The Justice Department today released its fourth and final report on allegations of politicized hiring in the Justice Department. This report highlights a number of alleged abuses by Bradley Schlozman, who served in several top positions at department and briefly led the Civil Rights Division before resigning in August 2007.
Investigators in the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility and the Office of the Inspector General found that Schlozman considered political and ideological affiliations in hiring career attorneys, in violation of federal law and department policy, according to the 67-page report, which 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.
“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."
Schlozman, who joined the department in 2001 as counsel to Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, pointed to his own background, by way of example.
"Look, look at my résumé -- 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."
The report notes that Schlozman, through his counsel, declined to be interviewed by investigators.
Since the summer, Schlozman reportedly had been the subject of a grand jury investigation into possible perjury related to his testimony before a congressional committee investigating the U.S. attorney firings. The grand jury referral marked the first time that the internal probe into political meddling in the department eclipsed the investigative phase.
When asked during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing whether he considered political affiliation or ideology in department hiring, Schlozman answered pointedly that he did not. At the hearing, he also denied transferring three lawyers from the department’s appellate section based on their politics, a claim investigators also believe to be false.
The report says investigators referred their findings to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District for Columbia in March 2008. The office formally declined to prosecute the matter on Jan. 9 of this year, the report says.
In a statement, Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr called Schlozman's conduct "troubling" and said the attorney general agreed with the report's recommendations to reform hiring practices in the division.
"The mission of the Justice Department is the evenhanded application of the Constitution and the laws enacted under it, and that mission has to start with the evenhanded application of the laws within our own Department," Carr said. "As today’s report makes clear, Mr. Schlozman deviated from that strict standard."
Schlozman served as a deputy assistant attorney general, principal deputy assistant attorney general, and acting assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division while at Main Justice. He also served as interim U.S. attorney in Missouri’s Western District for a year. Schlozman is currently of counsel at Hinkle Elkouri in Wichita, Kan.
We’ll have more details on the report as we plow through it. Stay tuned.