By DAVID MARTIN
An investigation into the firing of nine U.S. attorneys confirms the rumor that Missouri Sen. Kit Bond can't stomach Jeff Roe, the sharp-elbowed Republican operative.
I had heard that Bond and his people didn't like Roe (pictured) in 2004. I was reporting a story about Roe and the rough tactics he deployed against Republicans and Democrats alike. Congressman Sam Graves' longtime political adviser, Roe is famous for negative campaigning at Lee Atwater-Karl Rove altitudes. In an effort to beat back Kay Barnes' challenge this fall, Team Graves has resorted to homophobia, airing ads that decry the former Kansas City mayor's "San Francisco values."
Todd Graves, the congressman's brother, was among the nine U.S. attorneys who were told to resign in 2006 and 2007. An investigation of the firings released today found "significant evidence that political and partisan considerations were an important factor," as Bush administration critics have alleged.
Graves was the first attorney ordered down the plank. The Justice Department investigators who looked into the firings determined that complaints from Bond's office prompted Graves' removal.
According to the report, Bond's staff urged the White House to remove Graves because he had refused to intervene in a conflict between Bond's and his brother's people. Graves told investigators that a Bond staffer called him in 2004 and insisted that he persuade his brother to fire his chief of staff.
Though not named in the report, Roe was Sam Graves' chief of staff at the time. He now owns and operates a consulting company, Axiom Strategies.
Graves told investigators that he didn't speak to his brother about the call from the Bond staffer, adding "if something like this could cost me a prosecutor's job, they could have it."
Though U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president, the Justice Department investigation termed Graves' removal to be "inappropriate." The report says Graves was fired because of "a political dispute among Missouri politicians," not an objective assessment of his performance.
Bond declined to speak with investigators. He wrote a letter stating that to best of his recollection he did not communicate with anyone in the administration about Graves' performance.