May 25, 2007

Schumer, Feinstein & Whitehouse Demand Answers About Justice Hiring Practices on Gonzales’ Watch

Senators Ask Attorney General What He Knew About Inappropriate, Unethical and Possibly Illegal Practice

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to reveal what he knew about inappropriate, unethical and possibly illegal hiring practices occurring at the Justice Department under his watch.

Earlier this week, Monica Goodling, a former Justice Department aide and White House liaison, admitted in testimony before the before the House Judiciary Committee that she “crossed the line” in considering political ideology when interviewing applicants for career attorney positions, even going so far as researching political campaign contributions.

The Senators sent their questions to the Attorney General in a letter released today, which is reproduced below.

The Honorable Alberto R. Gonzalez

Attorney General of the United States

U.S. Department of Justice 9

50 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Gonzales:

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from your former senior aide, Ms. Monica M. Goodling. Her testimony raised a number of serious questions concerning the inner workings of the Department of Justice.

Ms. Goodling admitted that the Justice Department, under your watch, “crossed the line” by routinely using political considerations in the hiring of career attorneys, judges and other non-political staff. Indeed, she stated that she had regularly asked political questions of applicants for career positions, even going so far as researching potential employees’ campaign contributions.

It appears that the implementation of such political litmus tests was an open secret at the Department. Former officials have testified that they heard rumors to that effect, and the Washington Post yesterday reported that concerns about Ms. Goodling’s behavior were raised directly with your former Chief of Staff, D. Kyle Sampson.

These facts raise troubling questions about your role in this unprecedented politicization of the Justice Department, among them the following: When, if ever, did you become aware that improper political considerations, such as party affiliation, were possibly being used in the hiring of career staff? Who else in the Department of Justice was aware that politics were at play in the hiring of career staff? Did anyone at any time bring to your attention concerns about improper political considerations being used? If so, who did so and when? What concrete steps did you take, if any, to address this issue and when? We hope that you will quickly and publicly answer these very serious questions.





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