Monica Goodling Finally Gets Reprimanded

According to the Virginia Bar and in a filing that she agreed with, Monica Goodling committed “a criminal or deliberately wrongful act” that reflected badly on her “honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law.”

Monica Marie Goodling, the key figure in the controversy about the political hiring and firing of U.S. Attorneys during the Bush Administration, has received a public reprimand from the Virginia State Bar.

A VSB subcommittee concluded that Goodling, a member of the VSB since 1999, had violated ethics rules by committing “a criminal or deliberately wrongful act” that reflected adversely on her “honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law.” The subcommittee’s reprimand, to which Goodling agreed, was handed down in March and made public late yesterday.

Mind you, they stopped short of finding it an illegal act, largely because she broke civil service rules rather than other criminal laws.

And maybe it doesn’t matter, since she’s working in market research now and not–unlike Kyle Sampson, for example–practicing law.

But labeling what Goodling and others did to politicize the Bush DOJ as “criminal or deliberately wrongful” is at least a start to describing what they did.

  1. rugger9 says:

    One small step for a Bushie, a giant leap for expectations.

    Federal frog marching would be better, but in the current “don’t look back” environment, it will be the locals to push this along (kind of like the foreclosure heist). Also curious to me is why Cuccinelli couldn’t find a way to spike this investigation of a proven fellow-believer, doesn’t the Virginia AG have some pull with the Virginia Bar? It’s the kind of loose thread that leads to other prosecutions, which is why the GOP generally fights everything tooth and nail.

  2. fatster says:

    O/T with apologies. Wonder if this will result in a reprimand.

    Congress to discuss use of Geronimo’s name in Bin Laden mission

    “A congressional oversight hearing originally scheduled to discuss, among other things, how indigenous-themed sports mascots have negatively influenced the perception of Native Americans, will now also address the linking of the name Geronimo to Osama bin Laden.”


    • BoxTurtle says:

      Brings back memories of the investigation when the secret service gave Jesse Jackson the code name ‘pontiac’.

      It’s a silly waste of time. We should get congress to put together a list of acceptable code names and then pick randomly from the list in the future.

      Boxturtle (Just like we did with Hurricanes)

      • bobschacht says:

        It’s a silly waste of time. We should get congress to put together a list of acceptable code names and then pick randomly from the list in the future.

        Um, speaking of silly wastes of time, this would be a prime example.

        What was that Federal “operation” about a month ago that had a ridiculous code name that Rachel Maddow eventually did an exegesis on, unmasking a process essentially like the one you are suggesting?

        Or was there an implicit snark tag that I missed?

        Bob in AZ

        • BoxTurtle says:

          No snark. The implication was that if we made the list Congress would only waste time on it once, rather then each time a code name generates bad publicity.

          Massive unemployment, three more or less declared wars, at least two other wars and congress is doing this.

          Boxturtle (Or we could just be asshats and have every code name in the moslem world refer to the crusades)

        • ducktree says:

          It was the name chosen for the “kinetic military” bowel movement in Libya called Operation Odyssey Dawn. Sounds impressive, eh? But in reality the name was created from two separate lists of random words that are chosen when the occasion demands. Meaningless nevertheless. (:>

  3. JohnLopresti says:

    There is a whole stable of ex-Bushco-DoJ people in the state of Virginia. A year ago, a TPM post about anti-vote specialist Hans von Spakovsky spurred that non-rebuttal rebuttal from the Republicans* vote suppressor darling, who morphed into being an elections official in Fairfax county.

    • liberaldem says:

      I remember reading the DOJ’s Inspector General’s report on Ms. Goodling and her wrecking crew, and am glad that she received the reprimand. It doesn’t begin to make up for the harm she did at DOJ, but it’s a start.

      She’s a disgrace to the legal profession.

  4. BoxTurtle says:

    Oo! I bet that slap on the hand hurt!

    Boxturtle (I bet she feels slighted, almost all the other Bushies got Sternly Worded Letters)

  5. scribe says:

    All lightheartedness aside, it should do everyone well to remember a couple things.

    First, for the rest of her miserable dessert-baking, ice-cream social at the Ashcroft’s, Betty Crocker fucking life, she can be referred to as “the unethical Monica Goodling”, “the dishonest Monica Goodling”, “the untrustworthy Monica Goodling”, “Monica Goodling, who admitted being dishonest under oath before Congress” and similar, as well as just calling her a proven (admitted) liar. (Just like the unethical Newt Gingrich, FWIW. And just like the convicted felon and perjurer I. “Scooter” Libby. Good company.) Ordinarily, any of the honorifics I listed above would provide sufficient justification for her to start a libel suit, as these would be considered defamatory per se. But, since she’s admitted she’s unethical, dishonest, untrustworthy and possibly unfit to practice law, she’s fair game. She’ll get really tired of them after a while, but there’s no point in stopping their use. If you don’t hold up deviancy to ridicule or discipline, deviancy becomes the norm. And when she shows up on Fox, we can remind everyone about Fox’ low standards using her as an exemplar.

