VOL. 18  ISSUE NO. 27   |   JULY 4 – 10, 2012


Bloggers who broke Fast & Furious file ethics complaint against Holder

‘ATF has earned a reputation for vindictiveness when it comes to retaliating against its employees’
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David Codrea  and Mike VanderboeghAlthough rarely mentioned in connection with what has become the highest-profile law-enforcement failure of the Obama administration, David Codrea (l) and Mike Vanderboegh are the self-described “camo-clad, Gonzo bloggers” who broke the Fast and Furious story.

WASHINGTON – As anticipated, the Department of Justice has declined to investigate or prosecute the criminal contempt of Congress charge against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

However, David Codrea, a reporter for Examiner.com, and Mike Vanderboegh of the Sipsey Street Irregulars blog, who broke the story on Fast and Furious back in December 2010, say that will not let Holder off the hook for his lies and malfeasances.

On Tuesday, July 3, Codrea and Vanderboegh filed an ethics complaint with the Office of Bar Counsel, Board on Professional Responsibility, District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

According to their complaint, Holder, having been found in contempt of Congress on June 28, 2012, “for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,” is in violation of several, if not all, of Rule 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which states: “It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

a. Violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;

b. Commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;

c. Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation;

d. Engage in conduct that seriously interferes with the administration of justice;

e. State or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official;

f. Knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law; or

g. Seek or threaten to seek criminal charges or disciplinary charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter.”

Codrea and Vanderboegh go on to cite Rule 8.5, which states, “A lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction, regardless of where the lawyer’s conduct occurs,” and wrote, “[D]ue to the seriousness of this misconduct, we, as citizens of the Republic, with an interest in ensuring full accountability for the legal conduct of government officials, feel compelled to issue a formal complaint in accordance with your established filing protocol …”

Fearing some on the Board may be sympathetic to Holder’s positions and hostile to those of the House contempt charges, Vanderboegh and Codrea wanted to ensure their complaint receives proper attention and is not ignored through deliberate indifference, so they made the letter publicly available via their respective websites, SipseyStreetIrregulars.blogspot.com and DavidCodrea.com.

They also noted the District of Columbia Bar’s own Rule XI, Section 10, addressing an attorney being found guilty of a crime or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to a criminal charge in a court either inside or outside of the District of Columbia, appears to remove the bar’s discretion and require an investigation.

It also requires the attorney to notify the court and Board within 10 days from the date of such finding or plea.

Section (b) defines the term “serious crime” as “1. any felony, and 2. any other crime a necessary element of which, as determined by the statutory or common law definition of such crime, involves improper conduct as an attorney, interference with the administration of justice, false swearing, misrepresentation, fraud, willful failure to file income tax returns, deceit, bribery, extortion, misappropriation, theft, or an attempt or a conspiracy or solicitation of another to commit a ‘serious crime.’”

Codrea and Vanderboegh note, although courts have not yet been involved, there is no question that Congress has found Holder guilty of contempt under conditions that rise to the definition of “serious crime.”

They wrote, “It would also appear that Attorney General Holder is required to report the contempt finding to you within the 10-day requirement, and that the Bar ‘shall’ investigate this matter.”

The botched Fast and Furious gunwalking operation, which resulted in the murder of U.S. Border agent Brian Terry and countless others in Mexico and the United States and became the most high profile scandal of the Obama presidency, has its roots in reporting by Vanderboegh and Codrea, two conservative gun rights bloggers.

Prior to breaking the story on Dec. 28, 2010, 13 days after Terry’s murder, Codrea and Vanderboegh were gun-rights activists who accrued small bands of loyal followers with a live-free-or-die ethos.

Vanderboegh said, “It has been the fight of my life.”

Meanwhile, Codrea and Vanderboegh have obtained an exclusive copy of a June 1, 2012 letter written by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa to Holder, warning him against continued retaliation against whistleblowers in the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents Jay Dobyns and John Dodson.

Issa, referencing his Oct. 12, 2011 letter to Holder, said, “I wrote to you to express serious concerns about retaliation by the Department [of Justice] against whistleblowers who provided information in the Fast and Furious investigation. I now write regarding reports that another whistleblower, Special agent Jay Dobyns, has also been retaliated against for speaking out about mismanagement and abuse at ATF.”

He went on to say, “ATF has earned a reputation for vindictiveness when it comes to retaliating against its employees. Unfortunately, despite prior assurances from senior ATF officials, it appears that Acting Director B. Todd Jones has yet to change this reputation, as he recently upbraided Special Agent John Dobson in a private meeting at ATF headquarters. These apparent attempts to silence critics of the Bureau are potentially illegal and certainly counter-productive.”

Issa concluded his letter with, “It appears that ATF has not received instructions from Department leadership that retaliation is not to be tolerated in any Department component. Please ensure that ATF receives the necessary instructions reiterating this policy.”

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