Thursday, May 31, 2007

US Attorney Scandal Comes to Big Lake, Minnesota

This is cross-posted at Dump Mark Olson

Tom Hamburger of the LA Times reveals "part of the reason" why Tom Heffelfinger ended up on the DOJ's list of US Attorneys to be fired:

But newly obtained documents and interviews suggest that what displeased some of his superiors and GOP politicians was narrower and more politically charged -- his actions on Indian voting.

... in particular:

Described as a matter of "deep concern" to Heffelfinger, the issue arose from Kiffmeyer's directive in the fall of 2004 that tribal ID cards could not be used for voter identification off reservations

Kiffmeyer is now involved in a national scandal. If Kiffmeyer ran in a special election, it is likely that she would have to answer questions about her involvement in the GOP's campaign to disenfranchise minority voters.

If Mary Kiffmeyer cannot run for office because of her role in the US Attorney scandal, that may explain why the MN GOP 6CD Chair has gone from "no comment" on Rep Mark Olson to whitewashing Olson's Wikipedia page. Olson's trial for domestic assault is scheduled for June 7th (Correction: Rep. Mark Olson's Trial is Monday, June 4th)

Olson may have his own connection to the US Attorney scandal. Olson worked closely with Gary Dean Zimmermann promoting PRT legislation at the Capitol and at Minneapolis City Hall. It's very likely that e-mails to and from Olson and other GOP politicos turned up on Zimmermann's computer which was seized in a raid on Zimmermann's house only four months before Heffelfinger announced he was going to resign.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

David Strom and Katherine Kersten Whine About Rachel Paulose

Katherine Kersten was invited on David Strom's Taxpayer League radio show Tuesday, May 29th to talk about Rachel Paulose and the U.S. Attorney scandal.

There's no mention of the AUSA's at the Minnesota U.S. Attorney's office who demoted themselves in protest of Paulose's lack of management skills.

Here's an excerpt of the interview:

Hear the entire podcast HERE.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Timeline Update--Heffelfinger Cancelled Press Conference on Zimmermann

According to then Fifth Congressional District Green Party chair Steven Eisenmenger:

Eisenmenger said two members of the Zimmermann campaign were subpoenaed to testify Monday before a Hennepin County grand jury, but were told Friday their appearances had been cancelled. He also questioned why U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger cancelled a Friday press conference where he was to release a statement on the case. “He should hand down an indictment or close the investigation,” Eisenmenger said. “It’s well within a citizen’s right to make this reasonable request in asking for that.”

Why did Heffelfinger cancel his press conference?

Did the raid on Zimmermann's house yield information that complicated the investigation?

Were there any e-mails to prominent Republicans on Zimmermann's hard drive that could have gotten Heffelfinger into trouble with loyal Bushie Monica "Buzzsaw" Goodling?

Did Republicans Fund MN Green Party Senate Candidate in 2002?

From a comment on TPM Muckraker:

The third issue is much less direct -- it was about Rove pushing money through Norm Coleman's campaign in 2002 to support the Green Party Native American Candidate in the Wellstone-Coleman race in 2002. (The Greens ultimately settled this by defeating their own candidate in the September 2002 primary). But it was hot news in the summer of 2002 that Rove was spending money through Coleman to support someone who might fool progressives, and take votes away from Wellstone. At the time it was a big issue, Heffelfinger did comment that he might investigate the matter of Coleman's campaign funds being used for two candidates and two parties -- but it never went beyond that. Again, that probably alienated Rove who was shoveling in the campaign cash.


I never heard that Republicans were funding Ed "Eagle Man" McGaa or that Tom Heffelfinger said anything about it... but, it would make sense in light of what was revealed during the Zimmermann trial.

For me and other former Greens, Ed McGaa's endorsement was when we realized that something was terribly wrong with the MN Green Party:

But my dissatisfaction with the Greens grew. The watershed moment, in retrospect, was the Green Party convention in 2002 where the party nominated Ed McGaa when clearly he had no credentials as a Green Party member or a Senate candidate. We know how that story turned out. The Green's gubernatorial candidate, Ken Pentel, had to publicly pull his support from McGaa when the truth came out about McGaa's "green" philosophy, which included burying toxic sludge on his home reservation for a price.

... and Zimmermann supported McGaa...

But Dean Zimmermann, 6th Ward Minneapolis City Council member and a Green Party member, said that Wellstone is responsible for collecting his votes, not the Green Party.

"They can't take votes away from (Wellstone) ... They're not his votes," Zimmermann said.

So, were the Republicans paying MN Green Party candidates back in 2002? It wouldn't surprise me... here's a few examples from that era of Republicans shoveling money at Green Party candidates:

Republican Offers $100K Bribe to NM Greens - Was It Tom Delay?

Green Party Candidate Finds He's a Republican Pawn 

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Paulose Puzzle - Three Timelines Offer Clues

Why did former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger resign and why did Rachel Paulose replace him?

Although Heffelfinger insists he left voluntarily, it seems very likely he jumped before he was pushed.

We know the assistant U.S. attorneys he left behind are very unhappy working for Paulose. But, with the exception of a recent open letter complaining about Paulose, they haven't given the media any clues why Heffelfinger was removed and replaced with the boss from hell.

In every mystery, there's a motive.

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate explains the reason for what happened in U.S. Attorney offices across the country:

There is only one narrative that works with the facts. The White House wanted party loyalists placed in either key battleground states, or in states where Republicans were being investigated or they thought Democrats should have been.

If that's so, Heffelfinger should have been popular at the White House, because he successfully prosecuted Democrats such as former Minneapolis City Council members Brian Heron, Joe Biernat, and Loren Jennings, a former state representative.

With that motive in mind, let's take a look at some timelines and see if they point to an answer.

Ed Felein, the editor and publisher of Pulse of the Twin Cities published a timeline in his publication PULSE last week:

Sept. 16, 2005--"What did Dean do wrong?" by Ed Felien. Analysis of the "case" against [then] Minneapolis Council Member Dean Zimmerman.

Aug. 16, 2006--In the wake of "Zimmergate," commentator David Tilsen discusses how he believes former City Council Member Dean Zimmerman was set up, and Tilsen gives advice to anti-establishment leaders.

Zimmermann was anything but anti-establishment. Zimmermann was a one-stop-shop for political favors and corruption in Minneapolis.

Ed Felein is Zimmermann's friend and one of the few people in this town besides David Tilsen who defended Zimmermann in print after his conviction. For Felein and Tilsen, Heffelfinger is the villain. That is probably why the Pulse has ignored the scandal surrounding Paulose.

Another of Zimmermann's friends and supporters is Charley Underwood, the head of the DFL Progressive Caucus and a blogger at Mn Blue. Underwood, who has attacked Rep. Keith Ellison for what he perceives as a betrayal of the anti-war movement, has forgiven his friend Zimmmermann of any wrongdoing.

For Felein, Tilsen and Underwood, Heffelfinger, is the bad guy; a Bush appointee that investigated and indicted Zimmermann, their friend.

Eric Pusey at Mn Blue has posted a timeline of the U.S. Attorney scandal that avoids mentioning Heffelfinger's prosecution of Zimmermann.

One of the facts that Pusey states as reason for Heffelfinger's dismissal is that he was a "moderate".

But if Heffelfinger was a moderate, that would make him one of the good guys, right? Hefelfinger wasn't a "loyal Bushie" like Paulose. This is what Pusey thinks his timeline proves:

It's clear that Heffelfinger would not cooperate in 2008 when the Bush Administration would want some voter suppression to occur in urban, minority areas ... areas that would likely vote against Norm. The Bush Administration considers Minnesota a key battleground state. Hell, they're holding their convention here to help out Norm Coleman in his reelection bid. Rachel Paulose, a trusted neo-con, will do the Bush Administration's bidding unquestioningly, whatever it happens to be.

Pusey could be right. It's also possible that Heffelfinger's dismissal had something to do with the Abramoff scandal.

But, Zimmmermann's reported ties to at least two prominent Republican donors (and politicians) and his possible ties to others suggests that Heffelfinger chose to leave rather than face Monica Goodling's buzzsaw during the crucial 2006 election year.

What did the FBI find in the raid on Zimmemrmann's house in September of 2005?

Did they find e-mails to and from Republican donors and politicians on Zimmermann's hard drive?

Why won't Rachel Paulose release the FBI tapes shown in open court of Zimmermann accepting bribes from Gary Carlson? Is it because Carlson held a fundraiser for Senator Norm Coleman?

Read the Minneapolis Confidential Mn DOJ timeline and see what you think.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Heffelfinger, Paulose Minnesota U.S. Attorney Timeline

Heffelfinger, Paulose Minnesota U.S. Attorney Timeline

(With special attention to Minneapolis public corruption investigations)

September 1991: April 1993: Thomas B. Heffelfinger's first term as United States Attorney, District of Minnesota (appointed by President George H. W. Bush).

July 17, 2001: Minneapolis city council members Brian Herron indicted (taped by FBI accepting $10,000 bribe). Herron pleaded guilty and resigned.

September 2001: Tom Heffelfinger appointed by President George W. Bush to a second term as US Attorney for the District of Minnesota.

Nov. 7, 2001: R.T. Rybak and Zimmermann elected. Rybak campaigned with a gigantic green air freshener stating how city hall needed to have its air freshened with reform and a return to ethical standards of practice by its elected officials.

