Justice Department expanding political hiring probe
Internal Department of Justice investigators are expanding their probe into hiring practices to include alleged improper political litmus tests applied to those seeking jobs within the department's Civil Rights Division, DOJ Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program, according to a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday.
"It is deeply troubling that the crisis of leadership at the department allowed the White House and others to wield political influence over key law enforcement decisions and hiring policies," Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said in a written statement. "It is unacceptable that a senior Justice Department official was allowed to screen career employees and some judicial appointments for political loyalty, and it confirms our worst fears about the unprecedented and improper reach of politics into the Department's professional ranks."
The letter from the Justice Department's Inspector General and a lawyer for its Office of Professional Responsibility comes in the wake of last week's testimony by Monica Goodling, the department's former White House liaison.
"Among the issues that we intend to investigate are allegations regarding Monica Goodling's and others' actions in DOJ hiring and personnel decisions; allegations concerning hiring for the DOJ Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program; and allegations concerning hiring practices in the DOJ Civil Rights Division," wrote Inspector General Glenn A. Fine and counsel H. Marshall Jarrett.
Goodling revealed in testimony to the House Judiciary Committee that she researched job-seekers' political views when they applied for jobs within the Justice Department. She said she interviewed job applicants as if they were applying for a political appointment, and if none were open she would recommend applicants for career postings, as RAW STORY reported last week.
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers said the expanded internal investigation "demonstrates the clear need for oversight" into the politicization of the department.
"Ms. Goodling's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee indicated that political litmus tests were administered to applicants for some career, nonpolitical positions within the Department," Conyers said in a prepared statement. "This gives me great concern and reinforces the need to continue with our investigation."