Remember when Democrats screeched about the politicization at the Department of Justice when George Bush replaced nine at-will political appointees? I’ve written that AG nominee Eric Holder’s work at Justice in the Clinton administration demonstrated a lot more political hackery than anything seen under Bush, and apparently that won’t be the end of politicization at Justice under Barack Obama, either. Chris Cillizza notes that Matthew Miller has taken the job of spokesperson for the DoJ despite his past history of politicizing an actual investigation:
Matthew Miller, who spearheaded the communications operation at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee during the 2008 election, is moving inside the walls of the Obama administration as chief spokesman for the Justice Department. With Eric H. Holder Jr. expected to be confirmed as attorney general this week, Miller will be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. He’s had good practice. Before working under Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the DSCC, Miller was communications director for the successful 2006 Senate campaign of Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
If you don’t remember Matthew Miller, it’s a shame — because he played a central role in a scandal that helped put Republicans in the minority in 2006. Miller got the e-mails between disgraced Congressman Mark Foley and underaged interns, but instead of giving them to investigators, Miller instead tried giving them to reporters in Florida, Foley’s home state. When that apparently didn’t work, Miller turned the material over to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The Washington Post reported after the election:
Democratic Caucus communications director Matt Miller saw the e-mails as inappropriate, but rather than taking them to authorities, he shopped them to the press, first to the Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg Times that November, then to the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. He also gave the e-mails to the communications director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a point apparently validating Republican charges that senior Democrats were behind the revelation of Foley’s conduct.
Republicans objected to the handling of the e-mails and accused Miller of politicizing Foley’s conduct rather than ensuring that the House interns were safe from any potential predatory conduct. In fact, a familiar name headed the DCCC and knew about the e-mails long before the Ethics Committee was apprised of their existence:
The head of the House Democrats’ campaign committee, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, had heard of former Rep. Mark Foley’s inappropriate e-mails to a former male page a year before they became public, a campaign committee aide told CNN. …
In his deposition to the ethics committee, Miller said he also sent Foley’s e-mails to the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, the Miami Herald and Roll Call, according to the report.
Miller also sent the material to Harper’s Magazine “and possibly others,” the report said.
Miller told the ethics committee he had sent the e-mails to the media because he considered them inappropriate and predicted “nothing would come” from giving them to the ethics panel or the House Page Board, according to the report.
Barack Obama scolded the Bush administration for its supposed politicization of Justice back in March 2007, saying on NBC’s Today Show:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has had a tendency to inject politics into decision-making that should be guided by the public interest. He is close to the president and he considers himself the president’s lawyer as opposed to the people’s lawyer. I don’t think that’s an appropriate way to think about the office of attorney general. … I think what it says is that we are seeing a continuing process of politicization and a lack of accountability that has been the hallmark of many of this administration’s actions. And it’s that sort of approach to government that sees this as a perpetual campaign as opposed to a mechanism to actually get things done on behalf of the American people that I think are of deep concern.
Matthew Miller had evidence of possible pederastic predatory behavior, and instead of acting to protect the interns, he tried to make political hay out of the e-mails. I guess he’ll fit right in at a Holder-led Department of Justice. Will that be normal procedure for investigating potential crimes at the Obama DoJ?
Update: I had the a photo of Matthew Miller the journalist, not Matthew Miller the spokesperson. I’ve replaced it with a pic of Eric Holder. My apologies to both Matthew Millers on the photo mixup.