In written answers
to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Bradley Schlozman, the former Justice Department official and U.S. attorney who's been at the center of the firings controversy, admitted that he'd once urged hiring certain prosecutors for his office based on their political affiliation. It's against civil service laws to do so.
But he had a reason, he explains
(how good a reason, you can decide for yourself). When serving as the interim U.S. attorney for Kansas City, Schlozman had been unable to hire assistant U.S. attorneys on his own, as Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys are able to do. For that, he had to go through the central office, or in this case, Monica Goodling, the Department's White House liaison. He'd "heard rumors," he writes,"that Ms. Goodling considered political affiliation in approving hiring decisions for career positions." Goodling, of course, admitted
in testimony to Congress that she'd made sure that only Republicans were hired for certain non-political positions.
And so, Schlozman explains, in order to "maximize the chances" of being able to hire his desired candidate, he "once noted the likely political leanings of several applicants" in a conversation with Department officials.
But there was no damage done! Schlozman adds that none of his desired candidates were hired.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has forwarded Schlozman's responses to DoJ Inspector General Glenn Fine, who's investigating the politicization of the hiring process in the Department. "These belated answers confirm the serious concerns that have been raised about the role Mr. Schlozman and other senior Justice Department officials played in screening career employees for political loyalty," says Leahy.
Elsewhere in the answers, Schlozman denies having hired applicants based on their political affiliation both during his time as a senior official in the Civil Rights Division or his tenure as U.S. attorney. Lawyers were hired based on "a comprehensive review" of their experience and background, he writes.
That's not the impression he gave to one potential hire, who told TPMmuckraker that Schlozman only considered hiring an acquaintance of his after asking whether the applicant was a Republican. Other attorneys have said that Schlozman had sought to replace lawyers hired during the Clinton administration with what he called "good Americans."
Schlozman finally left the Department only late last month.