Vote Fraud in Clay County and the Hanged Census Worker

By now, you’ve probably heard the horrible story about the census worker and teacher found hanged in Clay County, KY with the word "fed" written on his chest.

Before we assume that this apparent homicide was a response solely to the attacks Michele Bachmann and others have made on the census, it’s worth recalling how Clay County made news earlier this year, when a bunch of local officials were indicted for vote fraud.

The United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation jointly announced today that five Manchester, Ky. officials, including the circuit court judge, the county clerk, and election officers were arrested pursuant to a federal indictment that accused them of using corrupt tactics to obtain political power and personal gain.

The 10-count indictment, unsealed today, accused the defendants of a conspiracy from March 2002 until November 2006 that violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). RICO is a federal statute that prosecutors use to combat organized crime. The defendants were also indicted for extortion, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to injure voters’ rights and conspiracy to commit voter fraud.

According to the indictment, these alleged criminal actions affected the outcome of federal, local, and state primary and general elections in 2002, 2004, and 2006. The indictment accused the defendants of the following criminal actions.

Those indicted include a Circuit Court Judge, the school superintendent, the County Clerk, and an election officer (as well as other locals). That trial is currently set for early next year, though they’re in the middle of discovery right now, with the defendants trying to get the grand jury testimony.

In other words, in Clay County, the federal government is in the middle of prosecuting a number of top county officials for completely corrupting the voting system.

While there’s no more reason to believe Sparkman’s death is connected to this case than that it is connected to Bachmann’s inflammatory statements, it should at least caution us against leaping to conclusions. There may well be very localized reasons why people in Clay County don’t want the federal government going door-to-door.

180 replies
  1. fatster says:

    Kudos to you for this! There are so many dots out there to connect, that all of us need to heed your advice and be mindful that the human mind does want to connect dots. I guess we’re hard-wired for that. Your connecting of dots is always backed up by solid evidence, including from those weedy fields that you are constantly combing for data. Thanks ever so much for your wise words of caution.

  2. scribe says:

    There’s a lot of reasons for looking at the story with both an open mind and a lot of caution about coming to a Beck/Drudge/anti-Obama conclusion as the first choice (and one most people will stick with).

    As noted in this article posted by Will Bunch (of AttyTood and the Philadelphia Daily News), the county in which this took place is the poorest in Kentucky (median income of something like $9,700/year – that’s saying something) and quite possibly the poorest in Appalachia. (NB, aside: Funny, how political corruption and general poverty seem to go hand in hand. Given the state of DC and it’s corruption, we could all wind up like the folks in KY.) Will then notes this post, over at Chicago Reader, and its reference, in turn to a Harpers’ article (Behind a wall, sadly).

    I’d be wary before jumping to conclusions on this: the Daniel Boone National Forest is a hotbed for pot growers and meth labs and archaeological looters (Harper’s—subscribers only, alas) and there’s a distrust of anyone considered connected to the federal government, including Forest Rangers and local cops.

    This is the roughest part of Appalachia—48% illiteracy rate, below-poverty incomes, high morbidity rates. A common attitude is that the government has abandoned the people while spending its money on the drug war.

    So I’d be more comfortable seeing it as what happens when you have a poor-as-dirt local community that’s already set up to see the federal government as the enemy, in a climate where Census workers are being cast as Obama stormtroopers.

    As that article notes, the area where this took place is full of all sorts of people who don’t want anyone from the government coming around for any reason – meth cookers, pot growers, Mexican drug-gang affiliates, archaeological looters (who knew?) and (I speculate) moonshiners, too. Any one or more of them could have been behind this.

    So, let’s keep a cool head about it.

      • Leen says:

        used to be lots of those in KY

        from moonshine to pot…..ted-states

        Been up many a “holler” in KY Ohio, West Virginia. (was a Vista /volunteer/ worker back in the late 60’s) Back woods Scots Irish, incredible folk lore, survival skills, many many Vets of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, artist, writers and old farming families.

        Berea and Berea college a treasure (was part of a group that worked with and stimulated local artisans to become members of the oldest Arts and Crafts guild in that area)

        Rich history but some scary thinking too

          • Leen says:

            Am well aware. Live in one of the heavy growing areas of Ohio

            The Feds have been doing a hell of a job wiping out this agricultural industry in both states. During the 80’s they were almost flying their helicoptors into peoples living rooms. I wonder if in both states still the leading cash crop

            did you go to see the Mad as Hell Doctors they stopped at four different spots in your neighborhood. Did their stops make the news in your neighborhood? Talked with their media team..they feel they are being ignored by the media. Did make it on the Ed Show the other night

            • BoxTurtle says:

              Nothing they’ve done in Ohio has hurt the quality of weed and the price has been stable for years.

              Boxturtle (so I’m told, third hand, by people I’ve never met before)

              • Leen says:

                exactly (a smoker for a short time in my life) Reality is enough for me to try to deal with) without adding a fog to observe it through. Lots of friends who still smoke..Doctors..Lawyers…Teachers etc etc.

                Interesting how this substance can turn some into couch slugs and not so for others. Stand firm that the same rules that apply to Alcohol should apply to marijuana. Have watched too many young people (who are all ready dealing with the hormone dance) have their lives effected in a negative way by smoking some of the very powerful marijuana grown the last several decades. Turns some young and old folks into Alzheimers candidates

                …did you go see Mad as hell Doctors

                • BoxTurtle says:

                  I didn’t, completely forgot about it. But I can confirm that they got almost no media coverage here.

                  Boxturtle (hangs head in shame)

            • BoxTurtle says:

              Pot is down to #3 in Ohio…hmm, soybean prices must be up.

              Boxturtle (But #1 nationwide. Let’s hear it for the War on Drugs!)

      • BoxTurtle says:

        A very good bet. In the old days, it would have been a moonshiner.

        Boxturtle (I’m actually suprised they found a body. Normally, it’s shoot, shovel, and shut up)

        • AZ Matt says:

          Hanged from a tree with fed written on his body doesn’t exactly sound like someone was trying to keep this quiet.

          • BoxTurtle says:

            I agree. And like I said, I’m suprised. The Moonshiner/pot grower would NOT likely do that, they’d rather have a mystery. And they wouldn’t likely kill unless their crop/still was threatened.

            Boxturtle (But they would kill without hesitation under that condition)

          • scribe says:

            There are two aspects to this.
            1. Whoever did this sent a message to the federal government: “enter at risk of fatal injury”.
            2. Given the public nature of the message being sent, the message to shut up was directed at the locals who might know something about something. I.e., if the perps shot, shoveled and shut up, the message in #1 never would have been clearly communicated to the feds, and the locals might have talked. This cows the locals into joining a conspiracy of silence.

            My money’s on Mexican drug gangs or the local pols who are under indictment for vote fraud.

  3. BoxTurtle says:

    I’d also point out that distrust of the government has always been VERY strong in that area. It’s not something new that the wingnuts just stirred up, it’s always been there. Government workers who feel that they can question people without warrants in their own houses are new the top of the hate list, exceeded only by BATF agents.

    I doubt this was related to vote fraud. The conversation likely went something like this.

    CW: Sir, I’m from the census bureau.
    Citizen: Git offa my land.
    CW: Sir, it’s just a few questions.
    Citizen: GIT OFFA MY LAND!
    CW: Sir, you’re rquired by law to answer.
    Citizen: GIT OFFA MY LAND. MAW! Fetch mah shootin arn!

    And it went downhill from there. The cops shouldn’t expect much help from the locals and the feds shouldn’t expect much help from the cops.

    Boxturtle (Need to find a way to do the census that doesn’t piss people off)

  4. Leen says:

    “Original reports of Sparkman’s death did not note the “fed” scrawling.”

    “While authorities seem unclear on the exact reason for Bill Sparkman’s death, Census Bureau Executive Director Dr. Robert Groves, while notifying census employees of the incident by e-mail, seemed quite sure it was a crime.”

    “Suicide would have seemed unlikely, if only because Bill Sparkman, who was also a substitute teacher, had also beaten non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He was even profiled in a 2008 piece, which described how he entered teaching, first by volunteering at his son’s school because of difficulties his son faced in the classroom.

