DOJ Hiring Marred by Politics, New Report Finds

Monday’s report identifies the department’s former White House liaison, Monica Goodling, for violating federal statutes and Justice Department policy by discriminating against job applicants who weren’t Republican or conservative loyalists, the Associated Press reported.

“Goodling improperly subjected candidates for certain career positions to the same politically based evaluation she used on candidates for political positions,” the report finds.

The 140-page report does not indicate whether Goodling or former Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson, who was also named in the investigation for using politics to screen immigration judge candidates, could face any charges. None of those involved in the discriminatory hiring still work at Justice.

Justice investigators told the AP that Goodling, at least, may lose her law license as a result of the findings.

In one example of the violations, Goodling was asked to approve the hiring an assistant U.S. attorney for a job vacancy in Washington, D.C. She responded that the candidate gave her pause because he appeared to be a “liberal Democrat,” the report said.

The report also said Goodling screened candidates by researching their political contributions and voter registration records. Goodling also reportedly asked candidates for career jobs about their views on President Bush and other political matters — questions that violate civil service hiring rules.

Goodling resigned last year in the wake of a congressional probe into whether politics was behind the firing of nine U.S. attorneys — allegations that have tarnished the Bush administration and contributed to the resignation of Gonzales nearly a year ago.

“This report details the misconduct committed by several high-ranking officials in the office of the attorney general, and the steps they took to politicize certain career positions,” said H. Marshall Jarrett of the office of professional responsibility, according to Reuters.

Justice department investigators interviewed 85 people and received information from some 300 other job seekers as part of the probe, the Washington Post reported.

Gonzales faced tough congressional questioning over the firings of the nine federal prosecutors late last year, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., flatly saying in July,” I don’t trust you.”

Attorney General Michael Mukasey, whom President Bush selected to succeed Gonzales, said he was “disturbed” by the findings.

“It is crucial that the American people have confidence in the propriety of what we do and how we do it, and I will continue my efforts to make certain they can have such confidence,” Mukasey said in a statement after the report was released.

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