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Every Single One: The Politicized Hiring of Eric Holder’s Compliance Section

All 5 new hires to the Justice Department's Coordination and Compliance Section have far-left resumes — which were only released following a PJMedia lawsuit. (This is the seventh in a series of articles about the Justice Department's hiring practices since President Obama took office. Read parts one, two, three, four, five, and six.)

by
J. Christian Adams

Bio

August 26, 2011 - 12:00 am

For several weeks, PJMedia has been publishing a series of articles on the ideological and partisan histories of attorney hires into the career civil service ranks of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division in the Obama administration. The articles have demonstrated the political and ideological litmus test being employed by those entrusted with hiring in the Division.

Every single new attorney hired has a history thick with left-wing activism.

Two previous pieces focused on the Voting Section, with additional segments on the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, the Special Litigation Section, the Education Section, and the Employment Litigation Section.

If the public had any idea just how politicized the Division has become under this administration, outrage would follow. I cover the policy ramifications of this ideological hiring frenzy in my forthcoming book Injustice. For now, here are more details about the people involved.

Today’s installment focuses on the new career attorneys hired into the Division’s Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, which until recently was known as the Coordination and Review Section, or “COR” in DOJ nomenclature. COR badgers state and municipal governments who receive federal funds — federal gripes follow federal gold. They also serve as the watchdog over the behavior of other federal agencies. The stated mission of COR is to “ensure that all federal agencies consistently and effectively enforce civil rights statutes and Executive Orders that prohibit discrimination in federally conducted and assisted programs and activities.”

Most of the Section’s resources are spent bullying educational institutions into complying with expansionist interpretations of Title IX, or coercing law enforcement agencies into providing expensive foreign language translation services. The Section during this administration has also managed to find time to demand that municipalities permit Muslim women to wear headscarves in court. For reasons of political expediency, jurisdictions rarely challenge the legality of the Executive Orders enforced by the Section. If they did, however, the Section’s work would decline precipitously.

Five new career attorneys have been hired into the Section since Holder took office. As is true of the new attorneys hired into every other section, there is not a single apolitical individual — let alone a conservative — in the bunch.

Non-liberals of course are free to apply; it’s just that their resumes are summarily discarded.

Sources familiar with hiring committee practices have told me that resumes of qualified people lacking the correct ideological worldview were discarded by the infamous Loretta King, then the acting assistant attorney general. The contrast with the bipartisan and ideologically diverse hiring practices of the Bush administration is incredibly stark. Here’s the proof:

Deanna Jang: Ms. Jang was recently hired as the new chief of the Section. She is a generous Democratic contributor, having given handsomely to the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John Kerry, the congressional reelection campaigns of ultra-liberals Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Mike Honda (D-CA), and to the left-wing political group America Coming Together.

Before arriving in the Civil Rights Division, she was the Policy Director of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, which was a major supporter of Obamacare. She also worked as a Policy Analyst for the Center for Law & Social Policy, an organization which “advocates for policies that support its vision of an America in which poverty is rare, there is justice for all, and all people can participate equally.” Before that, she served as a senior policy analyst at the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health & Human Services, a notorious hotbed of liberal activists.

Ms. Jang spent most of her career hopping from one left-wing advocacy group to another. She worked as a staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus, the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation, and the Asian Law Alliance. She was a special assistant to the militantly liberal (former) Commissioner Yvonne Lee at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and the chair of the National Immigration Project, which advocates on behalf of illegal aliens. A perfect fit for someone charged with enforcing regulatory mandates of dubious legal validity at the Department of Justice.

Laureen Dumadag Laglagaron: Ms. Laglagaron joined the Section from the Migration Policy Institute, where she managed a research project designed to marshal evidence against the government’s so-called “287(g) program,” which authorizes local law enforcement to assist federal authorities in enforcing our federal immigration laws. She previously worked at the ACLU in its Immigrant Rights Project and at the liberal Urban Institute in its Population Studies Center. She was named by Filipinas Magazine to be one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in America. The magazine described her as a “Filipino community and immigrant advocate.”

Michael Mulé: A member of the Latino Alliance, a Hispanic advocacy organization, Mr. Mulé arrived in the Section after having worked since law school graduation at the Empire Justice Center in upstate New York. This organization describes itself as:

A statewide, multi-issue, multi-strategy public interest law firm focused on changing the “systems” within which poor and low income families live. With a focus on poverty law, Empire Justice undertakes research and training, acts as an informational clearinghouse, and provides litigation backup to local legal services programs and community based organizations. As an advocacy organization, we engage in legislative and administrative advocacy on behalf of those impacted by poverty and discrimination. As a non-profit law firm, we provide legal assistance to those in need and undertake impact litigation in order to protect and defend the rights of disenfranchised New Yorkers.

Just another neutral Civil Rights Division attorney that employers can trust to treat them fairly and to conduct investigations in an objective and evenhanded manner. Or perhaps not.

