Is the Justice Department Conducting Latino Outreach on Behalf of the GOP?

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Posted on October 22, 2007, Printed on October 22, 2007

Earlier this month, the Department of Justice’s top official overseeing
voting rights, John Tanner, made some insensitive comments about elderly and
minority voters at a Latino forum in Los Angeles, raising eyebrows in the
voting rights community and prompting Democratic presidential candidate Sen.
Barack Obama to call for his ouster on Friday.

But the greater outrage, according to civil rights lawyers across the
country, is how the Department’s Voting Section has turned away from
defending minorities that are seen as supporting Democrats — African
Americans and Native Americans — while instead focusing on another minority
that is seen as a Republican swing vote — Latinos.

“It may be cynical, but it may also be true,” said Julie Fernandes, senior
policy analyst and special counsel for the Leadership Conference on Civil
Rights, “that the enforcement for Latinos has been more vigorous because
they see it as more in their political interest — their partisan interest.”

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