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Justice Dept. Auditor Gives Long Version Of Why Monica Goodling Broke Law

Attention summer beach readers: As JJ mentioned in his "State of Play" post, the Justice Dept. inspector general released an eight-chapter, 146-page report today on how the Attorney General’s office of Alberto Gonzales illegally played politics with its hiring. We’ve known for more than a year that Monica Goodling, the former Justice Dept. White House liaison, and Kyle Sampson, chief of staff for Gonzales and Goodling’s immediate supervisor, violated federal govt. policy — and federal law — by taking into account the political affiliations of candidates for career Dept. positions. Today’s report, though, details Goodling’s remarkable lack of subtlety in her zeal for a more Republican Justice Dept.

The report gives eight instances where candidates who qualified for positions like counter-terrorism prosecutor and asst. U.S. attorneys were turned down by Goodling due to questions about their GOP loyalty. Goodling gave each of these employees interview questions like "Aside from the President, give us an example currently or recently of someone in public service that you admire" and "Why are you a Republican?" Several prospective employees told the inspector general that Goodling often steered the conversation to questions about abortion and gay marriage. For instance, one employee might have thought they were displaying their GOP bona fides by naming Condoleezza Rice as their most admired politician. But Goodling "frowned" and replied "but she’s pro-choice."

Goodling also performed Lexis Nexis searches on prospective candidates by typing in their names in tandem with words like "abortion," "gay," and "homosexual." She also mined www.opensecrets.org for prospective employee’s political contributions.

Goodling and Sampson both left the Justice Dept. in 2007, and Justice has, obviously, vowed that such hiring shenanigans will not happen again. Goodling, who was granted immunity when she testified to Congress in May 2007, did not grant an interview to the Justice IG. It’s not yet clear whether the report means criminal charges for her, Sampson, or Gonzales.

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