Two sons of prominent Democratic polticians and three paid party activists will face felony charges as a result of a widely-publicized attempt to keep Republicans from voting on Election Day in Milwaukee. The charges will be filed on Monday, highlighting the other unrelated issues of voter fraud in Wisconsin’s largest city and Democratic stronghold:
The investigation into the Great Tire-Slashing Caper will end Monday with felony charges against the adult sons of two prominent Milwaukee politicians – U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore and former Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt.
Sources close to the 83-day-old probe said Sowande Omokunde, Michael Pratt and three other paid Democratic activists will each be charged with a single felony count of criminal damage to property, legalese for vandalism.
Omokunde, also known as Supreme Solar Allah, is the 25-year-old son of the rookie congresswoman. Pratt, 32, worked on Kerry’s local campaign, which was chaired by his father.
Pratt, Omokunde and the other staffers will be accused of cutting the tires of some 20 vans and cars rented by the state Republican Party to usher the party faithful to and from the polls on election day. The charges will state that the damage to the vehicles was well in excess of $2,500 – the minimum required to merit a felony.
Originally police reported one arrest, that of Opel Simmons III, a Democratic activist working for John Kerry. Cary Spivak and Dan Bice now report that Simmons will face no charges and has returned to his home in Virginia. The initial report gave the impression that the tire-slashing was an isolated act by one person out of control. Now, however, the district attorney’s actions indicate that this was a conspiracy, even if the specific charge isn’t included.
I wonder why the DA is so reluctant to include a conspiracy complaint. If five people come together to plan a felony and then commit it, does that not constitute a conspiracy — especially when the intent of the felony is to deprive people of a vote in a presidential election? Spivak and Bice note that federal charges are unlikely if the charges match up against the state charges in this case, but if Wisconsin doesn’t charge them with the conspiracy, then the feds should file a civil-rights criminal case against the five.
Why did the Milwaukee DA decide to just focus on the felony vandalism? It could be the powerful parents of the two men. That also could explain why the investigation dragged on for over two months. But the reluctance could be credited to the connections back to the Kerry campaign and the uncomfortable questions that raises. According to Spivak and Bice, the campaign headquarters hardly thought about civil rights and disenfranchisement when they heard about the slashings:
Sources say that investigators caught a break in the case because the slashings quickly became the talk of the Kerry headquarters on the morning of Nov. 2.
“People came back and bragged about what they did,” said one source.
Added a second: “Ultimately, they didn’t see this as a badge of shame that they needed to hide from their co-workers.”
So the Kerry campaign staff knew exactly who committed the crime, and yet it took over two months to bring charges against the quintet? It sounds like a lot of people in Kerry’s office became accessories after the fact. One could presume that investigators asked the staff about the slashings; if they protected the five slashers or remained silent about what they knew, that could form an obstruction of justice charge, too.
We need to know much more about the Kerry campaign’s involvement in this incident, either before or after the fact. We also need to know why the DA seems intent on charging these men with the minimum necessary for trial. The FBI should remain on the case and refer it to the US district attorney and take jurisdiction from Milwaukee in order to ensure that local politics haven’t played a role in the investigation.