The two-page letter, written on stationery of the American Freedom Agenda, a recently formed body designed to promote conservative legal principles, is blunt. Addressed to both Bush and Gonzales, it goes well beyond the U.S. attorneys controversy and details other alleged failings by Gonzales. “Mr. Gonzales has presided over an unprecedented crippling of the Constitution’s time-honored checks and balances,” it declares. “He has brought rule of law into disrepute, and debased honesty as the coin of the realm.” Alluding to ongoing scandal, it notes: “He has engendered the suspicion that partisan politics trumps evenhanded law enforcement in the Department of Justice.”
The letter concludes by saying, “Attorney General Gonzales has proven an unsuitable steward of the law and should resign for the good of the country… The President should accept the resignation, and set a standard to which the wise and honest might repair in nominating a successor…” It is the first public demand by a group of conservatives for Gonzales’ firing. Signatories to the letter include Bruce Fein, a former senior official in the Reagan Justice Department, who has worked frequently with current Administration and the Republican National Committee to promote Bush’s court nominees; David Keene, chairman of the influential American Conservative Union, one of the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots conservative groups; Richard Viguerie, a well-known G.O.P. direct mail expert and fundraiser; and Bob Barr, the former Republican Congressman from Georgia and free speech advocate, as well as John Whitehead, head of the Rutherford Institute, a conservative non-profit active in fighting for what it calls religious freedoms.