    Bill Sparkman worked for the Census since 2003. He covered five counties in the surrounding area. Officials indicated that much of his recent work had been in Clay County.”…..-his-chest

    • rosalind says:

      “No one was ever waterboarded at Gitmo,” said Army Col. Bruce E. Vargo, commander of the Joint Detention Group.


    • Leen says:

      Refuse to read

      this woman has her head up where the sun does not shine. Judy “I was fucking right” Miller is partially responsible for the deaths and injuries of hundreds of thousands..millions of refugees.

      In my book this woman is a psycho path (The psychopath is defined by an uninhibited gratification in criminal, sexual, or aggressive impulses and the inability to learn from past mistakes.[11][12][13] Individuals with this disorder gain satisfaction through their antisocial behavior and lack remorse for their actions.)

      She could care less about the people she helped kill

      • posaune says:

        I still want to know about the connection between Judy Judy and David Kelly (?), the UK scientist who was suicided. His last email was to Judy Judy. Blood on her hands thousands of times over.

        • Leen says:

          Since it appears that our Reps could give a rats ass about who created, disseminated all of the false pre war intelligence. They have more important issues to check into than what led us into a war based on a “pack of lies” resulting in hundreds of thousands of people dead, injured and millions displaced.

          They have to go pick some ACORNS since they don’t have any Presidents blow jobs to investigate

  5. ART45 says:

    I rule out pot growers, Mexican gangs, and moonshiners. The guy was going door-to-door, not tromping around in the wilderness.

    Seems to me the method of his execution and the fact that he was targeted were meant to send a message — a message to everyone local that corrupt local forces, not the federal government, control the area.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      In that area, door to door and tromping through the wilderness are the same thing.

      The Williams cabin (8 residents, no power or phone) is located up the dirt road, cross the creek, take the second left fork, then the first right. Go till you can’t drive no more, then hike about another mile. They’re right there.

      Boxturtle (But take the wrong fork and you end up in Billybob’s pot field)

      • Leen says:

        “door to door” can mean knocking on doors in the Appalachian hills and in new developments, and neighborhoods in the towns and cities of Kentucky

        Not only “billy bob’s…Ashton, former high yield tobacco farmer flip to growing pot folks too. Real variety of folks living in KY.

        Witnessed local farmers, electricians etc switching to pot growing back in the 70’s 80’s

    • Hawkgirl says:

      The guy was going door-to-door, not tromping around in the wilderness.

      Let’s be clear on what kind of Census work he was doing. He most likely was not going door-to-door as most people imagine Census work. He was most likely working on the American Community Survey (ACS) or another one of the smaller surveys the Census Bureau works also on. The respondents for these surveys are randomly selected within communities, so he wasn’t doing work on the whole neighborhood. He was most likely making an in-person visit on just one house nearby. Whomever he was visiting had received notice that they were selected for this survey and ignored two copies sent via the mail.

  6. plunger says:

    A frightening story, and we obviously all feel bad for this innocent man’s family. I’m quite certain it had nothing to do with him – and the motive is more about the deep hatred toward one of the following:

    I guess it makes some sense to question whether the word FED was intended to refer to “The Fed” – as in Federal Reserve Bank (which is neither Federal, nor does it have any Reserves, nor is it a Bank), or in the more broad context of a government employee working for the actual Federal Government.

    I suspect that there were some officials at the Federal Reserve who took it to heart with some trepidation, but regardless, people are being pushed to wits-end by a force they cannot fully comprehend, as the right incites them to violence. The push-back appears to be at hand.

  7. tejanarusa says:

    Hmm, interesting how many of us here have roots or other ties to the area. Me, too – my father’s side of the family hails from West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, too.

    I’m glad, (well, that’s not exactly the right word), maybe a little relieved, that this crime (yeah, it’s a crime- suicide? not likely) may have more local roots than the recent national poltiical insanity.
    I’m curious about the party affiliation of the indictees – not mentioned in the DOJ announcement linked to. Or are those offices “non-partisan?”

    The parallel with moonshiners and “revenuers” makes a lot of sense, too.

    About 30 years ago, my then-husband and I were traveling to old home places in Va and WVa with my parents. My dad drove us out to see get a glimpse of the farm where his father was born. We walked across a creek to the bottom of a field from where we could see the old house some distance away, and my father waved us to stop.
    He said that was as far as it was safe to go, because the current owners didn’t know us, and might choose to shoot first and ask questions later.
    That made an impression on me that stories and cartoons about moonshiners and revenooers never quite did.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      In W. Va, as children we were taught to go to the fence and hollar. Best way to think about it as that the concept of “house” extends all the way to the property line. Just like you wouldn’t enter a strangers house without knocking and being invited.

      If you weren’t government or such, the normal response to a hollar is “Morning to ya. C’mon up”. Friendly folks, just different customs.

      Boxturtle (Never once got shot at)

      • Leen says:

        Protecting your Moonshine still, Pot fields, Meth Labs, voter fraud etc etc can sometimes bring out the big guns or dark side.

        Hell in the early 80’s I went to an International Ginseng conference in Kentucky. Lots of workshops and Ginseng people from around the world. The methods described to protect cultivated ginseng patches in Kentucky and elsewhere (lots of Ky ginseng growers attending) were alarming and some violent. From digging trenches with false traps for ginseng theives, Dobermans’ Rottweillers, guns etc.

        If Sparkman uncovered a meth lab…well

      • tejanarusa says:

        Hi, BoxTurtle – didn’t realize you had WVa roots, too. I was born there, but we moved to Va, then Ind. when I was very small. My dad, though, was born and raised in Fayette Co. Grampa’s birthplace was near Ronceverte, where we had our little brief, distant visit. Long, long time even then since that property had been in the family.

        • Leen says:

          I think West Virginia is one of the most beautiful states going. While I support eco tourism biking,etc. When you ask workers at Snowshoe how much they make even after working for the ski corporations for 25 years it is pathetic what they make..along with all of the other service industry folks

          The Unions being beat back really hurt workers in regions struggling for jobs

          • tejanarusa says:

            Yep. We visited it enough for me to feel the mountains are in my blood, though most of my near relatives have passed on, and their descendants, like my father, left to find work.His family had been there since the late 1700’s. He tried to make a living as a small-town lawyer (GI Bill law school) after the war; took a job with an insurance company (I know, I know) as an adjuster, which allowed him to get to know his own state very very well, travelled all over. There was no tiny hamlet or holler you could name in WVa that he hadn’t been to. I can’t say the same for myself.
            But Daddy got me a subscription to Wonderfmul West Virginia years ago that I keep up – look at the gorgeous pix , makes me homesick for a home I left more than 50 years ago.

            • Leen says:

              Have even taken my 82 year old mother mountain bike riding in Snowshoe..they have flat trails along the river Unbelievably gorgeous. Have done a lot of hiking, biking, run a kids camp in summer take a pack of kids down to the New River for mountain biking and rafting for 15 summers.

              so so gorgeous the New River one of the oldest rivers in the world


              The pay scale for eco tourism is often pathetic

              Sounds like it is time to take a trip and renew your roots and connection to West Virginia. Lots of B & B’s on those mountain roads now. Great camping sites.

              • tejanarusa says:

                I would dearly love to – the problem is always money, sometimes time – when I travel these days it’s to visit my 91 yr old mom, usually to help her solve a problem. Sigh. Also 20 yrs marriage to a Texan who can’t stand to fly…but that’s another story…

                re the B*B’s etc , and tourism – I was flabbergasted to see a piece in WWVA mag a few years ago showing gourmet restaurants and foodie places, whitewater rafting outfits in Fayetteville, my dad’s hometown. When I was visiting, the place was as quiet and countryfied as you could imagine.
                The New River Bridge hadn’t even been built; but we always always stopped at Hawk’s Nest State Park for the overlook over the River. That view is the iconic mental picture of “my real home” to me.

                • Leen says:

                  Fayetteville has been somewhat taken over by the Kayakers, rafters canoeist,`bikers, climbers in the summer. Some crazy ass canoeist going down class 5’s on the New River and Gauley. So damn beautiful.

