The NAACP Legal Defense Fund on Thursday called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to bring back Raleigh lawyer and federal judicial nominee Thomas Farr before the panel to answer renewed questions about his role in the 1990 Jesse Helms campaign for U.S. Senate.
As the INDY reported yesterday
, Farr informed U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat, that he had no knowledge of a controversial postcard mailing to black residents in that year until he received a Department of Justice letter about it. But Gerald Hebert, a Department of Justice lawyer who was part of investigating the October 1990 event told the INDY
that Farr knew well before the mailing that it was going to take place. (He had given this reporter the same account in 2009.)
Federal judiciary nominee Thomas Farr
The Washington, D.C.-based Defense Fund cited Thursday's INDY
story about Farr in its call for action. Farr has denied being an advance part of a scheme to send more than one hundred thousand postcards to black voters to intimidate them from voting in a tight race against Harvey Gantt.
The Legal Defense Fund is opposing President Donald Trump's nomination of Farr as a Federal District judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina and that of another Trump nominee, Brett Talley, in the Middle District of Alabama.
"Farr appears to have explicitly misled the Senate about his role in a scheme to intimidate Black North Carolinians and stop them from voting in the 1990 midterm elections," the Defense Fund said in a statement.
Farr has not responded to a call or emails from the INDY
this week. Carter Wrenn, a longtime consultant to the Helms organization, repeated in a Thursday email an earlier response that Farr had not known about the postcards until he received Department of Justice correspondence concerning it.
The Helms campaign, with Farr signing as its attorney, and the North Carolina Republican Party signed a consent decree in 1992 in response to federal charges in the case. The defendants admitted no guilt.
The decree, dated February 27, 1992, reads: "The defendants, their officers, agents, employees, successors in interest, and persons acting in concert with any of the defendants, are enjoined from engaging in any activity or program which is designed, in whole or in part, to intimidate, threaten, coerce, deter, or otherwise interfere with a qualified voter's lawful exercise of the franchise or which, based on objective factors, would reasonably be expected to have that effect."
Today, Legal Defense Fund president and director-counsel Sherrilyn Ifill issued a statement as part of the group's release.
"Those selected for the judiciary are given a lifetime appointment, and are entrusted to adjudicate difficult legal disputes and fairly interpret the Constitution." Ifill wrote. "This tremendous responsibility requires candidates with unimpeachable qualifications as well as a clear commitment to honesty and the civil rights of all Americans. Recent media reports make clear that nominees Thomas Farr and Brett Talley [another federal court nominee
who used to be a paranormal investigator, only passed the bar three years ago, and is married to a senior lawyer in the White House] fail to meet these basic requirements."
The LDF dates to 1940, and since 1957 has been completely separate from the NAACP, although it shares the larger organization's goals.