Justice Officials Repeatedly Broke Law on Hiring

One of the many problems during the Bush years has been the extreme concern for politics, even at the cost of competency.  This included the politicization of the Justice Department. An inspector general’s report has verified that “Former Justice Department counselor Monica M. Goodling and former chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson routinely broke the law by conducting political litmus tests on candidates for jobs as immigration judges and line prosecutors.” The Washington Post reports:

Goodling passed over hundreds of qualified applicants and squashed the promotions of others after deeming candidates insufficiently loyal to the Republican party, said investigators, who interviewed 85 people and received information from 300 other job seekers at Justice. Sampson developed a system to screen immigration judge candidates based on improper political considerations and routinely took recommendations from the White House Office of Political Affairs and Presidential Personnel, the report said.

Goodling regularly asked candidates for career jobs: “What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?” the report said. One former Justice Department official told investigators she had complained that Goodling was asking interviewees for their views on abortion, according to the report.

In one case, Goodling refused to extend the temporary assignment of a prosecutor because of her “perception of the [lawyer’s] sexual orientation,” according to the report.

Taking political or personal factors into account in employment decisions for career positions violates civil service laws and can run afoul of ethics rules. Investigators said today that both Goodling and Sampson had engaged in “misconduct.”

The improper personnel moves deprived worthy candidates of promotions and damaged the credibility of the Justice Department, investigators wrote. An experienced counterterrorism prosecutor, for example, was kept from advancing in favor of a more junior lawyer who lacked a background in terrorism.

The Plank gives a good example of the absurd levels to which political concerns were taken:

When one applicant responded that he admired Condoleezza Rice, Goodling “frowned” and remarked, “But she’s pro-choice.” It’s frankly hard to know where to begin here. Worrying that a career employee at the Department of Justice might not immediately condemn the abortion-rights views of the secretary of state of one particular administration? The breezy conflation of partisanship, ideology, and personal loyalty to the president? The fact that Goodling has acknowledged she knew she was breaking the law but says she “didn’t mean to”?

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  1. 1
    TCG says:

    In one case, Goodling refused to extend the temporary assignment of a prosecutor because of her “perception of the [lawyer’s] sexual orientation,” according to the report.

    Not only is Goodling (ironic name) is an incompetent hack she is just plain mean as well.

  2. 2
    Shoppingkharma says:

    I hope this isn’t passed on as well. The scandals keep piling up and piling up, but nothing is done except acknowledgment that these crimes indeed occurred.

  3. 3
    Jerry says:

    Well, Obama is on the record as saying that he’ll have his AG act on anything that is an actual crime (as opposed to just really dumb practices).  I’m not an expert, but everyone seems to agree that these were crimes.  So, even if the mostly leaderless Dems in Congress can’t get their act together, Obama will.

  4. 4
    Horatio says:

    Can you spell “P-A-R-D-O-N”?

    And if you really believe that an Obama AG will do anything less reprehensible ( or even illegal based upon some statute) vis-a-vis firing AGs or hiring new ones, then I have some land on FL that’s a great bargain.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    A pardon won’t even be necessary for Goodling She has immunity. Whether they will go after any one else remains to be seen.

    There is no reason to believe that an Obama AG will do anything comparable. The Bush administration took such politicization to a new level. Even if you believe an Obama administration will be no more ethical than most other presidents, there is no reason to believe they will follow in the criminality of the Bush administration.

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