                  Two summers ago as I was having one of the camp vehicles worked on just outside of Fayetteville off of the fancy new highway 19. Several of the “old boys’ working on the vehicle told me that I was crazy to take the camp kids down the New (always with guides) River that summer. It was I believe 10 feet up above its normal level that summer. They told me that as kids they used to call the New River the “River of Death” and one of them told me that their daddy used to whip their asses if they ever got near the river when it was up. We all laughed and I told these gentleman that one of my legs was a couple of inches longer than when I had come in because they had been pulling on it so hard.

                  Anyway they put the fear of the river in me that day and I decided to for the first time not take the kids down due to the rivers height at that time. Not hard to convince the kids since they were beat to hell from a mountain bike ride the day before.

                  there are so many white water rafting companies on the New and Gauley you can barely count them

                  Cathedral Cafe and Bookstore is where most of the bikers etc eat.
                  great food and environment

                  • tejanarusa says:

                    The sandwiches and milkshakes were excellent. So were the quesadillas (yes!).

                    Quesadillas down the street from my Scots-Irish grandparents’ home. (quote from the Cathedral Cafe link)
                    My head is swimming…may have to re-think my entire worldview…..

                    Obviously, time has not stood still in Fayetteville….

                    Not sure I want to visit and completely up-end all my childhood memories….; )
                    Do you still live in the area, Leen, or just go for summers with the ‘kids?”

              • tejanarusa says:

                Oooh – checked out your link – what great pictures!
                I love the irony of the New River being maybe the oldest….and, hey, scroll down a little, and there’s another Good Thinng Bill Clinton did.*g*

                (pardon the typos, pls, am typing across a cat between me and laptop)

                  • tejanarusa says:

                    Hey, hey, dont’ call me a Texan! of course, this week I’ve been here 25 years, but it wasn’t exactly planned that way…
                    my younger self would never believe it if she could have seen the future.

                    (on edit) Ummmm, no offense to other Texans here….it’s just that today I’m feeling my mountain roots…

                    • tejanarusa says:

                      Oh. that is true. I’m only Texan by marriage.

                      EW, so sorry, didn’t mean to hijack your thread with nostalgia…this is not Late Night, after all.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Doing it right takes knowledge and practice. Putting a rope around someones neck and dropping them off the tailgate takes a rope and a tailgate.

      Boxturtle (Doubts seriously it was done right)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I suspect it can be done without practice, just a lot of anger and a rope. Doesn’t even have to be properly tied with an uneven number of turns on the hangman’s noose, since those relate to efficiency, not the end product. I suppose one could practice with dogs or cats, or it might come naturally from experience field dressing game. But it does require a callous rage that will make investigating this (and possibly related crimes) dangerous work. Since this could be the tip of a rage iceberg, it bears watching.

        • Leen says:

          This is odd

          ““The law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and requested anonymity, did not say what type of instrument was used to write the word on the chest of Sparkman, who was supplementing his income doing Census field work. He was found Sept. 12 in a remote patch of Daniel Boone National Forest and an autopsy report is pending.”


          • maryo2 says:

            TPM is reporting that MSNBC is claiming witthout naming a soure that the word was written with a marker.

            TPM is also saying death occurred on the morning of the 11th. If he was found on the 12th, then how decomposed could the body have been? Claims are that the man’s mother was told cremation is the way to go because of decomposition. That doesn’t make sense.

            • prostratedragon says:

              Additional delay in getting the body stored properly? Someone maybe not fully informed speaking out of turn to the family? Hate to think of trying to improperly influence someone, especially a person dealing with shock etc., on top of the rest of the ugliness.

  8. Leen says:

    On EW’s topic

    Feds probe US Census worker hanging in Kentucky
    By DEVLIN BARRETT and JEFFREY McMURRAY, Associated Press Writers Devlin Barrett And Jeffrey Mcmurray, Associated Press Writers – 24 mins ago

    MANCHESTER, Ky. – When Bill Sparkman told retired trooper Gilbert Acciardo that he was going door-to-door collecting census data in rural Kentucky, the former cop drew on years of experience for a warning: “Be careful.”

    “The law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and requested anonymity, did not say what type of instrument was used to write the word on the chest of Sparkman, who was supplementing his income doing Census field work. He was found Sept. 12 in a remote patch of Daniel Boone National Forest and an autopsy report is pending.

    Manchester, the main hub of the southeastern Kentucky county, is an exit off the highway, with a Walmart, a few hotels, chain restaurants and a couple gas stations. The drive away from town and toward the area where Sparkman’s body was found goes through sparsely populated forest with no streetlights, on winding roads that run up and down steep hills.

    Manchester Police Chief Jeff Culver, whose agency is not part of the investigation because the death was outside city limits, said the area where Sparkman was found has a history of problems with prescription drug and methamphetamine trading.”…..ker_hanged

    Meth is big in these parts…

    Had some metal stolen off my property these last few years. This was after I hired a couple of young Appalachian folks (in their lat 20’s) who were in a treatment program for their addictions. After that my property some how became fair game for metal thieves.

    As I went to the junk yards in this region checking for the goods stolen (no kidding found them) and then prosecuted the thief who was a user. As I talked with the young folks I had hired, their mother and others turns out much of the metal thieving profit were for buying meth.

    Real problem in these parts

    • Leen says:

      ““That part of the county, it has its ups and downs. We’ll get a lot of complaints of drug activity. They’ll whittle away, then flourish back up,” Culver said. He said officers last month rounded up 40 drug suspects, mostly dealers, and made several more arrests in subsequent days.”…..5002.shtml

  9. TarheelDem says:

    So we have a circuit court judge, which in Kentucky pretty much runs a rural county, under indictment for voter fraud.

    We have moonshining, marijuana growing, and possibly meth labs.

    We have a traditional distrust of the federal (and state) government.

    We have inter-family and intra-family feuds.

    We have an area with a history of violent opposition to unionization and unions

    We have a county that is very poor, has few prospects right now, and a variety of what urban folk call hustles in order to make a living.

    We have an upcoming census that can change representation in state houses and Congress.

    We have a media campaign to paint the Census as big snoops (while ignoring sneak-and-peak and warrantless wiretapping)

    We have a Census worker who is also a schoolteacher and a single dad.

    And we’re trying to single out one and only one reason why he might have been killed in a lynching tableau.

    You know, none of us can do that unless we have relatives in Clay County who can give us the rumors.

    • dakine01 says:

      So we have a circuit court judge, which in Kentucky pretty much runs a rural county, under indictment for voter fraud.

      Actually the Circuit Court Judge = District Court in other states. I.e., Circuit court is an actual court and the judge is an actual judge.

      You are confusing Circuit with “County Judge/Executive” which is the “CEO” of the county if you will and runs the county. County Judge/Executives no longer exercise any actual judicial powers (altho years ago they could pronounce sentence on traffic violations and small misdemeanors).

  10. Leen says:

    More than likely linked into Meth, oxycotin or the sales of these drugs involved.

    Labs all over the place in these Appalachian hills

    Kentucky Meth lab list

    Don’t see any in Manchester County

    Epidemic of Oxycontin Addiction Leads to Kentucky Lawsuit
    The Kentucky State Attorney General’s Office says that in 2006, 16% of all the drug overdoses in the state could be attributed to Oxycontin. The Attorney General also claims that abuse of prescription drugs is so widespread in Kentucky that at least one county jail had to undergo a multi-million dollar expansion to deal with a spike in crime that followed the wave of Oxycontin addiction.

  11. WilliamOckham says:

    I was a ‘pre-census’ worker in the summer of 1979 in Nebraska. My job was to verify names and addresses in rural Nebraska. I was assigned an area and went to every known address and asked if the same people still lived there (they almost always did; not much mobility in rural Nebraska). I was threatened with violence on more than one occasion, always after identifying myself as a census worker. Being a naive teen-age male, I never really felt scared, but I probably should have. I particularly remember one old lady (she was probably in her 50’s, but when you’re 19 that seems old…) who tried to intimidate me by cutting the head off a chicken with an axe while I watched. Little did she know that I’d seen my grandmother wring a chicken’s neck every other week when I was six.

