Former U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin said Thursday that allegations that he had participated in voter suppression “are completely and absolutely false,” that his experience as U.S. attorney had not been worth the criticism he and his wife have endured, and that he plans to remain in Little Rock to open a “bipartisan” public affairs firm.
In an almost 90-minute speech before a standing-room-only crowd at the Clinton School of Public Service, Griffin became emotional several times, choking up as he detailed his political and legal career and what he described as his constant effort to return to Arkansas to live and work.
Griffin, a former aide to Bush political strategist Karl Rove, stepped down as interim U.S. attorney for the Eastern District June 1 after less than six months in the position. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales dismissed Bud Cummins in December to make way for Griffin. The appointment was made under a provision of the U.S. Patriot Act, which permitted Griffin to serve without Senate confirmation.
Griffin, a native of Magnolia, almost immediately faced criticism that he was a purely political appointee of the Bush administration. Both Arkansas Sens. David Pryor and Blanche Lincoln strongly opposed Griffin’s appointment.
The dismissals of Cummins and seven other U.S. attorneys eventually prompted national media attention and congressional hearings. Administration critics have said the U.S. attorneys were removed for political reasons and that members of the U.S. Justice Department had been acting in a partisan manner.
Griffin said in his speech — his first public address since leaving office — that from the beginning of his appointment as interim U.S. attorney, he had planned to undergo the Senate confirmation process.
“Ultimately, I wanted to be confirmed by the Senate and naively, perhaps, thought I would be,” Griffin said.
Griffin noted that U.S. District Judge Thomas Eisele had upheld his appointment as U.S. attorney.
“After taking office in December 2006, when insurmountable objects were made to my candidacy by my own state senators,” Griffin said, he eventually decided to step down.
Griffin’s remarks about reports that he participated in effort to suppress Democratic votes, using a technique called “caging,” came in response to a question at the end of his speech.
“This is all made up of whole cloth,” he said. “I didn’t cage votes.”
Most of his remarks consisted of details of his work history. Griffin said that he had sought for a decade to return to his native state to live and work, but that other opportunities, such as with the Republican National Committee, the Bush presidential campaign and the chance to work in the White House, kept derailing his plans.
Griffin said that he spent only a little more than five months at the White House and that he had been labeled “Karl Rove’s protégé. I wish someone had told me that.”
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