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Civil Wrongs in the Bush DOJ

Remember Brad Schlozman, Bush’s dubious head of the Justice Department Civil Rights division?

Schlozman has acknowledged in sworn congressional testimony that he had boasted of hiring Republicans and conservatives, but he denied taking improper actions against the division’s career officials. …

Schlozman’s efforts to hire political conservatives for career jobs throughout the division are now being examined as part of a wide-ranging investigation of the Bush administration’s alleged politicization of the Justice Department. The department’s inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility confirmed last month that their inquiry, begun in March, will look at hiring, firing and legal-case decisions in the division.


To Bradley Schlozman, they were "mold spores," "commies" and "crazy libs."… "My tentative plans are to gerrymander all of those crazy libs right out of the section," he said in an e-mail in 2003. "I too get to work with mold spores, but here in Civil Rights, we call them Voting Section attorneys," he confided to another friend.

He hoped to get rid of the "Democrats" and "liberals" because they were "disloyal" and replace them with "real Americans" and "right-thinking Americans."

He appears to have succeeded by his standards, according to an inspector general’s report released Tuesday…

And what standards would those be? Well, Schlozman apparently felt really strongly that the Civil Rights Division was way too worried about civil rights.

Owing to new division policy and his own initiative, Schlozman played a key role in hiring 99 attorneys, 64 percent of which were Republican or conservative, according to the report. The report was completed in July and draws from thousands of pages of documents related to department hiring, more than 200,000 e-mails and interviews with more than 120 current and former employees.

Section chiefs told investigators that Schlozman pulled lawyers off cases or transferred them to other sections for being "disloyal" or "treacherous" to his agenda.

Throughout the report, Schlozman is portrayed as having a remarkable aversion to job applicants with deep civil rights backgrounds or division attorneys whose politics conflicted with his own, some of whom in the Voting Rights Section he referred to as "mold spores."

"Schlozman favored applicants with conservative political or ideological affiliations and disfavored applicants with civil rights or human rights experience whom he considered to be overly liberal," the report says.

In one particularly revealing instance, Schlozman told a subordinate that "relevant experience" was not necessarily a resume-booster: "When we start asking about, ‘What is your commitment to civil rights?’ … How do you prove that?’ Usually by membership in some crazy liberal organization or by some participation in some crazy cause," according to one e-mail…

"Look, look at my resume — I didn’t have any demonstrated commitment, but I care about the issues. So, I mean, I just want to make sure we don’t start confining ourselves to, you know, politburo members because they happen to be a member of some, you know, psychopathic left-wing organization designed to overthrow the government."

And he also has some issues with, well – from the report (pdf)

Special Litigation Section Chief Cutlar told us that Schlozman also talked to her about Attorney A’s transfer. According to Cutlar, Schlozman said that Attorney A was "a Democrat in hiding and is not going to hide in my Appellate Section." Cutlar also told us that Schlozman said that Attorney A "wrote in Ebonics," "was an idiot," and "was an affirmative action thing." … Attorney A graduated magna cum laude from a top law school… Attorney A had received positive annual performance appraisals for the period 2001 through 2004 while in the Appellate Section, including a notation that she had "strong analytical and writing skills" and a commendation for "an excellent job in . . . one of the most important Establishment Clause cases decided by the Supreme Court in recent years . . ."

Voting Section Chief John Tanner sent an e-mail to Schlozman asking Schlozman to bring coffee for him to a meeting both were scheduled to attend. Schlozman replied asking Tanner how he liked his coffee. Tanner’s response was, "Mary Frances Berry style – black and bitter." Berry is an African-American who was the Chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from November 1993 until late 2004. Schlozman forwarded the e-mail chain to several Department officials (including Principal DAAG Bradshaw) but not Acosta, with the comment, "Y’all will appreciate Tanner’s response."

The report concludes that not only did he illegally politicize his division, he lied to congress about it

Schlozman discusses his ethics with
a congressional committee

The evidence in our investigation showed that Schlozman, first as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General and subsequently as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General, considered political and ideological affiliations in hiring career attorneys and in other personnel actions affecting career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division. In doing so, he violated federal law – the Civil Service Reform Act – and Department policy that prohibit discrimination in federal employment based on political and ideological affiliations, and committed misconduct…

Moreover, Schlozman made false statements about whether he considered political and ideological affiliations when he gave sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and in his written responses to supplemental questions from the Committee.

Schlozman, humorously enough, says that he’s been exonerated by last week’s decision of the US Attorney’s office under George W. Bush not to prosecute. Not funny? Oh, sure it is. See, the whole investigation sprang out of this

Todd Graves brought just four misdemeanor voter fraud indictments during his five years as the US attorney for western Missouri — even though some of his fellow Republicans in the closely divided state wanted stricter oversight of Democratic efforts to sign up new voters.

Then, in March 2006, Graves was replaced by a new US attorney — one who had no prosecutorial experience and bypassed Senate confirmation. Bradley Schlozman moved aggressively where Graves had not, announcing felony indictments of four workers for a liberal activist group on voter registration fraud charges less than a week before the 2006 election.

Republicans, who had been pushing for restrictive new voting laws, applauded. But critics said Schlozman violated a department policy to wait until after an election to bring voter fraud indictments if the case could affect the outcome, either by becoming a campaign issue or by scaring legitimate voters into staying home.

Schlozman is emerging as a focal point of the investigation into the firing of eight US attorneys last year — and as a symbol of broader complaints that the Bush administration has misused its stewardship of law enforcement to give Republicans an electoral edge.

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