127,000 Want Rove in Contempt

Isaiah J. Poole

If Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives go forward with a floor vote to hold ex-White House chief of staff Karl Rove in contempt of Congress, a petition drive spearheaded by Brave New Films, People for the American Way, the Campaign for America’s Future and other groups says, in effect, “More than 127,000 people have got your back.”

The petition signatures, collected via SendRovetoJail.com in about 10 days, were delivered late Tuesday to Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law. Sanchez has been an outspoken supporter of moves to punish Rove for refusing to obey a congressional subpoena.

The process for bringing contempt charges against Rove for ignoring the subpoena was scheduled to start at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday when the House Judiciary Committee considers a resolution and report on the matter. If the committee approves the contempt resolution, it will be sent to the full House for a vote.

“I think it is ridiculous that Karl Rove thinks that he doesn’t have to follow the law, and nobody in this country should be above the law. So hopefully we will get back on that path of restoring checks and balances and see if we can hold him accountable,” she said.

Rove is alleged to have been behind the politically motivated prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, and is also suspected of being a driving force behind Monica Goodling’s partisan political hiring abuses in the Justice Department. Rove has denied involvement in these matters, but he won’t issue those denials under oath before Congress. White House Counsel Fred Fielding has advised Rove that he does not have to testify. Though media reports say the White House has cited executive privilege, whether it applies in this case is in dispute.

The big question is not whether the Judiciary Committee will vote for contempt — a party-line vote was expected, with Republicans dismissing the issue as a politically motivated witch-hunt — but whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will get behind the effort and ensure a House floor vote that would lead to Rove being jailed. At the Netroots Nation conference in Austin earlier this month, she hedged her words. She may have just wanted to keep her real thoughts on the matter out of the right-wing spin cycle, but if her caginess proves to be a sign of her reticence for holding Rove to the rule of law, whatever political repercussions that may concern her could be insignificant compared to the anger she will spark among Americans who agree with the petition signers that “since Rove regards the law with such contempt, it’s high time the law and Congress hold him in contempt as well.”

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