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Is Privacy Act Violated as Voting War’s GOP Hit Man is Fed Leaks By Justice Department Mole?

Will the DOJ investigate leaks in attacks on Voting Section employees and major voting rights decisions?

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“A career employee in the Voting Section… has confessed to committing perjury, sources say,” is how von Spakovsky’s latest attack begins. “And who was the civil rights analyst whose name was on the “rambling, barely coherent memo” leaked to the Washington Post ?” He answers his own question, not just naming the analyst and attacking their job performance and political beliefs, but he also refers to an Inspector General investigation, interviews, and evidence, such as e-mails, to claim there was a “cover up” of the alleged perjury.

“For the Voting Section chief to assign this admitted perjurer to review Texas’s 2011 decennial redistricting submission is a serious affront to justice,” he writes. “It should greatly concern Texas authorities, who have a right to expect an objective, impartial, nonpolitical and non-ideological review of their plan.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is slated to review aspects of the DOJ’s Texas redistricting case in early January, just as the case is also making its way through the federal courts. Many political observers have said that the outcome of redistricting in Texas and Florida will determine which party is likely to control the House of Representatives after 2012.

The Pattern: Narrow Attacks, Broad Smears

Von Spakovsky’s latest missive has been part of an ongoing pattern where he assails individuals working inside Justice to serve his larger goal of damaging the Department during a Democratic Administration.

In January 2011, writing in the online National Review , he attacked the new head of the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility not merely as “a highly political person who… made no effort to hide her contempt for President Bush,” but, again citing leaked documents, said that she secretly rifled through colleagues’ desks and files when the House Judiciary Committee was investigating the Bush Administration’s firing of nine U.S. attorneys for failure to pursue voter fraud cases.

The new OPR head was found to be “completely untrustworthy,” he wrote, citing confidential DOJ sources, and “someone who treated subordinates like chattel.” He concluded, “This sounds more like the behavior of a less-than-stellar high school student than that of a DOJ lawyer.”

But it is von Spakovsky who sounds like a high school student, if not a high school bully. And there are questions whether he is fabricating personal details in his abusive attacks. For example, the analyst at the center of his latest screed over Texas apparently did not work on the same floor as him—raising questions about his sources and his account’s truthfulness.

What von Spakovsky may not realize while plying his attacks is that his admission may trigger a DOJ investigation into his source or sources. To begin with, every attorney who is hired by the Department must agree to abide by the federal regulations concerning confidentiality surrounding their work at the agency. Moreover, the Privacy Act also seeks to protect individuals from government leaks.

The Privacy Act

The Privacy Act governs how federal agencies acquire, maintain and control records containing information about individuals. The Act requires that agencies maintain control over confidential materials, monitor and track disclosures, and discusses the “adverse effects” that unauthorized leaks can bring. It discusses injuries such as intentional embarrassment and humiliation and offers legal remedies to victims.

Whether the Department will investigate these latest leaks is unknown, as they are recent and the DOJ almost never comments on matters such as Inspector General investigations. Nor is it known whether von Spakovsky would cooperate in any inquiry by the DOJ—despite his professed fealty for the Department’s honor.  

This latest tirade would barely pass as political inside ball on the conservative fringe were it not for the stakes, as the Voting Section is not only involved in redistricting litigation in Texas and other states, notably Florida, but as it is poised to decide if new voting laws in Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama can be implemented in 2012.