Sen. Josh Hawley has asked the Justice Department to investigate Kim Gardner, the St. Louis prosecutor. Gardner is persecuting the McCloskeys, the St. Louis couple who brandished guns when a mob invaded their property and two of its members, both white, threatened them. According to reports, she issued warrants, confiscated their guns, and is considering whether to bring criminal charges against them.
I’m not persuaded that the low level of persecution to date warrants federal intervention. If Gardner decides to prosecute the McCloskeys for exercising their civil rights, that might be a different matter.
Meanwhile, Gardner is playing the race card to the hilt. She told the Washington Post, “this is a dog whistle of racist rhetoric and cronyism.” As far as I can tell from the Post’s article, Gardner did not identify any “rhetoric” from Hawley that has anything to do with race or could plausibly viewed as such. Nor did she identify any cronies.
Gardner is just stringing buzz words together. One would hope for better from a prosecutor.
Gardner did attempt an argument when she claimed that Hawley is “usurping the will of the voters.” But this argument makes no sense.
Elected officials aren’t exempt from federal investigation into possible civil rights violations or any other violations of the law. Public officials aren’t above federal law just because they are elected. That’s true of the U.S. president, as Democrats constantly intone, and it’s true of local prosecutors.
The Washington Post turns its report on Hawley’s request into a pro-Gardner puff piece. The Post’s Tom Jackman writes glowingly about her alleged accomplishments as a prosecutor.
Jackman neglects to mention that Gardner’s office has experienced a more than 100 percent turnover in staff since she took office in 2017. More than 65 attorneys with a combined experience of over 460 years in prosecutorial experience have departed during this three-and-half year period. Even some of the attorneys she hired have since quit.
In addition, Jackman has nothing to say about Garnder’s poor record in court — a likely consequence, at least in part, of all the turnover. I’m told that her conviction rate is only around 20 percent in cases tried to verdict. That’s a terrible record given all of the advantages prosecutors have.
Incompetence isn’t grounds for a federal investigation. However, the denial of civil rights is. If Gardner prosecutes the McCloskeys on the facts as I understand them to be, she will have no legitimate complaint should the Justice Department investigate.