    Any way, this is more than just nostalgia. There really is a deep antipathy towards the Feds and the census in particular in rural America. Michele Bachmann didn’t invent it; she’s just taking advantage of it. I agree we shouldn’t jump to conclusions in this case, but, based on my personal experience, I find the ‘murdered because of census work’ theory plausible. Let’s hope that the locals figure out who did it, why, and bring that person to justice (assuming it’s not a suicide which is also a plausible theory at this point).

    • TarheelDem says:

      There really is a deep antipathy towards the Feds and the census in particular in rural America.

      Might that be from a visceral understanding that as the country grows rural areas matter less and less in the politics in Washington. Rural areas have seen consolidation of Congressional Districts to offset the boom states who are gaining representatives.

      In the Mountain West, the federal government is the landlord for a whole lot of people, and is treated as such.

      During the 2000 Census, Confederate Revivalists made the same argument about not filling out Census forms because the federal government was prying into your business. This is not new. Oh, the president for that Census — Bill Clinton.

    • Leen says:

      I would put money on that the hills of Appalachia are different than the rural areas of Nebraska. Not that I have explored the Nebraska rural areas, but I have worked, walked in the foothills and holler of Appalachia and talked with hundreds of the folks who live in these hills.

      This is a world unto it’s own with a rich history and some damn independent, industrious and often talented (crafts, mechanical skills, farmers etc) folks. The dark side of this independence is making money by alternative means moonshine, pot and a decade or so ago…this meth lab world and then folks using oxycotin as a recreational (escape from poverty) drug

  12. Leen says:

    This is kind of interesting about Clay County

    “MANCHESTER, Ky.—John Becknell enters the courtroom and finds his usual spot in the front row, just behind the prosecutor’s table. Becknell—a devout Christian known to many as “Brother John”—pulls out a pen and an inch-thick docket, mostly of drug and alcohol cases. For the next three hours, he takes diligent notes on the judge’s actions, the attendance of police officers, repeat offenders making another appearance, and so on. The purpose? To make sure drug offenders in eastern Kentucky are getting what they deserve.”

    “Now they’re more interested in law enforcement. The Community Church of Manchester is leading the way through “Court Watch,” a program in which volunteers attend court hearings to monitor judges overseeing drug-related cases.”…..thread=263

  13. perris says:

    don’t know if this is mentioned yet but it looks like the federal worker was warned by former law enforcement that he was in danger

    The census worker found hanged with “fed” scrawled on his chest was apparently warned beforehand by a retired state trooper that “he might meet up with some folks who aren’t too fond of people from the government showing up on their doorsteps,” according to Ted Werbin, news director for WHAS radio in Louisville, Kentucky.

  14. Leen says:

    trying to find anything about these folks records with other issues in Clay county

    Brad blog

    KY Election Officials Arrested, Charged With ‘Changing Votes at E-Voting Machines’
    Circuit court judge, county clerk, and election officials among eight indicted for gaming elections in 2002, 2004, 2006

    • maryo2 says:

      From that Bradblog link:

      iVotronic system …[is]…currently in use in some 419 jurisdictions in 18 states including Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

      Are ALL of those states ‘purple’ states of great importance to the GOP? I mean literally, every single one of them! Whoa.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The feds, and not just IRS agents trying to close down illegal liquor stills, must be an unwelcome sight in this part of Kentucky. Lots of folks would be upset over these indictments, either because the crimes alleged happened in their county or because the feds cut-in to lucrative businesses. The latter would more likely be among the usual suspects in such a crime. It could also be a hate crime, or an elaborate and grotesque murder.

    It does seem likely that this is a federal crime, not a state murder rap, because it appears intentionally directed at someone because of their work for or status as an employee of the federal government.

    • tejanarusa says:

      Earl, not disputing your main point, but a quibble – “revenuers” (f that term is still used) are not from the IRS, but ATF, or its predecessors. Remember, “Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.”

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Not when the term was first used. The principal alleged crime in making one’s own distilled liquor was that it evaded stiff government taxes, a complaint that goes back in American at least the 18th century. The ATF, or whatever arm of the Heimatsicherheitsdienst it’s been rolled into, is of more recent origin than the IRS, itself not the original agency this term would have applied to. It’s a distinction those opposed to paying the tax wouldn’t care about. I would also note that time in certain parts of Appalachia may well travel at a different pace than elsewhere.

        • Leen says:

          “I would also note that time in certain parts of Appalachia may well travel at a different pace than elsewhere.”

          Like no other place that I have lived.

          Nothing compares to Appalachia in the states that I have experienced except parts of Arkansas and southern Missouri.

          Combined with the beauty, independence of the people, isolation, struggle for work..history of being taken advantage of (mining, company towns, loss of jobs, poverty, desperation, drugs) Bobby Kennedy, Jessie Jackson have tried to bring attention to these issues and these areas

          • freepatriot says:

            Nothing compares to Appalachia in the states that I have experienced except parts of Arkansas and southern Missouri


            never been to Appalachia, but I been to the Ozarks

            (cue the banjo)

            somebody said something about a different speed ???

            forget that

            we’re talkin a whole other type of vehicle

            you wanna see some extremes, travel thru Las Vegas on your way to Branson Missouri

            being a dedicated Cali DFH, you could say I kinda stuck out like a sore thumb in Arkansas

  16. cinnamonape says:

    EW- not sure how the indictments of local gov’t officials would tie into this. Census information wouldn’t do much to definitively establish fraud even though it’s used for establishing size of Districts and their boundaries in reapportionment. The information is statistical, and only collected in ten year intervals. Because the demographics of an area can change immensely over that time with people moving in, or out, it likely would be the poorest of barometers to indicate someone was “padding votes” based on the 2000 census.

    The police have been tight-lipped about this but have indicated it’s a homicide…not a suicide. And the actions of the census bureau itself, shutting down operations in Clay Co. for well over a week, signals that this is someone going after Federal workers. The authorities don’t think it’s an isolated attack unrelated to his employment. If it was a lovers spat or a personal dispute why shut down the Census???

    I do agree that this looks as if someone was trying to send a message to people involved in the Federal Government not to “come around” {but clearly not someone smart enough to realize that killing a census worker will have the opposite effect], or was some idiotic act of rebellion against imagined “jack-booted thugs”. The possibility that we aren’t dealing with the brightest bulbs in the village might also be indicated that whoever did this left the census computer in Sparkman’s car. That’s going to provide a data-base of his whereabouts, contacts, and potential eye-witnesses. Collected data will go up to certain addresses and then stop. Unless he was not involved in his census duties when attacked that should be extremely valuable.

    Every indication is that these are people who don’t realize that census takers are the least likely of Federal workers to report illegal information acquired in their surveys. The don’t report illegal immigrants, peoples “jobs” to law enforcement, tax cheats, code violations, etc. Whoever wrote “Fed” on Bill Sparkman was lashing out at something they have been miseducated about for a long time, fueled by recent “hate speech”. True, these folks might have been involved in illegal acts (anything from drugs, to tax-evasion, to dog-fighting) but many are part-and-parcel of the right wing disorganized militia movement. They’re not mutually exclusive aspects of identity.

    Sparkman’s body was found on 9/12…but that doesn’t mean he was killed on that date. I’ve heard some reports (unverified) that the body was in a state of decomposition.

    • Leen says:

      or someone whacked out on meth or something else

      And it is a myth that Appalachian folks are
      “The possibility that we aren’t dealing with the brightest bulbs in the village might also be indicated that whoever did this left the census computer in Sparkman’s car.”

      Lack of access to formal educations, lack of access to good paying jobs lack of self esteem that is fueled by statements like this. All of this combined leaves people desperate and more likely to try to escape either moving elsewhere for work or escape through substances

      • cinnamonape says:

        Leen…I didn’t say the whole village were dim-bulbs.

        But anyone that would

        a) kill a Federal employee and expect that the authorities are going to ignore it is a moron. Particularly when they put a “taunt” on the body.

        b) Then to leave a computer that might be loaded with evidence of the recent whereabouts of the worker and their contacts…and those that were not tabulated.

        My statement stands. Furthermore there are lots of reasons people become “morons”…in some cases individuals undertake a great deal of effort to become one.

