade. Raymond Hulser is serving as acting chief of PIN.
Welch is under criminal investigation for his supervisory role in the public corruption case against then-Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). The Justice Department moved to dismiss the case earlier this year, after prosecution errors came to light. Brenda Morris, the former principal deputy chief, moved to Atlanta in September for personal reasons. Morris, who is also under investigation, remains a trial lawyer in the Public Integrity Section.
According to the announcement, the chief’s job fetches between $117,787 and $177,000 a year. The application period closes on Dec. 2.
Here’s the job summary:
The incumbent serves as the Chief of the Public Integrity Section, reporting under the general supervision of the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division and direct supervision of a Deputy Assistant Attorney General. The Chief provides leadership to the section within the Criminal Division that is responsible for overseeing the federal effort to combat abuses of the public trust by government officials.
The Public Integrity Section investigates, and, when warranted, prosecutes, corruption offenses involving public officials at all levels of government, election crimes, and campaign finance offenses. The Section leads the enforcement and regulatory communities in a coordinated, nationwide response to reduce public corruption across the country; develops and supports effective corruption reducing strategies and programs that can be deployed around the country; drives policy, legislative and regulatory reform; provides expert counsel in enforcement matters; and effectively collaborates with the 93 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners. The Section develops law enforcement networks and relationships, and by doing so, leads a dynamic, nationwide process that brings continuous improvement to the integrity of government.