Justice official knew of local ACORN indictments, e-mail shows

A newly-released email shows a top election crimes official with the Department of Justice did not object to a controversial decision to indict four workers who registered voters for ACORN in Kansas City in 2006.

The e-mail -- from Craig Donsanto, then head of the Department's election crimes unit -- was obtained by Prime Buzz through a Freedom of Information Act request filed in March, 2007.

The e-mail provided is actually a chain of messages from local DOJ spokesman Don Ledford, former U.S. Attorney Brad Schlozman, and Donsanto, all related to the Nov. 1, 2006 indictments of four ACORN workers here just one week before the crucial 2006 election.

Democrats have long claimed the ACORN indictments were politically motivated and violated the department's handbook, written by Donsanto, which discourages filing of voter charges close to an election.

But the new e-mail appears to confirm Schlozman's claim that higher-ups at Justice -- including Donsanto -- knew about the indictments and did not object to them.

In June, 2007, Schlozman told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he filed the charges at the "direction" of the election crimes unit of the Public Integrity Section, run by Donsanto. Schlozman later wrote the committee, clarifying that he "consulted" on the filings but was not directed to seek the indictments.

Schlozman issued the clarification, according to reports, because the Public Intergrity Section was "incensed" at being blamed for the indictments.

But the e-mail, written months before that testimony, reflects no anger at Schlozman for seeking the ACORN indicments. To the contrary, Donsanto appears to praise Schlozman for the decision.

The chain begins with a message from Ledford to Schlozman, attaching a Wall Street Journal editorial praising the indictments. The email is dated Nov. 3, a Friday, two days after Ledford and Schlozman announced the indictments and four days before the election.

Schlozman then forwarded the email, with the editorial, to Donsanto: "Craig. I thought this might be of interest to you."

Within the hour, Donsanto responded: "Thank you Brad. It is nice for once to see one's work accurately reflected in an editorial."

The email from Donsanto does not reflect any objection to the indictments, even though, in later accounts, Democrats claimed Donsanto would not have authorized them.

The FOIA request included all documents between Main Justice and Schlozman's office involving voter fraud cases. The Department redacted one memo, in full, from Donsanto to Linda Marshall, an attorney with DOJ here, because it involved "attorney work product."

That memo is dated Nov. 2, 2006, the day after the ACORN indictments.

The ACORN indictments have been controversial for years, even though the defendants were all convicted. Democrats say Schlozman was installed as U.S. Attorney here after former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves showed reluctance to pursue similar voter cases.

The dispute eventually led to the resignation of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.