          • cinnamonape says:

            Moral stupidity, yes. But certainly there are people who may think that murderers are “intelligent” if the do it to achieve certain ends. Generally I think that these murderers are covering up their lack of intelligence- in selecting some profession or lifestyle that necessitates murder, or that they weren’t able to achieve the same ends without snuffing out someones life.

            I see nothing in the particulars of this situation that would suggest that the individual(s) who did this was very smart. Of course maybe they’ve successfully doctored the info on the laptop, or the whole “Feds” thing is a subterfuge to throw the authorities off the trail. Who knows…but on the surface it seems like many other crimes where the criminal didn’t think about how easily they could be tracked down.

  17. freepatriot says:

    By now, you’ve probably heard the horrible story about the census worker and teacher found hanged in Clay County, KY with the word “fed” written on his chest.

    I was watching chicken noodle network earlier, and I didn’t hear a word about this

    except for emptywheel and talking points memo, I’d a never known

    till Olberman and Rachel splain what cnn missed ignored

  18. TheOrA says:

    There all sorts of crazy things going on in Eastern KY. In the area where my grandparents lived, the strip mining stopped when the easy coal ran out and then the local economy crashed. You either left, got into “alternative” lines of work, or went back to farming veggies and tobacco to make a few bucks.

    Pot and meth growing/production fall under that alternative category.

    Among other things, you can have people show up at your place and tell you that you need a new roof and they won’t take no for an answer.

    The penitentiary system in KY is corrupt as all get out. One head was caught multiple times having inmates perform serves at his farm or other properties and all he got was at worst was a slap on the wrist even after the third time he was caught using the prisoners as slave labor. Very good ol’ boy. Of course, The War on Drugs and the corruption in law enforcement and the penitentiary system go had in hand, so it shouldn’t probably come as a surprise.

    Dig around and you’ll find a tremendous amount of rot in what passes for government in KY, especially back in the areas where few are looking.

    • Leen says:

      because they often have their fingers in the pie..pot, meth, voter fraud

      Many of those Kentucky folks went up to Cinci, Dayton, Columbus for Union jobs as the coal companies took the money they made and went elsewhere. Talking to many of these old union workers who could access a living wage back in the 50’s 60’s etc without having a college education now in nursing homes some of them getting royally screwed by some of their Insurance plans

  19. freepatriot says:

    Earl, not disputing your main point, but a quibble – “revenuers” (f that term is still used) are not from the IRS, but ATF, or its predecessors. Remember, “Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.”

    they started out as treasury agents

    buying alcohol in mason jars is a family tradition …

  20. maryo2 says:

    I don’t think the killer was a nearby resident or had a nearby pot field or meth lab. I think that somebody without ties to that vicinity knew where he’d be, followed him and hung him. They may have a field or lab or voter fraud issue or hate “the feds”, but they don’t do it on the road where the body was found.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    But you’re right, the current agency involved would be the ATF or its current incarnation. In this case, sounds like DEA might be involved, too, not to mention the FBI. This could be very local or it could mirror violent resentment in many places. My guess is that’s one of many reasons the feds are keeping information about this case close.

  22. tejanarusa says:

    No, I know ATF is only the recent incarnation – tht’s why I said ‘or its predecessers.” The attitude surely predates the income tax.

    “I would also note that time in certain parts of Appalachia may well travel at a different pace than elsewhere.” True, true – tho popular culture spread by tv and even internet is speeding things up a bit everywhere.

  23. radiofreewill says:

    Gladwell’s ‘Blink’ talks about ‘Cultures of Honor’ such as those found in Appalachia and Southern Ohio – which have their roots in the law-less Clan regions of 17th Century Scotland.

    Cromwell couldn’t handle them, so he used them as Politico-Religio Pawns to populate Northern Ireland with Protestants around 1650 – they didn’t fit in there, either.

    100 years later, they were still causing all kinds of trouble for the Crown in Ireland. However, rather than expend the effort to civilize them then, the King of England instead shipped thousands and thousands of them out to West Virginia and the Colonial South with the promise of land grants! How about that Kingly problem solving, huh?

    In a Culture of Honor, a Jury will sometimes let a Murderer go – if they think the Victim “had it coming to him.”

    Writing ‘Fed’ on the guy could be the killer’s way of saying, “Here’s all the evidence you need to know that he had it coming to him!”

    • tejanarusa says:

      Yep, them’s my people, on my father’s mother’s side. From Ireland by way of SCarolina and Virginia (which of course WV was in those times).

      See also Jim Webb, “Born Fighting.”

    • cinnamonape says:

      Most were sent with the contract of indentured servitude for 8 years on a plantation….then they were to get a land-grant on the frontier. In Ireland and Scotland they were landless, as a result of the “incorporation” of the traditional small-holds by the clan-heads to allow large sheep-herding for the wool mills. This “enclosure movement” sent hundreds of thousands of Scots, and Scots -Irish, into the cities…to be shipped to America and later (after the American Revolution) to Australia.

    • solerso says:

      If its a suicide its a weird one. very weird. If its not a suicide its a murder. “pot growers” and “moonshiners” and “meth lab” operators might kill someone but only to AVOID scrutiny, not to INVITE scrutiny. If this is a murder, and it sure looks like one, it sure looks like a lynching. and who in kentucky would be most likely to lynch a “fed”? hmmmmmmmm

      • cinnamonape says:

        Several explanations possible here.

        The first is that he was tied to a tree trunk, but not hanged. The statement still seems to be that the rope was around his neck. Presumably that would not be enough alone to restrain someone unless the rope was used for strangulation. Or death or unconsciousness could have come from other means.

        Second, he was hanged from a branch but subsequently the rope was loosened by someone.

        Third, the branch bent or rope stretched over time leaving his feet touching the ground.

        The fourth is that his body was hanging from a branch, but his feet were touching the ground, and death came about through other means than asphyxiation.

        Coyotes might cause disarticulation (but note the authorities now say the feet were touching the ground) and while this might increase decomposition rates, it wouldn’t produce it. Even basic forensic analysis will determine whether animal consumption (and what type occurred) and the decomposition rates expected in such environments.

        BTW The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s “body farm” is not very far away…and could provide some of the best forensic specialists in the country for autopsy and field examination.

        Don’t know what to think about the mixed reports regarding the “now you see it…now you don’t” computer.

      • PJEvans says:

        Wondering about heart attack or something similar, him falling down unconscious or dead, then someone panics and stuffs him in his car and moves the whole thing a mile or too down the road. Not stupid, necessarily, but scared can have some of the same effects.

        My grandpa was from the east edge of Fleming county, next to what’s now D. Boone National Forest. And one of his mother’s aunts actually married a Boone.

  24. fatster says:

    O/T, or back to the Uighurs

    Palau agrees to take 12 Uighurs from Guantanamo: U.S.

Reuters US Online Report Top News
    Sep 24, 2009 12:24 EST

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – “The Obama administration has agreed with Palau to transfer up to 12 of the 13 Uighur Chinese detainees still held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the Pacific island, according to a letter obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

    “So far, six Uighurs have agreed to go to Palau and the Obama administration hopes two more will agree soon, according to a letter from the U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court which is considering whether to hear an appeal by the detainees to be released.”


    • Mary says:

      Kagan & Obama are desparately hoping to keep this one out of the courts, aren’t they?

      I was listening to an NPR station today that had a bit on about the closing of some of the US Concentrated Population detention camps in Iraq. At one camp, Bucca there are still about 160 (or 180?) that they haven’t released or charged. It’s the first camp to “close” although the others are going to have to eventually as well. Anyway, there was a british=y sounding reporter speaking to a military representative for the Camp, and that rep was getting very agitated in the conversation, but a couple of things not only surprised me, but the lack of irony with which some of the statements were made struck me too.

      When asked about the fact that 180 or so being held have been held for years (as had all the thousands of others more recently released) with due process, the military rep said that they were absolutely, without doubt, guilty and had blood on their hands, but we couldn’t prove it without jeopardizing sources. He reminded the reporter that there was a war and that insurgents were really bad people doing bad things, and then said that up until January of this year, the US had the “right” under the UN resolutions to hold and detain, since it was a war zone (I don’t think anyone asked about whether or not that right was subject to Geneva Conventions requirements for real status hearings). So, nine months afer that authority expired he’s saying that we did have the right, once upon a time. The military rep also said again that the guys who hadn’t been released were absolutely guility, because if they were “100% innocent” then they would have been released like the 92,000 other people we have held and eventually released.

