"Some of the same people who undermined and discredited the Civil Rights Division while they were there have now made a career of making false allegations against the Division from the outside," Nadler said.
"What is disturbing is that the allegations all seem to have the same subtext: that the Division is being used to favor minorities to the detriment of whites," Nadler said.
Nadler's comments came at the first Civil Rights Division oversight hearing the House Judiciary Committee has held since Republicans took the House. The remarks seemed aimed at ex-DOJ employees like J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky who have attacked the Obama Justice Department on conservative websites.
"What they really mean is that the Division is now making an honest effort to enforce in an even-handed manner our civil rights laws, laws which the complainers who were previously in the Division really don't like at all," Nadler said. "It is a Willie Horton campaign, pure and simple."
The New York Democrat said he wouldn't be surprised if Republicans on the Committee brought up the debunked New Black Panther Party controversy. Right on cue, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) raised the two-year-old voter intimidation case which conservatives have alleged was partially dropped by the Obama administration because the defendants were African-American. A report by DOJ's internal watchdog found no evidence that politics played a role in the decision -- in fact it found that an Obama administration official refused to allow the case to be dismissed outright.
The hearing came on the heels of reports by Charlie Savage of the New York Times and David Ingram of the National Law Journal taking a took a look at the credentials of lawyers hired into the Division during the Obama administration.
Those hired during the Obama administration were much more likely to have civil rights background and connections to typically liberal-leaning civil rights organizations, according to documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. The administration has also put career DOJ employees in charge of the hiring process, a drastic shift from the Bush era, when the Division hired employees based on their conservative credentials.