Acknolwedgement of investigation is contrary to decades-long FBI practice
Hot on the heels of the Department of Justice’s suddenly-renewed interest in George Zimmerman’s civil rights liability in the self-defense killing of Trayvon Martin (see: FBI Convenes Grand Jury For Zimmerman Civil Rights Case) just days before next week’s election comes another DOJ action timed perfectly for electoral manipulation.
National Review Online is reporting that the FBI (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the DOJ) has made the highly unusual decision to disclose their investigation into Mike Rounds (pictured above), a Republican Senate candidate in South Dakota, less than a week before next Tuesday’s vote.
The alleged misconduct being investigated is somewhat obscure–something involving a work visa program in the state–but it is notable that the alleged misconduct was to have occurred three years ago, and the FBI’s announcement comes a year after the state’s own attorney general closed its own investigation without bringing any charges.
The concern, of course, is that the FBI announcement was timed to influence Rounds’ prospects in next week’s voting. When asked for more detail, the FBI replied that the agent in charge of the investigation would be unavailable to provide additional information until late next week, after the election, thus leaving a cloud over Rounds’ candidacy through election day.
The National Review Online piece brought in some interesting insight from a career FBI agent, now retired, Jeff Lanza:
Jeff Lanza, who worked for the FBI for more than 20 years, tells National Review Online that the acknowledgement of an investigation is a breach of FBI protocol unless a public official has made the investigation public, knowledge of the investigation is already widespread, or the public admission serves a law-enforcement function. Lanza tells NRO that it remains unclear whether the investigation met any of these standards, and he says he is surprised by the bureau’s acknowledgement of the ongoing investigation. “It’s highly unusual that you would acknowledge an investigation into a political figure who is running for office in an upcoming election,” he says. “I think it deserves an explanation, because it does come off as potentially political when you announce an investigation in a candidate who’s running for office.” The FBI has not identified the specific target or targets of its investigation publicly.
Curiouser, and curiouser.
Color me cynical.
Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.