      Seriously – without irony he says that since we have held, often for years, 92,000 other people but eventually got around to releasing the ones that didn’t die, that means the ones we still have must be guilty. I’m sure they have had some very bad guys, but it was a hard exchange to listen to.

      BTW – my family is from W VA. too. I’m related to the Hatfields and the McCoys (much closer to Hatfields). I think that if they hadn’t seen what strike busters did first hand, my parents would have been much more anti-union republicans than they were, but they saw some things while they were young that made a big impression on them. One of the few upsides of WWII is that the GI bill gave a lot of people from those areas, including my dad and cousins in both his and my mother’s families, the ability to go to school and make a change in their lives.

      We used to go back for family reunions every year, before hwy 64 was open through the mountains. And I was prone to car sickness – I remember those trips. When I was really young some relative (they were all a blur of “cousin x” and “uncle y” to me at that age) did take several of us including my brother and two cousins up to a still and there was a big to do about it – lots of tee totallers as well as illegal stills in the hills.

      • Leen says:

        the history of the region is fascinating. Many Scots Irish independent, hard working. Lack of jobs and access has and continues to cause lots of problems.

        learned a great deal being a Vista Volunteer way back when and then continuing to work in these areas having to do with different elections.

        Harlan county strikes is a must watch for those who want to understand some of the history…..&aqi=

      • fatster says:

        Thanks so much, Mary. That’s one heck of a circular argument, the military rep was making, isn’t it? Actually, I think there are at least two circular arguments going on there, and they fed into each other and blended until it’s all so thick and convoluted that it’s almost impenetrable.

        And all was done without adherence (partial or total) to established law (in contradistinction to BushCo application of convenient contrivances to same). And therein is the basic flaw that has led to this debacle.

        Pardon the rant. I am certainly no expert, just one more person heart-sickened by this mess.

  25. Leen says:

    “His vehicle was found nearby with a computer he was using for work inside, census employees were told.”…..d0ae9.html


    “Sparkman’s mother, Henrie Sparkman of Inverness, Fla., told The Associated Press her son was an Eagle scout who moved to the area to be a local director for the Boy Scouts of America. He later became a substitute teacher in Laurel County and supplemented that income as a Census worker.

    She said investigators have given her few details about her son’s death — they told her the body was decomposed — and haven’t yet released his body for burial. “I was told it would be better for him to be cremated,” she said.

    Henrie Sparkman said her son’s death is a mystery to her.”

    • tejanarusa says:

      Ouch. That must hurt to hear.

      Interesting that law enforcement was able to keep the lid on for so long; apparently yesterday’s announcement was the first anyone outside the area heard of it. A clue to how remote Clay County is.

      So the poor man turns out to be an outsider, too. That probably didn’t help when he showed up at the door.

    • MarkH says:

      Of all the things which have been suggested so far it’s this loose connection to the Boy Scouts which stands out as the odd-man-out. Is it possible he had just gotten involved with the Scouts at that place and discovered something he ought not to know?

      Sure sure, he could have been killed by drug dealers, moonshiners, anti-gov’t types, crooked politicians or just somebody who didn’t like him. It’s a dangerous place out in the country by yourself when people are under stress. But, the Boy Scouts, now that is something else.

      BTW, Clay County is named after Henry Clay who was a Congressman of some note many years ago.

  26. Mary says:

    OT – CQ Politics has a story up about the Italian trial and the issue I thought was eventually going to have to get play in the GWOT tactics – the US SOFA (this one with Italy).

    In addition to the CIA agents, the phone intercepts and other evidence compiled led to charges against a USAF Col Joseph Romano, who used the auspices of the USAF base in Italy to facilitate the kidnap to Egyptian torture plan.

    Now, very very belatedly in the case (Spataro has given closing arguments I think) Obama has piped up with the claim that Italy has no jurisdiction over USAF personnel at the base in Italy under the Status of Forces Agreement. Even though no one in the US is pursuing or plans to pursue Romano for his role in the kidnap to torture, Obamaco is arguing that since someone could have charged Romano under the UCMJ but didn’t, then too bad, so sad Miss Italy.

    Colonel Romano is subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the offenses alleged at the Tribunale of Milan are offenses that may be charged under various articles of the [UCMJ], wrote Lt. Col. Roger M. Welsh.

    Hysterically (or not) the DoD spokesman, Mehal, is chastising Italy to “adhere to” its treaty obligations (other than CAT I guess).

    We are reviewing this decision, but hope and expect that the Italian government will adhere to its treaty obligations and respect our assertion of jurisdiction under the NATO SOFA,” Mehal said


    This is something that Holder and Obama are going to have to face up to with their “let’s just look forward and use all the resources of gov to protect torturers” gameplan. We rely on a lot of SOFA agreements and those are based on an assumption that the US really is going to do things like give out more than a 60 day ankle bracelet type of punishment for torture killings in military custody; they assume that the US is going to operate under civilized standards; they assume that the US is not going to claim the right to roam the nations highways and byways and kidnap people and ship them out of country for torture. But since are claiming the right to do those very things and all without recourse, some of the people in those countries who are already not wildly happy with US bases are going to have a lot more ammo to pushback.

    • skdadl says:

      Hysterically (or not) the DoD spokesman, Mehal, is chastising Italy to “adhere to” its treaty obligations (other than CAT I guess).

      We are reviewing this decision, but hope and expect that the Italian government will adhere to its treaty obligations and respect our assertion of jurisdiction under the NATO SOFA,” Mehal said

      This is something that Holder and Obama are going to have to face up to with their “let’s just look forward and use all the resources of gov to protect torturers” gameplan. We rely on a lot of SOFA agreements and those are based on an assumption that the US really is going to do things like give out more than a 60 day ankle bracelet type of punishment for torture killings in military custody; they assume that the US is going to operate under civilized standards; they assume that the US is not going to claim the right to roam the nations highways and byways and kidnap people and ship them out of country for torture. But since are claiming the right to do those very things and all without recourse, some of the people in those countries who are already not wildly happy with US bases are going to have a lot more ammo to pushback.

      To Mary (long gone, I guess), thanks very much for that report, which I found here.

      We learn later on (or at least someone claims) that Obama/the WH actively approved the immunity claim. Obama to rest of world: heads, we win; tails, you lose. Every single case like this leaves me feeling that way.

      • fatster says:

        But who’s the “we”, skdadl. Not We the People of the USA. “We” is a very, very small group–and that’s just shameful.

        OK, stepping down off the soap-box. Sigh.

        • skdadl says:

          Och, m’love, I know that, and I’m sorry if my temper sometimes makes me put things badly. But I do know it — that’s why I show up here every day, or near as I can make it. {{{hugs}}}

          • fatster says:

            Oh, no, skdadl, I must apologize. I was tagging along on your excellent point, that’s all. Now shoot, what’ll I do to make amenda? I know. Here’s a maximum multicultural experience like none I’ve ever seen–cuts across ever so many boundaries. I do hope you enjoy it. And, after you’ve watched it, if you are so inclined, go watch it again and pretend you are a Repuglican, clueless and all (but that’s a redundancy, of course).

            I trust you like Mingus.

            {{{{{{{{Many, many hugs!}}}}}}}}

    • tejanarusa says:

      “Matewan”, the movie, ain’t bad either.

      My bad, that clip is from the movie. Thought it was something more documentary.

    • tejanarusa says:

      The comments on the Matewan video page are really interesting, as is the next video, with the Byzantine soundtrack, and its comments.

    • fatster says:

      Can’t answer your question, Hmmm, but this article was an eye-opener for me several years ago when I first saw it (and I do know a bit about statistical analyses of data-bases, but certainly nothing on this scale nor for those purposes).

  27. Gitcheegumee says:

    I don’t know if this was discussed upthread or not,but the info I read said he was a teacher. The intro by EW mentioned the officials in Clay County being involved in voter fraud,as well as a Superintendent of Schools.

