Register columnists question McCoy prosecution

As you recall, a federal jury recently acquitted Matt McCoy after deliberating for less than two hours—an embarrassing outcome for the prosecution.

Marc Hansen, who for my money is the best columnist at the Des Moines Register, wrote a good column about speculation that politics influenced McCoy’s prosecution. Key passage:

Most Democrats you talk to around here say politics was behind the prosecution of state Sen. Matt McCoy.

They have their reasons. Some even sound legitimate, especially in light of a recent University of Minnesota study that brings hard numbers to the discussion.

For every elected Republican the Justice Department has investigated during the George W. Bush years, seven elected Democrats have been investigated, the research says.

Can that be right? Are there really that many more bad-apple Democrats?

The jury took about an hour and a half last week to decide that McCoy wasn’t guilty of attempted extortion. And that includes lunch.

Rekha Basu wrote a good column last week: Question lingers: Why was McCoy prosecuted? Click the link—it’s worth your time to read the whole thing. This passage toward the end was news to me:

McCoy’s defense tried to get access to memos between the FBI, Justice Department and local U.S. attorney’s office, but was turned down in U.S. District Court. His lawyers wanted to see whether anything indicated a political motivation. There’s nothing else they can do, says attorney F. Montgomery Brown. “Prosecutors have near absolute immunity. There’s just no remedy there.”

There is one, but it would have to come from a member of Congress. Sens. Tom Harkin or Chuck Grassley can and should request access to the correspondence. Voters and taxpayers deserve to know whether this was just a poorly conceived and badly bungled effort by the government – or whether something else was going on.

Grassley would never help on this matter, but I wonder if Harkin would consider it.

Also, I wonder if anyone on the Talking Points Memo muckraking staff has looked into this prosecution.

  • Grassley should help!

    Grassley is on the Judiciary Committee.  This is his specialty!  He’s such a Big Shot that he has three major committee assignments (Finance, Judiciary, Agriculture).

    He should not be let off the hook here.  All his posturing about openness in government (patron Senator of all whistleblowers; opponent of secret holds in the Senate) is just for show if he isn’t suspicious of the McCoy case.  If he can get to the bottom of it, he owes it to Iowa to do so.

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