Meet Tim Griffin: Karl Rove’s Man in Congress

Following last Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our fifth candidate profile is on Tim Griffin of Arkansas:

Running in an open Democratic district, Tim Griffin defeated progressive champion Joyce Elliott to win the election to represent Arkansas’s 2nd Congressional District.

Tim Griffin worked in the two Bush presidential campaigns and McCain’s 2008 campaign as the Republicans’ chief opposition researcher. In 2000, he said with regards to his opposition research department: “We think of ourselves as the creators of the ammunition in a war…. We make the bullets.” Conservative columnist Robert Novak called Griffin “a protégé of Karl Rove, who is a leading practitioner of opposition research — the digging up of derogatory information about political opponents.”

He received notoriety in 2004 for his work to advance the false smears propagated by the discredited group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Griffin next came to light when President Bush appointed him U.S. Attorney as part of his ongoing efforts to politicize the Department of Justice. “In December 2006, US Attorney Bud Cummings was fired from his district in Northeast Arkansas and replaced with Tim Griffin,” writes investigative journalist Shannyn Moore, as the Bush Administration used a little known provision of the USA Patriot Act to avoid confirmation hearings and votes by the US Senate. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNaulty later testified that “Cummings was fired to make a place for Griffin at the urging of Karl Rove and Harriet Miers,” the former White House Counsel. Kyle Sampson, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s Chief of Staff, wrote in an email that “getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.”

Paul Charlton, who was also ousted in the Bush Administration’s Purge of US Attorneys, said that Griffin “spread the rumors around the White House that Bud Cummins was not a good U.S. attorney” in order to get him fired. Another U.S. Attorney who was pushed out during the purge, David Iglesias, maintains that Tim Griffin “never should have been U.S. Attorney, he was fundamentally unqualified.”

When defending Griffin’s nomination, the Bush Administration used “misleading talking points” which significantly exaggerated his experience as a prosecutor.

Griffin continued his deeply political work while serving as a U.S. Attorney, but was forced to resign in 2007 when he was caught in a “vote caging” operation to prevent minorities from voting. The BBC uncovered emails sent by Griffin during the 2004 campaign which included ‘caging lists’ to bar typically marginalized groups voting, and Griffin’s “caging lists were heavily weighted with minority voters including homeless individuals, students and soldiers sent overseas.”

According to Iglesias, his management of the vote caging maneuvers represents “reprehensible conduct and it may be illegal.” As a result of his disreputable background, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) rated him one of the “most corrupt” candidates for Congress.

When he was not working in the Bush Administration or for GOP campaigns, Griffin was a high-paid consultant and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars while working for “lobbying and consulting firms on shadowy causes,” including the corporate astro-turf campaign that was fighting Alaska’s Clean Water Initiative.

Throughout his congressional campaign, Griffin has closely followed the Karl Rove-playbook of appealing to both corporate interests and the Religious Right. Griffin wants to repeal health care reform and once supported the elimination of corporate taxes in favor of a national sales tax. At a candidate forum, he even went out of his way to laud the state’s relatively low wages for workers and anti-union laws.

An opponent of equal rights and a woman’s right to choose, Griffin supports a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage, believes that employers should be allowed to fire their employees due to their sexual orientation, and has pledged to protect the discriminatory Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA). The fervently anti-choice group Americans United for Life Action ran ads boosting Griffin and criticizing his opponent, saying that she does not care about “the life of an innocent child.”

After a long career of dirty tricks, corporate astro-turfing, and Rovian politics, Griffin is a darling of the Republican leadership and set to become a star member of the GOP’s freshman class.

Watch this segment from the Bill Moyers Journal on Tim Griffin: