Paul Charlton, one of the ousted U.S. attorneys who spoke at the UALR Bowen School of Law this afternoon, had more to say about 2nd Congressional District candidate Tim Griffin's role in the scandal than did Bud Cummins, a lot more. (Though Cummins refusal to say who'll vote for in the 2nd District election spoke eloquently enough.)
If you'll recall and Ernest Dumas wrote in detail about it here The White House engineered Bud Cummins' ouster as U.S. attorney to make way for Griffin, who was a White House political operative. Charlton said Griffin's role in the firing of Bud Cummins was a character issue and that Griffin had somehow managed to escape scrutiny.
"Character matters," Charlton said. "And I don’t think people change over a short period of time. Most people can change their ways over a long period of time and a good bit of reflection, but I think Mr. Griffin is the same person today as he was when he sought the position of U.S. attorney. The true Griffin is the individual we saw reflected in emails he was sending to Karl Rove, for example, saying he would name his first child after Rove if it was a boy, or slandering Bud or crying at the Clinton Library in a talk about Public Service. Those are examples of the individual that now wants to represent Arkansas in Congress."
Read the full telephone Q&A with Charlton on the jump.
I’ve seen the video in which Mr. Griffin wept as he said he no longer felt that public service was worthwhile and it struck me as more than ironic that he was in that state of mind after he had essentially destroyed Bud Cummins’s chance to stay in office as U.S. attorney even though Bud was doing a terrific job. He had slandered Bud while he was a U.S. attorney and used his position with Karl Rove to move Bud out of office. Bud handled it very much like a gentleman and with a great deal of grace and I don’t think I could say the same of Mr. Griffin.
It seems that Griffin’s opponent in the race has been reluctant to really hammer Griffin on his role in the U.S. attorney scandal.
That’s extraordinary because character matters. And I don’t think people change over a short period of time. Most people can change their ways over a long period of time and a good bit of reflection, but I think Mr. Griffin is the same person today as he was when he sought the position of U.S. attorney. The true Griffin is the individual we saw reflected in emails he was sending to Karl Rove, for example, saying he would name his first child after Rove if it was a boy, or slandering Bud or crying at the Clinton Library in a talk about Public Service. Those are examples of the individual that now wants to represent Arkansas in Congress.
So you think it deserves more attention than it has received so far?
It deserves attention. It’s all part of his record. I saw his quote where he said he wants to move forward and that’s good as well, but I think it’s a maxim that makes sense to me that the past is often prologue. It could be true for Mr. Griffin and I think it’s worth voters being aware of that fact.
What about the people who are going to say, ‘This guy’s just trying to smear Griffin,’ or ‘He’s just a liberal with an agenda?’
I’m a registered Republican, have been since I was 18 years of age. I’ll match my conservative credentials against anyone’s. I’m not picking a dog in this congressional race. But I do think that if anybody’s going to consider whether Tim Griffin is the right person to run for this seat, it’s got to involve more than who hates Nancy Pelosi the most. It’s got to be, ‘Who’s the person with the sufficient character.’ And maybe at the end of the day that is Mr. Griffin, but it deserves discussion and examination.
You don’t think this has been sufficiently reported?
I don’t think it has been, at least in the articles that I’ve read and it seems to be batted down pretty quickly with remarks like, ‘I’m focusing on the future.’ That’s a worthwhile response, but I think he ought to sit down and talk about what his role was and what he did and how he justifies that.
In your mind, what were some of Griffin’s most egregious offenses?
I think one of the things that he did was spread the rumors around the White House that Bud Cummins was not a good U.S. attorney. When the inspector general’s report came out and they asked people about the source of that rumor, it all pointed back to Mr. Griffin. He was the sole source of that information. He, for example, lied about the number of trials he had when he was in JAG. I’m a career prosecutor. I think how many prosecutions and felony jury trials you’ve had means something, especially for anyone who wants to take the job of U.S. attorney. If you misrepresent that, then you need to be held to account for that. I think the fact that he was at a mind at one point in time to emotionally claim that he would never be in public service again because it wasn’t worth it, and to now be vigorously running for office, I think that’s worth examination. I don’t know if he was telling the truth then or telling the truth now. That’s an inconsistency that I think ought to be explored.
But in your mind it all comes down to character?
It is absolutely an issue of character.
Background Wikipedia: Paul K. Charlton was one of seven U.S. attorneys dismissed on December 7, 2006 by the Bush administration. Charlton was confirmed as the U.S. Attorney for the United States Attorney's Office District of Arizona on November 6, 2001. Charlton was informed of his dismissal by Justice Department official Michael A. Battle on December 7, 2006, and announced his resignation on December 19, 2006, effective January 31, 2007. Charlton's office had been honored with the Federal Service Award and hailed by the Justice Department as a "model program" for its protection of crime victims. Charlton ranked in the top third among the nation's 93 US attorneys in contributing to an overall 106,188 federal prosecutions filed in 2006; scored in the top third in number of convictions; oversaw a district in the top five highest in number of immigration-related prosecutions; ranked among the top 20 offices for drug prosecutions; and, unlike in the other seven cases, ranked high in weapons cases, prosecuting 199 of the United States' 9,313 such cases in 2006, the tenth-highest in the country and up fourfold from 2002.