by Max Brantley
Republican congressional candidate Tim Griffin seems to be getting away in some media quarters with his disingenuous suggestion that his voter caging work for Bush in 2004 in Florida was just a good-faith effort to root out fraudulent efforts to sign up new voters.
The scheme has been well documented. It resulted in removal of, among others, enlisted black service men from voting rolls because they happened to be serving overseas when misleading mail arrived at their homes from the Republican Party. Failure to return the mail led to voter registration challenges concentrated in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods.
Slate magazine discussed this at some length when the U.S. attorney scandal broke and Griffin's caging activities arose. It smelled a rat.
From the point of view of the ongoing DoJ scandal, perhaps what's most urgent about the vote-caging claims is that they go a long, long way toward explaining why Karl Rove and Harriet Miers were so determined to get Griffin seated in the Arkansas U.S. Attorney's office, and to do so without a confirmation hearing. If, as the Justice Department has continued to insist, Griffin was eminently qualified for the position, why did he need to be spared the hearing at all costs? And once it became clear that he would undergo a hearing, why did Griffin sideline himself with the colorful observation that undergoing Senate confirmation would be "like volunteering to stand in front of a firing squad in the middle of a three-ring circus?" Griffin—who is now in job talks with the Fred Thompson campaign—sure looks like a guy hiding something, and if vote caging is that something, it becomes even more interesting that the White House was pushing him forward.
Beat up ACORN all you want (though no voter registration fraud was ever uncovered, only bogus signups by paid gatherers whose names didn't make voter rolls). Just don't confuse it with what Tim Griffin was up to in Florida. That scheme was unrelated and, ultimately, more damaging to the integrity of the vote.