Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Senator Scott Falls for Farr-Fetched Smear

Per this Washington Post article, Senator Tim Scott, in explaining his decision to vote against, and thereby kill, the nomination of Thomas Farr to a federal district judgeship, asserts that a long 1991 Department of Justice memo that was leaked a few days ago “shed new light on Mr. Farr’s activities” during the 1990 Helms campaign. But I have no idea what “new light” Scott thinks the memo shed or how there is anything new in it that reflects unfavorably on Farr.

As I explained a year ago, Farr was among those who attended a meeting in mid-October 1990 with a consultant who was proposing to do a ballot-security program for the campaign. As Farr explained a year ago in a letter to Senator Booker, he told the meeting participants that “there was no reason to do a card mailing in 1990 because North Carolina law had been changed and returned cards could not be used to challenge voters.” The discussion on pages 12 to 13 of the DOJ memo is entirely consistent with Farr’s explanation from a year ago and, so far as I can see, does not cast any negative light on Farr.

The subject of the DOJ complaint against some members of the campaign team concerned postcards that the campaign drafted in late October 1990. One year ago, campaign manager Carter Wrenn confirmed Farr’s testimony that Farr had no knowledge of those postcards: “Tom hadn’t seen the card that had been mailed, did not know it had been mailed, or know who it was mailed.” Nothing in the DOJ memo suggests otherwise—which explains why DOJ’s complaint did not name Farr as a defendant.

As Farr explained a year ago:

When I first saw the language on the card after it had been mailed and was advised as to whom it had been mailed, I was appalled. I immediately recommended that the Helms Committee cancel their 1990 ballot security program which they did. I then spent the next several months working with the Justice Department to resolve the matter with a consent decree.

As with the Ryan Bounds fiasco last summer, it appears that Senator Scott has allowed himself to be snookered.


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