Democrats Want Probe Of Politicized Hiring Claims At DOJ

on April 25, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee/Getty Images North America

Congressional Democrats wrote to the Justice Department on Tuesday demanding an Inspector General investigation into allegations that the department has illegally based hiring decisions for immigration judges, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and other positions on the candidates’ “perceived political or ideological views.”

“The Department may be improperly withholding or rescinding offers for these positions based on the perception that candidates hold political or ideological views that do not align with those of the Trump Administration,” the group of House and Senate Democrats wrote. “In multiple cases, the Department appears to have withdrawn offers of employment with explanations that suggest a pretext for improper political motives.”

Under federal laws dating back to the late 1800s, government workers can only be hired or fired based on their merit and work performance. It’s illegal to make those decisions based on their real or perceived political beliefs.

The lawmakers said that since they sent a letter to the DOJ in April citing these allegations, the agency has failed to give a “substantive response,” and more whistleblowers have come forward “with information that corroborates the allegations.”

Asked about the claims at an April 18 congressional hearing, James McHenry, the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, denied discussing the political ideology of any candidate for the jobs at issue.

“We would have no way of knowing a candidate’s ideological or political affiliation,” McHenry added. “It is not something that we request or that is part of the application process.”

The Democratic lawmakers emphasized in the April letter that attempts to politicize the DOJ workforce are not new or unique to the Trump administration. They cited investigations that uncovered the George W. Bush administration’s DOJ engaging in similar practices in assessing candidates for the same positions.

The letter is signed by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), and Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA).

Read the full letter here:

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