Inspector General’s Report: DOJ Politicized Hiring

Ken AshfordAttorney FiringsLeave a Comment

This just in: A report from the inspector general — the result of an investigation into DOJ hiring practices over the last six years — alleges that “many qualified candidates” were rejected from an elite recruitment program because of perceived liberal bias. Here’s a story from the NYT’s Eric Lichtblau, and here’s an AP report. Click here for the 115-page report.

The hiring practices, which reportedly took place under both AG Ashcroft and AG Gonzales, “constituted misconduct and also violated the department’s policies and civil service law that prohibit discrimination in hiring based on political or ideological affiliations,” the report says.

Some snippets from the summary:

…[W]e concluded that McDonald committed misconduct and violated Department policies and civil service law by considering political or ideological affiliations in assessing Honors Program and SLIP candidates. (93)

[W]e concluded that Elston violated federal law and Department policy by deselecting candidates based on their liberal affiliations. (94)

We also concluded that Elston committed misconduct, and violated federal law and Department policy, when he deselected candidates and denied appeals based on his perception of the political or ideological affiliations of the candidates. (96)

We also concluded that OARM Director DeFalaise did not adequately or timely address the concerns that were brought to his attention concerning the Screening Committee’s deselections. (96)

Finally, we concluded that Acting Associate Attorney General Mercer did not adequately address the concerns that were brought to his attention by several senior Department officials that the Screening Committee’s deselections appeared to have been politicized. (97)…

When Fridman asked McDonald how she obtained the additional information, she told him she conducted searches on Google and MySpace, and read law review articles written by the applicants. For example, Fridman recalled that one candidate had written a law review article about the detention of individuals at Guantánamo, and McDonald noted on the application that she perceived the applicant’s viewpoint to be contrary to the position of the administration. On another application, McDonald noted that she found information on the Internet indicating that a candidate was an "anarchist." (78)

The OIG report also notes the destruction of documents pertaining to its investigation by the DOJ.

UPDATE:  Kevin Drum notes a graph showing the number of students from the American Constitutional Society (a liberal legal organization) who were approved/deselected from the "non-political program, as compared to those who were members of the Federalist Society.


Overall, of the applicants nominated, 70% of those who identified as Democrats were de-selected, 32% who identified as Neutral were deselected, and just 11% who identified as Republicans were deselected.

Yup.  A bit of a political bias there.