The Justice Department’s top election official who resigned Monday after Attorney General William Barr authorized investigations into potential election fraud was previously involved in a 2010 Internal Revenue Service controversy related to the targeting of certain nonprofit organizations for increased scrutiny.
Barr on Monday authorized prosecutors to “pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities … in certain cases,” according to the memo. “Such inquiries and reviews may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.”
“Nothing here should be taken as any indication that the Department has concluded that voting irregularities have impacted the outcome of any election,” Barr added.
Richard Pilger, the director of the election crimes branch in the DOJ, sent an email notifying his intent to resign just hours after Barr’s announcement, saying that the authorization “abrogat[ed] the 40-year-old Non-Interference Policy for ballot fraud investigation in the period prior to elections becoming certified and uncontested.”
Having familiarized myself with the new policy and its ramifications, and in accord with the best tradition of the John C. Keeney Award For Exceptional Integrity and Professionalism … I must regretfully resign from my role as Director of the Election Crimes Branch,” Pilger wrote to his colleagues. “I have enjoyed very much working with you for over a decade to aggressively and diligently enforce federal criminal election law, policy, and practice without partisan fear or favor. I thank you for your support in that effort.”
Pilger is not leaving the DOJ, just stepping down from his current position, according to former DOJ Civil Rights Division Chief Vanita Gupta, who is now the CEO and president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.