Like Pinocchio’s Nose, Prosecutor Purge Scandal Keeps Growing

Brian Zick

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Greg Gordon and Margaret Talev for McClatchy report: Congressional investigators are beginning to focus on accusations that a top civil rights official at the Justice Department illegally hired lawyers based on their political affiliations, especially for sensitive voting rights jobs.Two former department lawyers told McClatchy Newspapers that Bradley Schlozman, a senior civil rights official, told them in early 2005, after spotting mention of their Republican affiliations on their job applications, to delete those references and resubmit their resumes. Both attorneys were hired.One of them, Ty Clevenger, said: "He wanted to make it look like it was apolitical." (…) Attention is turning to Schlozman after the announcement last week that the Justice Department opened an internal investigation to determine whether Monica Goodling, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' White House liaison, illegally took party affiliation into account in hiring entry-level prosecutors. The department's inspector general and its Office of Professional Responsibility are conducting that inquiry jointly.Federal law and Justice Department policies bar the consideration of political affiliation in hiring of personnel for non-political, career jobs. (…) Several former department lawyers assailed his treatment of senior employees and his rollback of longstanding policies aimed at protecting African-American voting rights. They blame him for driving veteran attorneys, including section chief Joseph Rich, to resign from their posts. (…) Schlozman's hiring favored lawyers "with one primary characteristic - links to the Republican Party and right-wing groups," said David Becker, who left the section the same day as Rich."The lawyers hired by Schlozman, in virtually every case, had very little litigation experience, lesser academic credentials and, if they had any civil rights experience, it was in opposing the enforcement of civil rights laws," Becker told McClatchy.

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