So far, Bradley Schlozman has been a minor character in the U.S. attorneys scandal. He ought to be a major one.
To put the case succinctly: Schlozman was the most aggressively political of the political appointees in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. And the administration installed him as the U.S. attorney in a key swing state in an election year. And to clinch it all, as we'll see in our next post, he delivered.
Schlozman was appointed to be the interim U.S. attorney in western Missouri on March 23, 2006 -- just two weeks after the president had signed the USA Patriot Act into law; the bill contained a provision that allowed interim U.S. attorneys to serve indefinitely.
There are indications that Schlozman's predecessor, Todd Graves, was forced out. He resigned suddenly, and local news reports noted in passing that he quit without having his next job lined up. And there is strong circumstantial evidence that his name appeared on one of Kyle Sampson's list of U.S. attorneys to fire shortly before he resigned.
By the time Schlozman arrived in Missouri, he'd already left a strong imprint at the Justice Department. The career attorneys and analysts who worked under him in the Civil Rights Division's voting section describe what can fairly be described as a reign of terror.
Bob Kengle, formerly the deputy chief for the voting section, told me that Schlozman "led by power":
"What he sought to inculcate into people was a fear that if you disagreed, if you asked for reconsideration on something, if you pointed out something that was not correct in a decision that had been made, then youâd pay for it."
Kengle, who joined the division in 1984, said that Schlozman would change performance evaluations for lawyers and analysts who disagreed with him. Two weeks ago, we reported on the experience of Toby Moore, a geographical analyst with the section who quit after invoking Schlozman's ire. Moore's sin, among others, was objecting to a Georgia voter I.D. law that would later be compared to a Jim Crow-era poll tax by a federal appeals judge.
Joe Rich, the former chief of the voting section, had a similar experience with Schlozman. "He was universally despised by career people. He was the most disdainful and vitriolic guy I've ever dealt with, and he had it in for everybody." Rich described Schlozman as "very central" in the department's hiring. As I reported earlier this week, Schlozman apparently gauged potential recruits by whether they were active Republicans.
Rich and Kengle left the division together in 2005. "I reached my personal breaking point," Kengle said.
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