DOJ Report Shows Partisan Culture Reigned Beyond The Few Names Named

July 30, 2008 6:53 p.m.

There are still two more uncompleted inspector general reports pending — one about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys and another about political agendas in the department’s Civil Rights Division.

Yet from the IG report Monday on hiring practices, it’s already clear that a culture of partisanship prevailed inside the department, and many DOJ officials were playing along, some more actively than others.

“It had a significant effect throughout the department. I think one of the most significant things is people not objecting, people not standing up,” Inspector General Glenn Fine told lawmakers today on Capitol Hill.

To be sure, Monica Goodling, Kyle Sampson and others appear to have been serious party hacks who violated department policy and federal law by screening out prospective lawyers and judges for partisan reasons. But many others went along, if only more passively.

Take for example what Michael Elston told the IG’s investigators. Elston clearly understood how Goodling and others operated and admitted to adopting a go-along, get-along attitude.

For example, Michael Elston, former Chief of Staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, stated that when he sought attorneys for details to the [Office of the Deputy Attorney General], he would generally look for candidates with the type of experience required by the position, but he also looked for candidates with Republican or conservative credentials in order to get them approved by the [Office of Attorney General].

Elston said that Goodling made it clear to him that she did not want Democrats detailed to the ODAG because she had a “farm system” approach to filling vacancies in the Department, and she wanted to “credential” Republicans so that they could move on to higher political positions.

We saw an example of this in an email sent by Bradley Schlozman, the U.S. Attorney for Missouri’s western district. He was sending resumes for three prospective hires to DOJ headquarters. Apparently without any prompting, Schlozman began touting their political credentials.

In his e-mail, Schlozman described the three candidates as “rock-solid Americans” who would be a “hugely positive legacy for this Administration.” Schlozman described each candidate in terms of their conservative political credentials. He wrote that the first applicant’s “involvement with the Bush/Cheney campaign speaks for itself.”

Yes, in some cases, Goodling and others actively screened out prospective lawyers and judges for partisan reasons. But in many situations, they didn’t have to. Others did it for them.

Support The TPM Journalism Fund
  • Contributions allow us to hire more journalists
  • Contributions allow us to provide free memberships to those who cannot afford them
  • Contributions support independent, non-corporate journalism
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: