Former US Attorney Iglesias: 'Why I was fired'
Fired U.S. attorney David Iglesias penned an op-ed in Wednesday's New York Times, asserting that "politics played a role" in the Justice Department's decision to end his tenure as a New Mexico federal prosecutor.
Referring to all eight axed attorneys, Iglesias writes that "the argument that we were fired for 'performance related' reasons (in the words of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty) is starting to look more than a little wobbly."
Iglesias went on to recount phone calls he received from top New Mexico lawmakers, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM), during which he was inappropriately pressed for information regarding "a politically charged corruption case."
"A few weeks after those phone calls, my name was added to a list of United States attorneys who would be asked to resign," wrote Iglesias, "even though I had excellent office evaluations, the biggest political corruption prosecutions in New Mexico history, a record number of overall prosecutions and a 95 percent conviction rate."
Indeed, a 2004 Justice Department memo described Iglesias as a "diverse up-and-comer, solid." The Justice Department was considering promoting Iglesias to run the Washington, D.C. office that served all U.S. attorneys. That memo was among 3,000 pages of documents delivered to the House and Senate Judiciary committees this week by the Justice Department.
Iglesias ends his op-ed expressing gratitude for President Bush's appreciation of his service, which he stated during a White House address yesterday, but added that "only a written retraction by the Justice Department setting the record straight regarding my performance would settle the issue for me."
According to a report in the Albuquerque Tribune, Iglesias is now calling for his position to be filled by one of his two former top aides instead of a politically appointed nominee.
As this story has unfolded these last few weeks, much has been made of my decision to not prosecute alleged voter fraud in New Mexico. Without the benefit of reviewing evidence gleaned from F.B.I. investigative reports, party officials in my state have said that I should have begun a prosecution. What the critics, who donít have any experience as prosecutors, have asserted is reprehensible ó namely that I should have proceeded without having proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The public has a right to believe that prosecution decisions are made on legal, not political, grounds.
Whatís more, their narrative has largely ignored that I was one of just two United States attorneys in the country to create a voter-fraud task force in 2004. Mine was bipartisan, and it included state and local law enforcement and election officials.
After reviewing more than 100 complaints of voter fraud, I felt there was one possible case that should be prosecuted federally. I worked with the F.B.I. and the Justice Departmentís public integrity section. As much as I wanted to prosecute the case, I could not overcome evidentiary problems. The Justice Department and the F.B.I. did not disagree with my decision in the end not to prosecute.
Good has already come from this scandal. Yesterday, the Senate voted to overturn a 2006 provision in the Patriot Act that allows the attorney general to appoint indefinite interim United States attorneys. The attorney generalís chief of staff has resigned and been replaced by a respected career federal prosecutor, Chuck Rosenberg. The president and attorney general have admitted that ďmistakes were made,Ē and Mr. Domenici and Ms. Wilson have publicly acknowledged calling me.
LINK TO NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED