News & Politics

Gov. Watchdog: Obama DOJ Refused to Hire Two Veterans, Pressured Them to Withdraw

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch places her hand over her heart as the National Anthem is played. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) issued a shocking report last week showing that the Obama Justice Department discriminated against two military veterans seeking two positions within the department — even though under federal law the vets should have gotten preferential consideration for the jobs.

According to the report, the Obama DOJ tried to force the two applicants to withdraw their applications for jobs in the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program. When they didn’t, the DOJ removed the job postings and rewrote the positions purposefully excluding the veterans.

When the veterans declined to withdraw, DOJ selected the non-veteran candidate, despite rules mandating that veterans receive priority in hiring over non-veterans in certain circumstances. After DOJ human resources staff refused to process the selection of the non-veteran, DOJ re-announced the positions with new qualification requirements that effectively excluded all veterans who applied. During the course of its investigation, OSC sought and obtained a stay from the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board to ensure that DOJ did not fill the positions while OSC investigated.

OSC found that DOJ attempted to influence the veterans to withdraw from competition in violation of 5 U.S.C.  2302(b)(5). OSC also found that DOJ violated 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(11), which prohibits recommending a personnel action that would violate a veterans’ preference requirement, when it selected the non-veteran candidate.

OSC recommended disciplinary and corrective action for the violations, including appropriate training for DOJ staff. Additionally, OSC advised DOJ to consult with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) about the appropriate use of the qualification criteria DOJ utilized when it re-announced the two positions.

According to The Washington Times, the ICITAP officials “told investigators they didn’t try to pressure the veterans, but instead explained why they should withdraw.”

OSC investigators said even if that was what happened, it still violated the law. The re-listing of the jobs was also sketchy, but not a clear violation of the law, the OSC said.

Shameful — but not surprising after eight years of the Obama DOJ selectively following and enforcing laws.

The watchdog said the DOJ took action consistent with their recommendations after receiving the reports of the investigation.