    Just speculating ofcourse, but possibly someone had reason to think(rightly or wrongly) that the hanged census worker/teacher may have been an informant re: the school superintendent -leading to the voting fraud indictments?

    • dakine01 says:

      He was a substitute teacher in another county (Laurel Co., where he resided). So he most likely would have had nothing to do with the Superintendent being indicted.

    • dakine01 says:

      I’m not positive but since the body was found in the Daniel Boone National Forest, and was a government worker, the FBI may have been one of the first notified.

  28. Hmmm says:

    One weird thing. TPM says “She added to the AP that she didn’t know what had been behind her son’s death. ‘I have my own ideas, but I can’t say them out loud. Not at this point,’ she said.” — but the linked AP story has no such quote, at least not any more.

  29. scarshapedstar says:

    I dunno. The one thing that pot growers, meth cooks, and small-town officials under indictment have in common is that they really do not want the kind of federal response that results from killing a federal employee coming down on them.

    I may be giving Kentucky hillbilly criminals too much credit here, but it just doesn’t make any sense for them to basically dare the FBI to comb every inch of the county.

    • Hmmm says:

      Huh. Now they’re saying the computer -was- stolen. Also interesting comments, including “This is most dangerous time of the year for anyone representing the feds roaming around in Central Appalachia. Not because of anti-gov sentiment, because it is POT harvesting season.”

      • solerso says:

        Right. blame it on the devil weed and crazed dope fiends. everything ive heard, which is as little as everyone else, becuase they are sitting on the facts, is that the facts point to a “homicide”.The ap reporter i watched interviewed on the rachel maddow show called them “politcally explosive” facts. its well and good the withhold judgement, but be ready with the bloodthirsty, traitorus,limabuagh and bachman quotes.

      • dakine01 says:

        No. They are not saying that the computer was stolen. They are just correcting the reports that his census computer was found with him. Nothing in the article says it was stolen.

        • Hmmm says:

          You’re right, I filled in the stolen part, mea culpa. Thought we had indication elsewhere that there was a computer in the first place, and that may have been wrong.

          • dakine01 says:

            Thought we had indication elsewhere that there was a computer in the first place, and that may have been wrong.

            The original reports were saying that his computer was found in his truck. The linked article states that was in error.

            • Hmmm says:

              Right… so either there was no computer, or the computer was not with him, or the computer was with him and is now missing.

              • freepatriot says:

                so far as I can see, there is no evidence that this guy was out doing census business when he disappeared

                no report of his orders, actions, or movements before the crime

                no connection to the census at all

                was he supposed to be making calls on behalf of the census when he disappeared ???

                I haven’t seen any evidence of that yet

                • cinnamonape says:

                  so far as I can see, there is no evidence that this guy was out doing census business when he disappeared. no report of his orders, actions, or movements before the crime. no connection to the census at all

                  Except for this

                  “The Census Bureau has suspended door-to-door interviews in rural Clay County, where the body was found, pending the outcome of the investigation.”

                  Oh…and the “Fed” written on his body.

    • prostratedragon says:

      That article and others also are now saying that Sparkman’s body had contact with the ground when found, so even if he asphyxiated it might not have been from hanging, making them have to check out quite a few other airway-closing possibilities I should think.

      Afterthought: And of course they’d have to pay closer attention to the possibility that where he was found is not the actual crime scene.

      I should learn to think first: His boss at the teaching job first became concerned when Sparkman didn’t show for work on Thursday afternoon.

  30. maryo2 says:

    The dumber it looks, the more I think “kids.” Young people don’t comprehend the suffering of mothers and fathers, or how fragile we and they are.

    Since he was near or on the ground, decomposition could be from coyotes getting to the body.

    • prostratedragon says:

      The dumber it looks, the more I think “kids.”

      Alas, yes. Something gone awry, and then it was discovered that the man’s items marked him as as fed. So, all they could think to do was try to call attention to “fed” as the motive to deflect from what the evidence actually indicates.

  31. RicLocke says:

    It is heartening to see that at least some FDLers can see lightning and hear thunder.

    The possibility remains that Mr. Sparkman was killed in the scenario that gives you a tingle up your leg — i.e., by someone responding to “right wing death threats”. It isn’t the only possibility, in fact it isn’t even the most probable one. As several commenters have noted, the area is populated by people who appear to have a visceral reaction to supervision and “snooping”, and whose ancestors have been truculent and troublesome to whoever is in charge for centuries. Many of those ancestors were sent there by rulers and Governments using the area as a dumping ground for people who just can’t get along; some of them came there, and some current residents stay there, because despite very real privations the local culture is sympathetic to those attitudes.

    ATF, IRS, Census, or EPA makes no never mind. It all runs together into the general category “Fed”, especially now that all of them run around with pistols on their hips and SWAT teams on call.

    The Census Bureau has long since gone past simple enumeration for determining Congressional representation. It collects all kinds of statistics about American life, and the questions asked by Census Bureau fieldworkers are often considered insultingly intrusive even by people who wouldn’t dream of assaulting the worker for them. The notion that Mr. Sparkman may have been killed by someone with the same resentment and a more-violent habit of mind is not beyond the realms of possibility.

    So long as we’re speculating, though, my money’s on a pot farmer or meth-lab proprietor who got scared that the Feds were getting too close. Such a person might well be bright enough to stage the scene in an attempt to pin the deed on resentment of the Census.


  32. Hmmm says:

    I suppose one predictable effect of drawing a huge federal investigative presence in, would be to seriously ratchet up anti-federal sentiments there generally. Another predictable effect would be to make life a hell of a lot harder for the pot and meth industries. Seems like those could both be useful effects for some (not necessarily the same) parties.

    Mainly I await disclosure of the politically charged facts, but in the meantime those not-necessarily-what-it-seems possibilities are interesting to mull.

    • Leen says:

      Chris Matthews has been hammering away for weeks about how statements that inflame or incite potential violent behavior needs to the looked at

  33. RicLocke says:

    Re: the intelligence of murderers –

    The vast majority of killings are done by people on the lower side of the intelligence scale. A typical crime scene finds the decedent lying on the floor, with the killer standing over the corpse, weapon still in hand and a stupefied look on his or her face.

    Giving all honor to the legions of intelligent and thoughtful cops, police tend strongly to be drawn from the high end of the same demographic. The occasional murderer of high enough intelligence to curb his or her impulses and cover the tracks gives them fits.


  34. maryo2 says:

    I have not seen any reports that he was conducting census business that day either. That he was is implied by reports that he did do census work in Clay County in past years. But no one has said what he was doing on 9-11. He has a wife and a son. Where does his wife think he was for two days? Why is his mom being sought by reporters and not his wife?

    (And don’t say “Hiking the Appalachian Trail”)

    • prostratedragon says:

      I haven’t noticed a reference to a current wife, though maybe I was reading too fast. The son is a young adult, not sure whether he lives with his father.

  35. sangemon says:

    Great piece, EW!

    Just one little quibble.

    it’s worth recalling how Clay County made news earlier this year, when a bunch of local officials were indicted for vote fraud.

    Shouldn’t that be election fraud? Vote fraud is what the Cons are accusing ACORN of, isn’t it?

  36. radiofreewill says:

    I’m going to take a totally wild-assed guess, and say that the Same Mentality that Colludes to Commit Vote Fraud, might also be involved in All Kinds of Public Disenfranchisement Schemes for Profit and Gain.

    Clay County sounds rotten through-and-through to me. Why not suspect that “the Klan” – or whatever secret handshake group of criminal co-conspirators it may be – has a vested interest in keeping the locals shushed-up about what’s been going on in the Local Government/Schools for the last 8 years?

    Sparkman may have been a Census Worker, but to the ‘Bad Guys’ he must have looked like a sympathetic ear for whistle-blowers – and therefore someone to be made a chilling example out of…

    I’m guessing the Vote Fraud Case and Sparkman’s death are related.

