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Key Democrat denies political payback in Justice Department budget slash

A key Democrat says politics did not play a role in slashing the Justice Department's budget for the next two years.

Joint Finance Committee co-chair Mark Pocan said all agencies had to bite the bullet, to make up for a $6,6 billion revenue shortfall.

But Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen told staffers the finance panel ignored his department's public safety mission.

And he never imagined his agency would be treated quote, "inequitably and in such a seemingly partisan manner."

Last fall, Democrats accused the Republican Van Hollen of trying to disenfranchise voters with his lawsuit to re-check thousands of voter registrations, something state officials decided to do after the election.

Pocan and the other finance co-chair, Mark Miller, tried to find out how much staff time the Justice Department spent on the lawsuit, but Van Hollen insisted he didn't keep track of that.

Now, Van Hollen says Pocan's committee has slashed 10 percent of his budget, adding 80 layoffs which will eventually hurt crime victims and citizens.

Pocan denies any political payback.

The full Assembly will take up the budget next week. Minority Republicans promise at least 100 amendments.