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Sen. Grassley Presses Loretta Lynch on DOJ Attorney Misconduct

PJ Media has been reporting on the gross misconduct of various Department of Justice lawyers and officials - including lawyers who participated in sock-puppet blogging campaigns during the trial of New Orleans police officers.  Others who committed perjury in internal Department of Justice Inspector General investigations.  Senator Grassley wants to know why these individuals are still on the DOJ payroll.

In written questions to Loretta Lynch, Grassley wants answers. You decide whether or not he got them. From Grassley's written questions:

55. Department of Justice attorneys have a great deal of power and discretion but I am concerned that without proper oversight, this power and authority can be abused without consequences. For example, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General (IG) does not have the ability to investigate attorney misconduct. Rather, attorney misconduct is currently investigated by the Office of Professional Responsibility but this office does not have the same strong statutory independence as the IG. Currently, there are at least three examples of attorneys who remain employed by the Department despite evidence that these attorneys committed serious misconduct.

a. A Federal judge found that Karla Dobinski, a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division, engaged in a “wanton reckless course of action” when she posted commentsto Nola.com news stories under a pseudonym about a trial where she provided  evidence as a disinterested expert witness.  If confirmed, what steps will you take to ensure that appropriate disciplinary action is taken in this case, and will you pledge to provide updates to this committee about the status?

Loretta Lynch's response:

Consistent with the positions taken by previous Attorneys General, across Administrations, I support the role of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) in investigating attorney misconduct. OPR has been recognized consistently as a strong, independent entity within the Department that has a long and distinguished history of investigating allegations of attorney misconduct and recommending appropriate punishment. I understand that OPR is unique in that it has a singular focus on investigating attorney misconduct. If confirmed, I will commit to ensuring that the Department holds accountable any employees who are found to have committed misconduct.

We'll report on whether Dobinski still has a $160,000 per year job a few months after Lynch is confirmed, if she is confirmed.

Dobinski DOJ Lawyer Karla Dobinski

Grassley also asks why Voting Section staff who committed perjury in an internal investigation and mocked the State of Mississippi are still employed:

b. Stephanie Celandine Gyamfi, an attorney with the Department’s Voting Rights section, was found to have engaged in perjury during a 2013 DOJ IG investigation. In addition, Ms. Gyamfi posted comments regarding an ongoing matter at the Voting Rights section suggesting that the State of Mississippi should change its motto to “disgusting and shameful.” If confirmed, what steps will you take to ensure that appropriate disciplinary action is taken in this case, and will you pledge to provide updates to this committee about the status?

Lynch's response:

As the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, I am not familiar with the details of this matter, so I am not in a position to know what personnel actions have taken place to date or whether they were appropriate. If I am confirmed as Attorney General, I will commit to ensuring that the Department holds accountable any employees who are found to have committed misconduct.

Stay tuned.