November 21, 2002: Councilman Joe Biernat convicted of five felony charges related to allegations he received free plumbing work in exchange for a vote.

September 9, 2004: Mayor RT Rybak casts his only veto in favor a Basim Sabri's development. Zimmermann also supports Basim Sabri's project.

December 2005: Basim Sabri convicted of three counts of bribery for trying to pay former City Council Member Brian Herron to help him with a controversial project on Lake Street.

May 18, 2005: FBI agents meet with a cooperating witness (Gary Carlson) about Zimmermann.

May ? 2005: In an FBI tape, Carlson mentioned he had recently had a fundraiser for Norm Coleman at his house; Zimmermann chided Carlson for not inviting him. Carlson replied by saying he didn't think Zimmermann [as a Green] would want to attend a Republican fundraiser.

Zimmermann responded by saying, "Liberals, Greens, Democrats, Republicans…it's all money."

August 31, 2005: Zimmermann meets with Carlson at his home. Zimmermann receives an envelope that contains $1000 in the form of 10 $100 bills, given to Carlson by the FBI. Zimmermann asks Carlson to contribute money to another Green candidate, Dave Bicking. Zimmermann also boasts of having forced a primary with a "straw man".

September 9, 2005: FBI agents confront Zimmermann with video and audio evidence of bribery. Zimmemrmnann lies and refuses to admit wrongdoing. Zimmermann's house searched. Investigation announced.

September 11, 2005: Fifth Congressional District Green Party chair Steven Eisenmenger) claims USA Tom Heffelfinger canceled press conference:

Eisenmenger said two members of the Zimmermann campaign were subpoenaed to testify Monday before a Hennepin County grand jury, but were told Friday their appearances had been cancelled. He also questioned why U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger cancelled a Friday press conference where he was to release a statement on the case.

Jan. 9, 2006: Kyle Sampson memo to White House Counsel Harriet Miers: proposed working with "targeted U.S. Attorneys to encourage them to leave government service voluntarily; this would allow (them) to make arrangements for work in the private sector and `save face' regarding the reason for leaving office, both in the Department of Justice and in their local legal communities." (Nick Coleman, Star Tribune 4/1/07)

January 18, 2006: Former city councilman Dean Zimmermann indicted.

Feb. 14, 2006: Tom Heffelfinger, announced his resignation (effective Feb. 28, 2006).

Feb. 17, 2006: Paulose was named to be the interim US Attorney.

April 14th, 2006 memo from Kyle Sampson states, "Also, I would note that two on my original list have already resigned" (presumably Heffelfinger and Graves).

August 10, 2006: Zimmermann convicted on 3 counts of accepting cash.

November 7, 2006: DFL candidate for Rebecca Otto claims she was the victim of Green Party dirty tricks in this You Tube video.

December 9, 2006: Rachel Paulose confirmed by unanimous consent in the Senate's last act of the session at 3:00 a.m (Saturday morning)

December 19, 2006: Former Minneapolis Councilman Zimmermann Sentenced to Federal Prison.

March 9, 2007: Rachel Paulose Sworn in as US Attorney fo the District of MInnesota at ceremony at Saint Thomas. - Thomas Heffelfinger, was not invited (Nick Coleman, Star Tribune 4/1/07)

March 21, 2007: City Pages article on flawed research that claimed Mayor Rybak was investigated by Heffelfinger--Heffelfinger says, he cannot comment on investigations that did not result in charges. But it doesn't take a scholar to read between the lines: "Rybak should be pissed off," Heffelfinger says. "That's irresponsible for someone to publish something like that."

April 5, 2007: "...three of her top administrators — First Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marti, second in command; civil division head Erika Monzangue and criminal division head James Lackner — voluntarily resigned those positions, reverting to simple assistant U.S. attorney status, reportedly in protest over Paulose's management style. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, she was noted for dressing down underlings and quoting Bible verses on the job.

April 7, 2007: Pioneer Press reporter, Ruben Rosario complains that Rachel Paulose doesn't release information... even about "Cubby the Bear" to the press.

On April 17th: The AP reported that Ms. Paulose had been contacted for voluntary questioning by the US House Judiciary Committee in relation to the "firings of 8 U.S. federal prosecutors"

****Zimmermann Trial Facts****

*Gary Dean Zimmermann had a court-appointed attorney.

*Gary Dean Zimmermann still owns property worth $794,500 (according to City records).

*A Star Tribune editorial recommended that Zimmermann receive no jail time.

****More Reference****

TPM US Attorney Scandal Timeline:

KSTP Coverage of the US Attorney scandal.

FBI Search Affidavit (PDF).

Best & Flannagan Heffelfinger resume.

Zimmermann's sorry environmental record in office.

MnBlue Blog's timeline.