Politics

GOP field silent on Fast and Furious, Justice Dept. reforms

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter

Not one Republican presidential candidate has offered a plan for reforming the Justice Department or preventing future administrations from plowing forward with catastrophes like Operation Fast and Furious, the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case or the politicization of the career hiring in the DOJ’s civil rights division.

Operation Fast and Furious hasn’t come up during a debate yet, nor has reform of the Justice Department. Many of the candidates have not even commented on Fast and Furious. After an extensive search, The Daily Caller only found two candidates who have: Congressman Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich’s comments on Fast and Furious came during a speech in early May to the National Rifle Association. “[The administration’s] total mismanagement of the sting into Mexico, the Obama administration is the most consistently anti-gun administration we have ever seen,” Gingrich said.

Paul’s comments came via a campaign statement in mid-June. “The ATF has a long history of abusing our Second Amendment rights, so I was glad to see Congressman Issa demanding answers on the Project ‘Gunwalker’ scandal,” Paul said. “My hope is that the recent hearing will further expose the ATF’s and Attorney General Eric Holder’s assaults on law-abiding gun owners, and more people will start questioning the need for unconstitutional agencies like the ATF that exist solely to infringe on American citizens’ God-given right to keep and bear arms.”

Other candidates, including Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, businessman Herman Cain and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum have been mum on Fast and Furious.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has been mum, too, but his campaign spokesman Tim Miller told TheDC on Thursday afternoon that he wouldn’t allow these to types of programs to exist if elected president. (RELATED: Dueling press releases, bewildering polls as GOP hopefuls gear up for Orlando debate)

“Governor Huntsman would obviously ensure that the law is upheld in his administration and he’d be diligent in bringing to an end irresponsible and ill-advised Obama Administration programs like Fast & Furious,” Miller said in an email to TheDC on Thursday.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa endorsed Romney on Thursday, even though the former Bay State governor hasn’t forcefully spoken about Justice Department reform or about Operation Fast and Furious. Issa has spearheaded the congressional investigation into what happened during Fast and Furious and who’s responsible for it.

Issa praised Romney’s business experience in the private sector, but as far as what’s publicly known, Romney didn’t have any conversations whatsoever with Issa about Fast and Furious or the Justice Department.

Heritage Foundation DOJ expert Hans von Spakovsky told TheDC that he’s disappointed that Justice Department overreach hasn’t made it into the political limelight yet. Spakovsky said he hasn’t seen any of the candidates talking about the issue.

“One thing that [Attorney General Eric] Holder has kind of taken advantage of is the Justice Department budget, it needs to be drastically cut,” Spakovsky said in a phone interview. “The budget has gone up enormously for the Justice Department in the Obama administration and the problem with that is with these huge increases in the budget, they’ve hired huge numbers of new lawyers.”

With former DOJ civil rights division official J. Christian Adams, Spakovsky has exposed the Obama administration for hiring ideologues with a political agenda for supposedly apolitical positions in the DOJ’s civil rights division.

At the civil rights division, where Adams and Spakovsky formerly worked, the Obama administration has hired about 113 new lawyers. Spakovsky adds that the boatload of new of lawyers need something to do, so they pursue otherwise fringe cases.

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton told TheDC that Americans shouldn’t have to wait until the next election cycle for DOJ reform, and said Obama should “dump Holder” now.

Even so, high-level government corruption is something Fitton hopes all political leaders on both sides attack. Fitton expressed hope that Republican candidates would begin to address Justice Department reform.

“As a watchdog that’s looking for leadership, whether or not people are running for office, you want people to be talking about issues we know people care about,” Fitton said. “We know people care about corruption in government and that’s obviously not being talked enough about by either the Obama administration or Republicans.”

When TheDC asked each of the six major Republican presidential candidates’ campaigns what type of plan for Justice Department reform they have, none answered.

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