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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Was Weldon targeted by Karl Rove?

Some interesting details from New Mexico in the Rove investigation:

Wilson pointed to a letter she released in September 2008. The letter, written in response to an inquiry from James Meade in the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), states that her Oct. 15, 2006 e-mail was not related to the U.S. House race but was related to “an FBI inquiry concerning my opponent, Attorney General Patricia Madrid, which occurred while she was running for Congress in 2006.”

The letter states that the FBI asked in June 2006 for information about Madrid’s connection to the political action committee Justice for America. Earlier, Wilson, Domenici and former U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce filed a related complaint with the Federal Election Commission, the letter states.

The letter contains no other details about the probe.

From the Wilson letter to Meade:

“The AP story on October 15, 2006 caught my eye because the FBI, or someone close to the FBI, had leaked information about an investigation of Representative Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania to the media. I believed it was possible we would see a similar leak from law enforcement concerning Mrs. Madrid and that we could be asked by the media to comment on it.

“My staff had contingency press guidance that, if asked, we would confirm that we had received an inquiry from the FBI about Attorney General Madrid and we were cooperating with law enforcement. The recipients of my (Oct. 15, 2006) e-mail knew about the FBI inquiry and the contingency press guidance. This e-mail was intended to be a ‘heads up’ to them. “

The probe of Madrid was not revealed publicly until Wilson’s 2008 letter to Meade was released to the media, but even then the Meade letter was not widely covered by journalists.

In an interview, Madrid said she heard in 2006 from “a number of sources… that the FBI was threatening me.”

“If there was an investigation of me, I’m sure that they were put up to it by Karl Rove, Domenici and Heather Wilson. They instigated all of that,” Madrid said, adding that any allegations made against her were baseless.

“I guarantee you, if the FBI and Iglesias and Karl Rove had had anything on me, they would have used it. They didn’t. They had nothing,” she said.

Some more details:

In October 2006, a month before the midterm elections that cost Republicans control of the Congress, an e-mail chain started by Rep. Heather Wilson, R-New Mexico, faulted Iglesias for not using his office in a manner that would help Wilson in her reelection campaign.

Wilson’s e-mail included a news report about an FBI probe of Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pennsylvania, as an example of criminal investigations proceeding close to election day.

Steve Bell, chief of staff to New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, forwarded the e-mail to Jennings at Rove’s White House shop, with a note, saying it “seems like other U.S. attorneys can do their work even in election season. And the FBI has already admitted they have turned over their evidence [in a federal corruption probe] to the [U.S. Attorney] in [New Mexico] and are merely awaiting his action.”

Jennings then passed along the e-mail to Rove, saying Iglesias was “shy about doing his job on [Patricia] Madrid,” a Democratic congressional candidate who would lose the 2006 election to Wilson by only 800 votes.