  37. prostratedragon says:

    (Had to step away for a while: reply to @120) Yeah, any of that —garroting, smothering with a pillow or cloth, or even some problem that developed during some other trauma; once you go to messing with a person all kinds of shit can happen. And a person can possibly be hanged without being suspended, using the rope similarly to a garrot.

  38. Blub says:

    in some respects I find the prospect that this Federal worker was murdered over massive local political corruption a lot scarier than the prospect that he was killed by some wingnut who spends too much time listening to the rantings of Glen Beck. That backwater regions have become effectively ungovernable, mired in systemic corruption and ruled by warlord-like thugs is a lot more frigtening than mere fanaticism.

    • Hmmm says:

      Not be inflammatory, but are you suggesting this is a murder along the lines of a “this is what happens to stool pigeons” warning? I.e. witness intimidation?

      • Blub says:

        well.. I don’t know but one might surmise that scrawling “Fed” on the chest of your hanged victim has something to do with sending a message – warning. We just don’t know over what.

  39. Hmmm says:

    Oh my, a new post on TPM has commenters discussing autoerotic asphyxiation scenarios… what a world, what a world…

    • Palli says:

      outlandish…..but no one is explaining an obvious technique for murder: tie a rope around a unconscious person’s neck, put them in the open bed of a truck, tie the other end to an immovable object and drive off

      BTW, does anyone know if he was wearing a census ID badge. The man who came to confirm us was wearing a large one on a cord around his neck.

  40. 1boringoldman says:

    While there’s no more reason to believe Sparkman’s death is connected to this case than that it is connected to Bachmann’s inflammatory statements, it should at least caution us against leaping to conclusions. There may well be very localized reasons why people in Clay County don’t want the federal government going door-to-door.

    Clay and adjoining Harlan KY are paradigms for the impoverished Appalachian Culture that dates into antiquity. It’s an area where “fed’al gu’ment” anything is disdained, local “gu’ment” is by definition corrupt, and gothic stories like this are still the currency of folk songs and legend. You obviously know your Appalachia when you say they don’t want the federal government going door-to-door. That’s always been true there [think “Deliverance“]. But he may well have been killed for just being there…

    “If they know I’m here, they might …”

  41. MarkH says:

    I find it hard to believe it was back woods people since they didn’t just bury the body.

    He was new in the area wasn’t he? I’d look for the connections he made to people there and see if there were any motives aside from the obvious ones already mentioned. He may have been going through the countryside and walked into the wrong field, but those folks hide bodies.

    BTW, the ‘fed’ on his body…was the ‘f’ capitalized as ‘F’? If it wasn’t capitalized that might mean it wasn’t Federal Agent they were writing. And, did he have that kind of writing instrument with him all the time or was it perhaps introduced by his killer(s)?

    Do we know his politics? If he was Republican then a lot of these speculations would go out the window.

    • Mary says:

      On the one hand I’m glad Higazy got something and given the Beck Effect in the Dept of Justice, you’d have a hard time counseling him to do anything other than take the money, but I’m kind of sorry that this means no trial on his case, no public testimony, no additional discovery, and no case law (although there were risks there too) comeing from it.

      His lawyer is wrong about him being in prison now if the pilot hadn’t shown up, though. He would have been transferred to torture – GITMO or more likely a black site, since he had “confessed” to having a role in the 9/11 attacks. And he would have “given up” *information* too.

      What happened with Higazy should have been something really taken to heart within DOJ – showing what was going to happen if we used rage instead of reason. Instead, it was a sign of things to come to anyone paying attention. No remorse, no concern – no one at DOJ worried in the least about coercing false confessions about something so important. Instead, an internal investigation by DOJ that ended up with Comey, who was USA at the time, smarming about what a great job DOJ did in the Higazy interrogations. One of the paver stones on the road to hell.

  42. AngelsAwake says:

    Shit, I’m from Kentucky, and I can tell you this: shooting federal workers is quite nearly the state sport. From hating the government for its role in protecting the rights of wealthy coal operators and putting down the unions, to the current madness because, holy shit, a Black Man is President, I’m not surprised this murder happened here. The corruption scandal was probably the icing on the cake.

  43. fatster says:

    O/T Who will rid us of these heisters?

    Federal Reserve Admits Hiding Gold Swap Arrangements, GATA Says
    September 23, 2009 09:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time 

    MANCHESTER, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–”The Federal Reserve System has disclosed to the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc. that it has gold swap arrangements with foreign banks that it does not want the public to know about.

    “The disclosure, GATA says, contradicts denials provided by the Fed to GATA in 2001 and suggests that the Fed is indeed very much involved in the surreptitious international central bank manipulation of the gold price particularly and the currency markets generally.”


  44. bobschacht says:

    Blockbuster rulings on the Al Haramain case, from the EFF:

    Al-Haramain Warrantless Spying Case Can Proceed
    News Update by Kurt Opsahl
    Today, Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the United States District Court in San Francisco denied the government’s third motion to dismiss the Al-Haramain v. Bush litigation. The ruling means that the case can proceed and the court also set up a process to allow the Al Haramain plaintiffs to prosecute the case while protecting classified information. …

    I am looking forward to analysis by bmaz, EW, Mary, et al.

    Bob in AZ

  45. MadDog says:

    OT – From Daphne Eviatar over at the Windy, this new scoop:

    Documents Suggest Detainee Abuses by Defense Department

    New documents obtained by TWI related to the case of Mohammed Jawad, an adolescent tortured by Afghan police and then abused again by U.S. interrogators, suggest that not only certain CIA interrogations, but of interrogations by the Department of Defense demand a broader investigation as well.

    Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he would investigate only CIA interrogations that appeared to have violated the agency’s rules and guidance from the Department of Justice. The Jawad case, however, reveals that U.S. military interrogations also violated well-established laws and appear to have violated the Justice Department’s legal guidelines as well. The newly-obtained documents also reveal that the Department of Defense repeatedly failed to follow up on complaints by Jawad’s lawyers that its officers were breaking the law…

    …A military judge in Jawad’s case excluded his “confessions” in part on the grounds that he endured 14 days straight of sleep deprivation (by means of what came to be known as the “frequent flyer” program), which may well have amounted to torture. Justice Department memos approved up to 96 hours of sleep deprivation, although some make reference to 180 hours, which would be 11 days. But 14 days exceeds the guidelines of all of the legal memos regarding interrogations that have been revealed so far.

    According to Judge Stephen Henley, the U.S. Army colonel who ruled on Jawad’s military commission case, Jawad was “moved from cell to cell 112 times from 7 May 2004 to 20 May 2004, on average of about once every three hours.” Jawad was shackled but not interrogated; “the scheme was calculated to profoundly disrupt his mental senses…”

    Well worth the whole read!

    • fatster says:

      It surely was worth the whole read and it is a keeper. Many thnx.

      Surely, even those in the general population who are in denial that things done to these very bad men to extract info from them are basically ok given the situation, will have to go through some fancy confabulating to make it ok that this boy/teenager was put through this terrible ordeal–and could scarcely be expected to deliver any kind of truth afterwards anyway.

      “According to Judge Stephen Henley, the U.S. Army colonel who ruled on Jawad’s military commission case, Jawad was “moved from cell to cell 112 times from 7 May 2004 to 20 May 2004, on average of about once every three hours.” Jawad was shackled but not interrogated; “the scheme was calculated to profoundly disrupt his mental senses.”’

      (I know, I know, the intent was to produce “actionable intelligence” and not the truth, but still. . . }

  46. radiofreewill says:

    OT – It’s looking like Obama is going to call-out Iran this morning for Cheating – by failing to disclose a Secret Uranium Enrichment Facility – while Publicly Claiming only a legitimate, peaceful Energy Program.

    Obama could, imvho, make the case that Iran – having broken trust with the rest of the World – must now submit to the Complete Nuclear Regulatory Regime, or be officially branded a Rogue State.

  47. ToddE says:

    I’ll “Cry Wolf” if no one else is willing.

    Wolves have been howling for blood for nine months.

    People have been leading these wolves to ‘the feds’ door for a while.

    Now we have a dead federal worker who appears to be killed by a wolf.

    at some point in time not crying wolf become irresponsible. I understand a caveat might need to be thrown out there, but let’s admit the facts as we know them, point to a wolf attack

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