DoJ Investigators Probing Whether Goodling Fired Lawyer Due to Gay Rumors

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The Department of Justice’s inspector general continues to conduct its wide-ranging investigation of the U.S. attorney firings and the general politicization of the Department under Alberto Gonzales. And as we reported back in August of last year, one area of focus by investigators is allegedly political hiring practices by Monica Goodling. The inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility sent out a questionnaire to anyone who had interviewed for a job at the DoJ during Gonzo’s tenure. One thing investigators wanted to know about was whether the interviewer had asked about the applicant’s sexual orientation.

NPR today provides some more evidence that Goodling and her associates might have decided that being gay was a disqualifier. Leslie Hagen was the liaison between the Justice Department and the U.S. attorneys’ committee on Native American issues until her contract was suddenly discontinued in October of 2006.

No one seems to dispute that Hagen was extremely capable. The Department’s job evaluation reflected that her performance had been “outstanding.” And yet she was fired. Sound familiar?

The difference now is that Gonzales, Goodling, and the others aren’t still at DoJ to explain what the “performance related” reasons for Hagen’s firing were.

From NPR:

Justice Department e-mails obtained by NPR show that Gonzales’s senior counsel Monica Goodling had a particular interest in Hagen’s duties….

The Justice Department’s inspector general is looking into whether Hagen was dismissed after a rumor reached Goodling that Hagen is lesbian.

As one Republican source put it, “To some people, that’s even worse than being a Democrat.”

Several people interviewed by the inspector general’s staff said investigators asked whether people drew a connection between the rumors and Hagen’s dismissal….

Someone who worked in Hagen’s office says that in a 2006 meeting, senior officials were told that Hagen’s contract would not be renewed because someone on the attorney general’s staff had a problem with Hagen. The problem, it was suggested during the conversation, was sexual orientation — or what was rumored to be Hagen’s sexual orientation.

One person at the meeting asked, “Is that really an issue?” But the decision had been made.