Daria Neal: Ms. Neal joins the Section as a deputy chief after spending approximately six years as a senior counsel at the liberal Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (WLCCR), where she focused primarily on the organization’s Environmental Justice Project. Her blog posts on behalf of the WLCCR while attending the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen reveal an odd environmental militancy, and suggest that she likely spends much of her time channeling Al Gore. Just before her arrival at DOJ, she even authored a report for the organization — “The Time is Now: Implementation of Environmental Justice Policy In the Obama Administration” — in which she advocated for such an extreme environmental regulatory policy that countless companies would be put out of business and unemployment would balloon if any politician dared consider it.

She also continues to impart her out-of-the-mainstream views to students at Howard Law School, where she teaches an “Environmental Justice Seminar” focusing on the “intersection between civil rights and environmental laws.”

Kavitha Sreeharsha: Before joining the Civil Rights Division, Ms. Sreeharsha was a senior staff attorney at Legal Momentum, The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, a left-wing advocacy organization heavily funded by George Soros that fights to make abortions easier. She also worked extensively on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, canvassing for him in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia. In fact, she announced with glee to the newsletter of her law school’s civil justice clinic how much she had enjoyed campaigning for Obama and “working to turn Virginia blue.” She even found time to serve as a steering committee member of “South Asians for Obama” in both the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C.

Prior to her time with Legal Momentum, Ms. Sreeharsha served as a staff attorney at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, another liberal advocacy group that has been a vocal proponent of gay marriage and race-based assignment of students in public schools, and a vehement opponent of the enforcement of federal immigration laws. The group’s website suggests that deportation tends to separate families and destabilize communities. Might as well not enforce the law, then.

During law school, she interned for the liberal Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (a far-left organization whose website describes in depth the lobbying it undertakes on behalf of criminals), and Equal Rights Advocates (a liberal pro-abortion outfit that has spent substantial resources as of late trying to encourage the filing of dubious lawsuits against Wal-Mart).

In the previous segment of this PJ Media series, Hans von Spakovsky introduced a running tally of the newly hired Civil Rights Division career attorneys who have been chronicled to date. We have so far covered the 76 career attorneys who have been hired into six of the Division’s sections. A scoring update:

Leftist lawyers hired: 76.

Moderate, non-ideological, or conservative lawyers hired: 0.

All 76 have unequivocally liberal bona fides. Not a single one appears to have a conservative bone in his or her body. Not a single one even appears to be apolitical. It is truly extraordinary.

None of this is a mere coincidence. We are in the midst of a terribly struggling economy in which law firms have drastically cut back hiring and begun laying off countless associates and partners. Even the most prestigious white-shoe firms are thinning their herds. Reports from inside the Division suggest that some attorney vacancy announcements see close to 1,000 applications for one spot. Huge numbers of extremely bright attorneys are seeking refuge in the stability of government employment. Can anyone — other than the myopic partisans in the Civil Rights Division’s current leadership — realistically suggest that conservatives are not part of this group?

Of course not. Yet they have been categorically blackballed from employment in the Division.

For those who have followed this series, you know that much of the culpability rests with former Acting Assistant Attorney Loretta King. As I pointed out in a piece last week, King rewrote the hiring guidelines back in 2009, resulting in hiring committee members being forced to toss any resume that did not describe a radical background. She didn’t believe that lawyers who represented defendants in civil rights cases also have expertise in the law. She didn’t believe anyone who didn’t work for a left-wing group deserved to work in the Civil Rights Division.

Apologists of this disgrace say DOJ only wanted people “with experience in civil rights law.” That’s called a pretext. Plenty of lawyers have experience defending civil rights cases. Plenty of lawyers who didn’t work for left-wing groups have the willingness and dedication to enforce the law fairly.

The truth is that most of the “experience” this series has described is meaningless for a DOJ lawyer, except to do one thing: demonstrate their political and ideological allegiance with the Obama administration. Kavitha Sreeharsha’s work promoting abortion won’t have anything to do with litigating cases at DOJ. Daria Neal’s nutty environmental advocacy won’t help her win a case at DOJ. But it will give Eric Holder and DOJ political appointees comfort they are hiring fellow travelers who will try to move the law, who will work to aid the political aims of the administration.

It’s almost amusing that, in this environment, the Department’s internal watchdogs have suddenly gone silent. The liberal former Civil Rights Division attorney Tamara Kessler who spearheaded the Office of Professional Responsibility’s review of the Bush administration’s hiring practices must have a permanent smile etched on her face. Although she has largely been discredited after her draft report examining the legal memoranda prepared by top DOJ attorneys on “enhanced interrogation techniques” was publicly rebuked by the Department’s senior career official, the fact that her office stands mute while outright chicanery is being committed in the Holder Civil Rights Division is an undeniable stain on the Department.

Hopefully the ongoing inspector general investigation of politicization in the Holder Civil Rights Division will see fit to right the record. This country deserves better.

J. Christian Adams is an election lawyer who served in the Voting Rights Section at the U.S. Department of Justice. His New York Times bestselling book is Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department (Regnery).  His website is www.electionlawcenter.com. Follow him on Twitter @electionlawctr.
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