Former Gov. Deval Patrick, U.S. Assistant Attorney General for civil rights during the Clinton Administration, has come out opposed to President-Elect Donald Trump's choice of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be the next Attorney General. Patrick outlined the case against Sessions in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will vet Sessions.
Patrick's letter details Sessions' role in a 1986 voter fraud case. The case involved three civil rights organizers who were accused of altering the absentee ballots of elderly voters. Patrick defended one of the accused when he was an attorney with the NAACP legal defense fund, and writes in the letter that Sessions abused his role as prosecutor in the course of pursuing the activists.
Patrick testified to the same Senate committee in 1986 that Sessions didn't have the legal temperament for a federal judgeship he had been nominated for, and was eventually rejected from.
Sessions has maintained that he acted appropriately in the case. And after what should be a intense confirmation process, is expected to win the approval of his Senate colleagues.
In the letter, Patrick characterized Sessions' pursuit of the so-called "Perry County Three" as "an act of extraordinary quasi-judicial activism," and Sessions, Patrick wrote, "... investigated only the black voters and only where white incumbents were losing political ground."
"For 30 years, I have viewed the prosecution of the Perry County Three as a cautionary tale. I believe it demonstrates what can happen when prosecutorial discretion if unchecked, when regard for facts is secondary to political objectives," Patrick wrote.
A spokesman for Bain Capital, the company where Patrick is a manager director, told WGBH News Patrick had no comment beyond the letter itself.
Here is Patrick's entire letter: