Richard Pilger: DOJ Election Fraud Bureau Chief Resigns Over Barr Memo

Richard Pilger

Getty U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 15, 2019 in Washington, DC.

The Justice Department’s Head of Election Crimes has resigned in response to Attorney General William Barr’s call to federal prosecutors to examine election voter fraud claims following the 2020 presidential election.

Richard Pilger, former director of the elections crimes branch in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, warned colleagues on November 9 that Barr was issuing “an important new policy abrogating the forty-year-old Non-Interference Policy for ballot fraud investigations in the period prior to elections becoming certified and uncontested,” according to emails obtained by The New York Times.

Pilger, who has worked in the position for 10 years, also added his resignation letter, the newspaper said.

“Having familiarized myself with the new policy and its ramification, I must regretfully resign from my role as director of election crimes branch,” he wrote in the email, according to NYT.

The Attorney General previously told prosecutors “they could take investigative steps such as interviewing witnesses during a period that they would normally need permission from the elections crimes section,” CNN added.

Barr’s initiative comes at a time when President Donald Trump has repeatedly argued voter fraud interfered with the November 3 presidential race, including in several key battleground states.

“The memo marked a step into President Trump’s disinformation campaign about voting,” NPR disclosed. “Former DOJ officials criticized the memo as partisan and as validating Trump’s claims that there are substantial voter irregularities.”

PIN Deputy Chief Robert J. Heberle will take over as Head of Election Crimes, according to Pilger’s resignation email.

Here’s what you need to know about Richard Pilger:

1. As the Elections Crime Branch Director, Pilger Was Responsible for Prosecuting Illegal Campaign Finance Coordination Efforts

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As the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice Elections Crime Branch Director, Pilger was responsible for prosecuting illegal campaign finance coordination efforts, Ballotpedia reported.

The division “develops, enforces, and supervises the application of all federal criminal laws except those specifically assigned to other divisions,” according to the criminal division’s web page.

Pilger served in the position since 2010, his LinkedIn page states.


2. Pilger Has Over 25 Years of Legal Experience

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Since graduating from the Indiana University School of Law, Pilger has amassed over 25 years of legal experience, the Practicing Law Institute said.

He started as a law clerk to the to the Honorable James T. Moody, “a United States District Court Judge sitting both in the Northern District of Indiana and by designation on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit,” PLI continued.

Pilger later entered the Justice Department through the Attorney General’s Honors Program, before joining the Public Integrity Section, the Institute disclosed.


3. Pilger Attended the University of Notre Dame & Indiana University School of Law

According to his LinkedIn, Pilger pursued an undergraduate education at the University of Notre Dame from 1983 to 1987. He studied philosophy and English, the website continued.

Pilger later attended law school at Indiana University Bloomington and graduated in 1990, his LinkedIn says.

HITC reported that Pilger was born in 1965 and is 55 years old.


4. In 2013, Pilger Faced Backlash Stemming From an IRS Targeting Controversy

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Pilger in 2013 faced criticism after emails “showed him allegedly discussing plans with the IRS to look into tax-exempt organizations who had been involved politically after claiming on their taxes they wouldn’t,” HITC said.

The New York Post reported that Pilger and the investigation were accused of being biased against Republican organizations.

“On May 14, 2013, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General reported that the IRS had ‘used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions,'” the newspaper disclosed.


5. Pilger Has Received Numerous Awards for His Corruption Prosecutions

Pilger has received varying awards for his corruption prosecutions, the Practicing Law Institute disclosed.

The Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award and the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Outstanding Trial Advocacy were among those listed by the Institute.

Some of Pilger’s “notable cases” he handled prior to “assuming duties for election crimes,” according to PIL, include:

United States v. Spargo, N.D.N.Y. (judicial extortion); United States v. Siegelman & Scrushy, et al., (M.D. Al.) (former Governor and former CEO of HealthSouth convicted of bribery and obstruction of justice); United States v. Plowman, (S.D. Ind.) (Indianapolis city council and police extortion); United States v. Zachares, (D.D.C.) (former senior congressional staffer convicted of honest services fraud involving Jack Abramoff); United States v. West, et al., (E.D. Va.) (fraud and bank theft ring operated by CIA employees); United States v. Carroll, et al., (N.D. Ill.) (first modern conviction of U.S. Foreign Service Officer for overseas bribery conspiracy)

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