Funny how sometimes your memory can cough up a huge piece of the puzzle when you least expect it.  I was reading through some work that Digby did over the weekend on the dirty tricks squad of oppo goons in Rove's Republican hack shop, when this persistent bit of information just leapt out at me and…whammo!:

Since rumors began circulating that Kasey Warner was leaving his federal post, the reasons suggested for his departure have included everything from an e-mail linking him to a political campaign to the fact that Warner is related to two other prominent Republicans, brothers Kris Warner, who resigned this year as chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party, and Monty Warner, the failed 2004 Republican gubernatorial nominee.

Attempts to contact Kasey Warner were unsuccessful.

Craigo told The State Journal that just before the 2002 general election, the state Republican Party began circulating press releases indicating that Craigo was under federal investigation. The press quickly picked up the story, and Craigo lost.

Now, two and a half years later, both Warners are out of their positions, and Craigo spoke about what he has learned since 2002.

Apparently, Lisa Smith's brother, who does not live in West Virginia, contacted Craigo and, "he said there was a connection" between Kris' goal of ousting Craigo and Kasey's position as U.S. attorney. When Kris Warner couldn't raise enough money for Smith's campaign, Craigo said the federal investigation rumors began.

"Kris supposedly spoke to a Wood County Republican rally and told them what was going to happen — the federal investigation — that it was going to occur before it even happened," Craigo said. "How else would he know that?"

Craigo has other evidence that the federal investigation, which turned up nothing, was a political move brought on by the Warners.

West Virginia politics has a history of backhanded, smarmy political maneuvers, and we have had our share of crooks and smarm merchants in both parties through the years. So trust me when I say that politics in my state is still done the old-fashioned way on soooooooo many levels. But the Warner brothers brought a whole new level of political ops to the mix and rumor has it, Kris Warner – ousted GOP state party chair – was willing to do pretty much anything asked of him by Karl Rove. And I do mean anything.

I was thinking about Kasey Warner having been ushered out of his USAtty position in the Southern District of WV just the other day.  I knew all about the backroom machinations rumors, and that the Warner name had become radioactive in Republican politics here, which was, supposedly, the rationale for asking Kasey Warner to step down from his USAtty position.  (And how would you like to be asked to leave your cushy Federal job because your brother caused such a stink with his election activities that the FEC had to step into the mix?  Nothing like publicly embarassing the Bush campaign at the last minute before the election to endear you to Karl Rove, eh?  Because he sure isn't the sort to get even with you for making a mistake…no siree.  Of course, it isn't the dirty tricks that were the problem — it was getting caught.)

But it wasn't until Digby's article that I put two and two together on the Craigo investigation, and all the rumors of dirty tricks that surrounded that particular investigation.

And again, what were the Pat Robertson' U grad Goodling's primary qualifications before joining the Department of Justice? She worked with Barbara Comstock and Timothy Griffin (the US Attorney from Arkansas who Rove pushed through under the patriot act) at the Bush Cheney oppo research department in 2000.

It doesn't automatically make her a criminal, but it sure stinks of unethical politicization of the Justice Department.

I heard Orrin Hatch filibuster for what seemed like hours this morning on Meet the Press about how there wasn't a "shred of evidence" that there was any wrongdoing. Well, except for the totally unethical phone calls by Domenichi and Iglesias and the US Attorneys' publicly stated suspicion that they were let go for partisan political reasons, I suppose not. But they need to lay off the tequila if they actually expect to get the benefit of the doubt about their good intentions after they populated the Justice Department with dirty tricksters in extremely sensitive jobs.

Many of us were told to pipe down when we complained that the Justice Department and the NSA had been involved in spying on Americans with no oversight. But now that we know that Barbara Comstock, Monica Goodling and Tim Griffin, Karl Rove's personal smear artists, were promoted to the highest reaches of the federal police agencies with access to records on their political opponents and every other American, then it's clear that we weren't suspicious enough. At this point, I think we have to assume that with these people in charge and having the use of all the new powers of the Patriot Act, there have been no limits at all on the partisan, political use of the government's investigative powers.

I am no longer confused about why Monica Goodling took the fifth. I have little doubt that there are many crimes that took place and she's not taking any chances. This is bigger than the US Attorney scandal.

Pach talked about Goodling as well on Saturday, and it is worth noting that Barbara Comstock just keeps turning up amidst the fetid swampland of Republican dirty tricksters.  But it was this ongoing pattern of behavior, and one that happened in my own backyard, that caught my eye in one of the pieces that Digby quoted. 

And then…bing!…that light went on about all the rumors of Rove's shop pressuring USAtty offices to target local and state officials who had the ability to do voter turnout and other crucial party infrastructure work.  And how distracting a criminal prosecution on a political corruption charge could be — not just for that one person, but for the entire party apparatus in a heavily Democratic voting area.   And now I've begun to wonder just how many more of these individual links there are out there to fit into the pattern of corruption. 

Real election fraud or political corruption needs to be targeted to the fullest extent of the law.  But a charge which is trumped up, for publicity purposes, right before an election?  That's political corruption of a whole different sort, now isn't it? Let's take a little time and search our collective memories today — and see what we can all dig up from our own back yards.  Because I am sensing, in a very sincere and substantial way, that there are a whole lot of political corruption skeletons that need to come out of the closet.  How about you guys? 

(And in case you are wondering:  when you look at the electoral map, WV is a "leans blue" state, which puts it firmly into play in Karl's version of "the math."