Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Fired U.S. Attroney: There Is A Cover-up
McKay Suggests Cover-Up in Prosecutor Case
By Sean Cockerham
Sunday 20 May 2007
Wenatchee - Fired U.S. Attorney John McKay said Sunday he believes the Justice Department is covering up the real reason for his ouster.
"I can see why they would want to come up with an explanation other than the governor's election for why I would be on such a list," said McKay, the U.S. attorney for Western Washington until his firing in December.
McKay pointed to the revelation that he first appeared on the Bush administration firing list in 2005 during the heat of the furor over Washington state's election for governor. Some Republicans were appalled that McKay didn't bring charges of election fraud in the race won by Democrat Chris Gregoire.
"I still don't know if the 2004 governor's election was the principal reason I was asked to step down," McKay said in a speech at the Mainstream Republicans of Washington's Cascade Conference in Wenatchee.
"If it was, I think it is an entirely improper and perhaps illegal reason for my termination," said McKay.
McKay said he led a federal investigation that found no evidence of a crime in the election. He made clear he still has huge concerns over the controversial election that resulted in a Gregoire victory on the second recount by just 133 votes out of almost 3 million cast.
"There is no doubt in my mind there were a lot of stinky, nasty things about that election," McKay said in an interview.
But prosecuting a federal crime requires proof of more than just mistakes and incompetence in the handling of ballots, he said.
One of Nine
McKay, a Republican appointed by President Bush, oversaw justice department offices in Tacoma and Seattle for five years. That's before he was one of nine U.S. attorneys nationwide to lose their jobs in what has become a huge controversy for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
McKay's Sunday speech at the Mainstream Republicans of Washington conference was his
first appearance before a political group since he was fired. He sounded like a candidate at times, talking about the values of being a Republican and saying he wants to be involved somehow in politics.
But he denied speculation he's planning a run for office.
He said he hopes Dino Rossi, the Republican who lost to Gregoire, will run again in 2008.
McKay said he would support Rossi.
The Justice Department has offered a shifting set of explanations for McKay's firing. Gonzales first said it was because of comments McKay made to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about budget cuts and because of how McKay pursued an information-sharing project. But both of those happened after he was put on the firing list in March 2005.
Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' chief of staff, has raised the possibility that McKay made the list for pushing too hard for additional resources to investigate the Seattle murder of Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Wales.
Sampson kept the list of prosecutors to be fired.
McKay said Sunday that would be a "despicable" reason if that's actually why he was fired.
"I frankly don't believe it," he told the state mainstream Republican group. "I think they are trying to cover something up."
Gonzales has acknowledged he was aware of a "great deal of concern" from Washington state Republicans over how McKay handled fraud allegations in the 2004 governor's race. The attorney general told Congress earlier this month that he doesn't know if that's a reason McKay made the list.
"I never expected to have to look over my shoulder politically to see if many people back there wanted more voter fraud cases and I was missing the opportunity," McKay said.
There are at least seven states where it appears that U.S. attorneys were fired or considered for firing as Republicans in those states urged investigations or prosecutions of possible Democratic voter fraud, McClatchy Newspapers has reported.
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....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free