Hyperpartisanship Watch

HYPERPARTISANSHIP WATCH….Paul Krugman’s column today is about a study by two retired professors, Donald Shields and John Cragan, who have taken a look at the partisan breakdown of corruption investigations by the Department of Justice under George Bush. Their preliminary results, published in 2004, showed that DOJ initiated far more investigations of Democrats than Republicans, and their followup study shows that the pattern continued through 2006. However, the really interesting part came in the breakdown between local cases and national cases.

In statewide and federal cases they found a total of 66 investigations. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Democrats: 36

  • Republicans: 30

This is roughly what you’d expect. Democrats are slightly overrepresented compared to their actual numbers, but only by a bit. There’s nothing fishy. But the numbers for local cases paint a very different story. They found 309 investigations, broken down as follows:

  • Democrats: 262

  • Republicans: 37

  • Independents: 10

Now isn’t that odd? At the local level, even though both parties make up about half of all elected officials, Democrats get hammered and Republicans are left alone. Shields and Cragan offer up the following hypothesis:

We believe that this tremendous disparity is politically motivated and it occurs because the local (non-statewide and non-Congressional) investigations occur under the radar of a diligent national press. Each instance is treated by a local beat reporter as an isolated case that is only of local interest….[Conversely] because the investigations of state-wide and federal elected officials and candidates occurred within the radar of the national press, there was little room for nefarious, out-of-line investigations for political purposes on the part of the Bush Justice Department.

And who does these investigations? Why, U.S. Attorneys, the very group that Alberto Gonzales has been busily trying to make even more partisan. Apparently a 262-37 breakdown isn’t good enough for him.