Q+A: David Iglesias
Appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico in 2001, Iglesias is the author of In Justice: Inside the Scandal That Rocked the Bush Administration, which tells the story of his December 2006 dismissal and that of eight other U.S. attorneys.
You spoke out against the firings to several media outlets in 2007, but what led you to write this book as well?
I wanted to establish that firings were unprecedented, and that the public should care that there was an attempt to politicize the Justice Department. There have been numerous steps to ensure that politics don't become part of the Justice Department rubric. To give it a little context, U.S. attorneys usually serve as long as the President. It's extremely uncommon that attorneys are fired. To the extent that that happens, it's for misconduct. In one year, they fired nine; in one day, the pushed out seven of us. I was one of those seven.
What do you believe led to your firing?
There were two major reasons why I was forced to resign. I did not prosecute any voter fraud cases. The Republican Party was convinced that there was massive voter fraud in New Mexico. I initially believed that was the case and set up a task force and a hotline. At the conclusion of over a year of reviewing the evidence, I didn't have one case I could prosecute. You can't indict people just for the fun of it. You have to have a provable case.
The second reason was that my office was investigating a very prominent politician for corruption. The case was taking a long time, as white-collar cases do. It would have had a political benefit to Heather Wilson, who was down in the polls about nine points. I didn't rush it, and my name was the last to be added to the fired list.
I had not been in any trouble with the Justice Department. I had had an evaluation, which was very, very positive. USA Today named me the fourth [most] productive U.S. attorney in the country. I knew objectively that performance wasn't the issue. I knew that the only possible option was politics. My book lays out the circumstantial evidence.
Did being a Christian make a difference during this time?
It was clear to me that wrong had occurred. I really believe there was an attempt to compromise me. A belief in God's sovereignty and clearly articulated right and wrong helped me speak out.
I obviously knew Romans 8:28, "All things work together," in my head. In my heart, I was like, "All right God, why did this happen?" I had no idea other U.S. attorneys were in ethical binds. I never questioned my faith, but I have to tell you, it was very difficult knowing that when I spoke out, it would have repercussions; it would burn bridges. If they were going to do it and pay no consequences, they were going to do it to other U.S. attorneys. I was extremely fortunate that there were other attorneys willing to speak out with me.
Where does the case stand now?
There are several legal investigations going on. None of us want our jobs back, but it's about an investigation to see if there were criminal laws broken. If the report corroborates the evidence, I'll ask for a written retraction — that the true basis of my termination was political.
Many evangelicals align themselves with the Republican Party and voted for President Bush in 2004. In light of what you have been through, should evangelicals start rethinking their political affiliations?
I think they should. I think evangelical Christians — not just at the national level but at the local — support candidates who reflect their values. Our values are biblical values, not the popular philosophy or the political soup of the day, so to speak. It should serve as a real wake-up call, and evangelicals should study the candidate and not think that if the Republicans say something, it's gospel truth.