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Monday, July 28, 2008

A troubling, cautionary tale ...

... of a devoutly Christian lawyer--a graduate of  Regent Law School--who in her misguided religious/political zeal broke the law, and of an Attorney General who nurtured a departmental culture that encouraged such lawbreaking.

New York Times, July 29, 2008

Gonzales Aides Broke Laws in Hiring, Report Concludes, by Eric Lichtblau

Senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales broke the law by using politics to guide their hiring decisions for a wide range of important department positions, slowing the hiring process at critical times and damaging the department’s credibility and independence, an internal report concluded Monday.

The report, prepared by the Justice Department’s inspector general and its internal ethics office, singles out for particular criticism Monica Goodling, a young lawyer from the Republican National Committee who rose quickly through the ranks of the department to become a top aide to Mr. Gonzales.

Ms. Goodling, who testified before Congress in May 2007 at the height of the scandal over the firings of nine United States attorneys, introduced politics into the hiring process in a systematic way that constituted illegal misconduct, the report found.

Last month, the inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, released a separate report that found a similar pattern of politicized hiring at the Justice Department in reviewing applications from young lawyers for the honors and intern programs. The new report released Monday goes much further, however, in documenting pervasive evidence of political hiring for some of the department’s most senior career, apolitical positions, including immigration judges and assistant United States attorneys.

The inspector general’s investigation found that Ms. Goodling and a handful of other senior aides to Mr. Gonzales developed a system of using in-person interviews and Internet searches to screen out candidates who might be too liberal and to identify candidates seen as pro-Republican and supportive of President Bush.

When interviewed by the inspector general, Mr. Gonzales said he was not aware that Ms. Goodling and other aides were using political criteria in their decisions for career positions. Mr. Gonzales resigned last summer in the face of mounting accusations from congressional Democrats that politics had corrupted the department.

His successor, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, said in a statement Monday after the report’s release that he was disturbed by their findings that improper political considerations were used in hiring decisions relating to some career employees. . . .

In forwarding a résumé in 2006 from a lawyer who was working for the Federalist Society, Ms. Goodling sent an e-mail message to the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Steven Bradbury, saying: “Am attaching a résumé for a young, conservative female lawyer.”

Ms. Goodling interviewed the woman herself for possible positions and wrote in her notes such phrases as “pro-God in public life,” and “pro-marriage, anti-civil union.” She was eventually hired as a career prosecutor.

Ms. Goodling also conducted extensive searches on the Internet to glean the political or ideological leanings of candidates for career positions, the report found. She and other Justice Department supervisors would look for key phrases like “abortion,” “homosexual,” “guns,” or “Florida re-count” to get information on a candidate’s political leanings.

[Read the rest, and download the report, here.]

http://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2008/07/a-troubling-cau.html

Perry, Michael | Permalink

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