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Every Single One’ Fallout: Justice Dept. in Turmoil From PJMedia Series

What’s happened up until now, and what internal leaks say about what’s coming. Hint: jobs may now be at stake. (This is the twelfth of a series of articles about the Justice Department's hiring practices since President Obama took office. Read parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and eleven.)

by
David Steinberg

Bio

September 26, 2011 - 12:00 am

The testimony was accompanied by a 70-page report, which primarily attacked Assistant Attorney General Brad Schlozman — the position now held by Thomas Perez. Six months later, on January 22, 2009, Spakovsky eviscerated the report and defended Schlozman in the Weekly Standard (the report had not been made public until the week prior, on January 13).

The result of all of this investigation: Schlozman resigned. Kyle Sampson resigned. Monica Goodling resigned. (She was later reprimanded by the Virginia State Bar following the report. Four years later. Strange.)

However, and most telling: none were prosecuted. Further investigation concluded that there was not sufficient evidence of law being violated by anyone involved.

Glenn Fine was still IG until January 2011: his earlier concern about the “serious problems and misconduct” inherent in politicized hiring — which resulted in several unnecessary resignations — had faded when Eric Holder took over the Department under his watch. Fine’s enforcement was blatantly uneven, and overlaps with our second concern: a significant number of Americans are neither protected by our civil rights laws nor by the appointed Department watchman.

Where’s Our Pulitzer?

A fourth concern, unrelated to the law yet perhaps as relevant to the American citizen, is the hypocrisy with which this “no exceptions” political litmus test has been examined by left-leaning media outlets and establishments.

The most notable findings by the press resided in the work of the Boston Globe’s Charlie Savage: Due in no small part to his investigation of Bush DOJ hiring practices, Savage was the recipient of a 2007 Pulitzer!

Savage submitted a series of eight articles to the Pulitzer committee; the series resulted in his win. One of the eight articles, published on July 23, 2006, was titled: “Civil Rights Hiring Shifted in Bush Era: Conservative leanings stressed.” From the piece:

The Bush administration is quietly remaking the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, filling the permanent ranks with lawyers who have strong conservative credentials but little experience in civil rights, according to job application materials obtained by the Globe.

The documents show that only 42 percent of the lawyers hired since 2003, after the administration changed the rules to give political appointees more influence in the hiring process, have civil rights experience. In the two years before the change, 77 percent of those who were hired had civil rights backgrounds.

The profile of the lawyers being hired has since changed dramatically, according to the resumes of successful applicants to the voting rights, employment litigation, and appellate sections. Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Globe obtained the resumes among hundreds of pages of hiring data from 2001 to 2006.

Hires with traditional civil rights backgrounds — either civil rights litigators or members of civil rights groups — have plunged. Only 19 of the 45 lawyers hired since 2003 in those three sections were experienced in civil rights law, and of those, nine gained their experience either by defending employers against discrimination lawsuits or by fighting against race-conscious policies.

Meanwhile, conservative credentials have risen sharply. Since 2003 the three sections have hired 11 lawyers who said they were members of the conservative Federalist Society. Seven hires in the three sections are listed as members of the Republican National Lawyers Association, including two who volunteered for Bush-Cheney campaigns.

Several new hires worked for prominent conservatives, including former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr, former attorney general Edwin Meese, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, and Judge Charles Pickering. And six listed Christian organizations that promote socially conservative views.

The changes in those three sections are echoed to varying degrees throughout the Civil Rights Division, according to current and former staffers.

Note that Savage only announced results for three sections. Our investigation took ten of the eleven sections into account.

And note his statistics: 42 percent from 77 percent, 19 out of 45. These differ in severity from our one statistic: 113 to 0. His data, later found to be part of a package of evidence found to be not worth prosecuting — and indeed representing an example of politically blind hiring rather than the opposite — helped him win a Pulitzer.

Another comparison between Savage’s work and ours deserves your attention: how was Savage able to gather the data for his Pulitzer-winning investigation? It doesn’t appear that he had to work terribly hard.

Presented with a Freedom of Information Act request, the Bush DOJ turned over the resumes plus hundreds of pages of hiring data to the Boston Globe within a few weeks, significantly ahead of the statutory FOIA deadline. The Bush DOJ redacted absolutely nothing, except the hires’ contact information.

During the Obama administration, FOIAs have proven to be notoriously — criminally? — hard to extract if the filer appears to be ideologically opposed to the administration. (But not so for fellow leftist travelers — PJMedia covered this very topic. Also see an interview with Adams on this.) Unlike Savage, PJMedia had to fight an almost year-long legal battle with the Most Transparent Administration in History to obtain the Civil Rights Division resumes of attorneys hired under Eric Holder:

In spring of 2010, PJ Media requested the exact same information from the DOJ that Charlie Savage requested in 2006 — except for hires made in the Obama DOJ. Recall the Bush administration turned over all the resumes of attorneys as fast as they could, and well before the statutory FOIA deadline.

PJM’s request was ignored. Then on October 13, 2010, the request was renewed by certified mail. Still, no response as required by law.

So on January 18, 2011, the case of PJ Media v. United States Department of Justice was filed in the United States District Court in D.C.

We finally received materials on May 13, 2011. But not everything – it included redactions and some material was missing. The FOIA was not fully complied with until July.

Has Charlie Savage, so terribly concerned with violations of the Civil Service Reform Act while George W. Bush was president, shown any interest in the hiring practices of the Eric Holder Civil Rights Division? Actually, he has — and he reported on it in a manner that only a delusional observer or one tasked with defending the DOJ from prosecution might.

On December 31, 2010, Christian Adams offered Savage some advice on this front:

Savage could bolster his credibility by making the same inquiries of this Justice Department as he did to the Bush DOJ. For starters, he could examine the preposterous hiring practices in the Civil Rights Division since Obama’s inauguration. The more time that passes without an inquiry from Savage and the New York Times, the more partisan his badgering of the Bush DOJ appears.

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