The DOJ/GOP connection

As first reported by One Wisconsin Now and touched on by MadCityMan yesterday, records obtained through open records laws show Ray Taffora, the top deputy to Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, sought direction from Ben Cannatti, the political director of the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) prior to Van Hollen’s attempt to join a lawsuit against the federal health care reform act. The RSLC, a 527 political organization based outside of Washington, D.C., is funded in part by health industry corporations and has spent in excess of $57 million to elect Republican candidates since 2002. According to its website, RSLC’s “mission is to elect more Republicans at the state level, including Attorneys General, Lieutenant Governors, Secretaries of State, and State Legislators.”

“This is the $57 million smoking gun,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “JB Van Hollen’s taxpayer-financed office sought out advice from and was being directed in this lawsuit by Republican partisans and the health industry corporate-funded groups that wanted to derail health insurance reform.”

The emails obtained by One Wisconsin now indicate Taffora contacted Cannatti looking for lawsuit information, and that Cannatti suggested Taffora talk to Bryan Stirling, the Deputy Attorney General of South Carolina, who Cannatti said was “coordinating efforts” between the Republican Attorneys General filing the lawsuit. As Scot Ross of OWN notes, it’s more than a little odd that Van Hollen’s Justice Department chose to consult Republican-affiliated political consultants instead of consulting legal experts and scholars:

“Van Hollen needs to explain why instead of consulting legal experts and constitutional scholars, he was relying on advice from political consultants,” said Ross. “It’s a gross abuse of power when the Attorney General puts politics above the law.”

The fact that the Department of Justice felt the need to consult a political operative working for a Republican-affiliated organization doesn’t pass the smell test, just as the fact that the Department of Justice is refusing to release all the email communications regarding Van Hollen’s attempt to join the health care lawsuit smells more than a little funny. I can’t help but wonder what else J.B. Van Hollen is trying to hide regarding the marching orders he’s been taking from his bosses in the Republican Party.


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4 thoughts on “The DOJ/GOP connection

  1. Scot Ross will do anything to deflect the actual conversation about the lawsuit. Having the federal government mandate that a private citizen buy health insurance or face a fine and eventually jail time is not very popular. What to do…

    Create a shiny object and talk about that. This is a nothing story. The lawsuit, however, is a nightmare for Democrats who supported the bill.

    Just another smoking gun for Scot Ross. Here is a little secret – Scot finds a new smoking gun every day and they never have anything to do with substance…

  2. So one can assume by this post that you are advocating the AG no longer be an elected and/or partisan position?

    1. No, I’m simply advocating that the AG do his job without first taking his marching orders from the GOP. This wouldn’t be an issue if he had sought guidance from constitutional or legal scholars, but instead he chose to get guidance from a GOP political operative.

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