    Second, any time she goes under oath, she gets to be cross-examined to the effect of “you’ve previously lied under oath, correct?” and “You’ve admitted to unethical, dishonest, untrustworthy conduct, correct?” and she has to answer yes. Gets into a lawsuit over a car accident – has to admit it. Gets to have the judge charge the jury they might want to consider her previous dishonesty when deciding the case. Applies for a job – particularly a legal one – has to disclose it. Applies to a bar in a new state – has to disclose it. Has to live with it. This will get to be a real pain in the ass. It might even affect her credit rating.

    Not that this will adversely affect her in “market research” – I think their reputation for honesty is somewhere down with public relations professionals and used car salesmen. They’ll probably welcome her as a sister-in-arms.

    And, finally, this kind of disposition of an attorney ethics proceeding bears all the hallmarks of a plea deal. She and her ethics counsel made a deal with the attorney ethics police to dispose of a case which might well have led to more serious discipline (like a suspension or the remote chance of disbarment) after a full-blown ethics trial. (Yes, they do try those cases, but it’s usually done in a conference-room setting, not a full-up courtroom.) The thing is, no one wakes a plea deal unless they think they can get off more lightly than after a trial, which means the ethics police had her. You see these “discipline by consent” when the attorney says “You got me. Let’s resolve this.” The ethics trial would have (a) created a record (and no one wants that) and (b) cost her a hell of a lot of money. My suspicion is she’s likely economizing (As did Alberto Gonzales, who on leaving the job as Attorney General of the United States wound up a glorified law clerk to a special master in some patent suit (i.e., a pity job) after being jobless for over a year because no one would touch him.).

    As attorney discipline goes, this is serious enough – the vast majority of cases get disposed of without any (public) discipline and there’s a small distance between a reprimand and disbarment.

    So, while it only looks like a slap on the wrist, remember this – it will go into the Reports and be there forever. There are a lot of attorneys whose only mark in history is the disposition of their ethics proceedings recorded in the Reports. Not a great way to go.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      All true. However:

      1) The political gaming she did is still largely in place.

      2) She does not have to testify against BushCo.

      3) She does not face jail time.

      4) Given what she COULD say if she chose to talk, wingnut welfare will take care of her.

      5) A lawyer who will keep her mouth shut and take the hit for her patron will always find work

      Boxturtle (I’m a cynic. Does it show?)

      • scribe says:

        A lawyer who will keep their mouth shut and take the hit for their patron is an idiot, is treated as such by the Bar and his/her clients (including and especially the one he took a hit for), is soon out of business (because no one wants a chump like that for a lawyer), and often soon is no longer a lawyer.

        The dishonest Monica falls straight into this category. Even Scooter and Cheney working together couldn’t blackmail Bush into a full pardon. Scooter lost his license – who knows how he’s paying the mortgage. Bush is giggling and Scooter is struggling, and the wingnut welfare lasts only so long as there’s blackmail potential in the stuff the recipient knows. It’s not that different than the Mob boss promising to take care of the soldier’s family while the soldier’s upstate serving 10 to 20. A few years in, once that soldier’s knowledge is old news, the family gets forgotten.

        One of the standard lines you hear from lawyers to clients (I don’t know how many hundreds of times I myself have said it) is “I’m not going to jail for you.” or “I’m not risking my license for you”. This usually comes up in the context of the client proposing the lawyer do something to ease the pain to the client of the client’s misdeeds, which act would risk the lawyer going to jail or being disciplined.

        Her best hope is that her (fewish) years of work in lawyering (not an easy profession when it comes to wear and tear) have not dimmed her looks too much and that some wingnut Jesus-cultist will marry her and let her get on to birthing babies and making desserts. Because she has already long since hit the high point of her career as a lawyer.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          All that Breck shampoo notwithstanding, wingnut welfare can soften a lot of bad landings from errant, unprofessional conduct. But given the conservatism of bar associations generally and of Virginia’s in particular, this is a belated positive step.

          It’s taken two years to convince public authorities in the UK that a policeman might have caused the unlawful killing of someone he thought was a demonstrator, who was really a newsagent on his way home from work. It took 31 years to release the internal police report about a London demonstrator (Blair Peach) unlawfully killed by the police in 1979.

          I just wish the government weren’t throwing sand into gears that already grind slowly, if exceedingly fine.

      • fatster says:

        You are not a cynic. You’re an acute observer who also happens to have a fine discernment of the difference between sh*t and shinola.

  6. Shoto says:

    she’s working in market research now

    In other words, going to lunch, dinner and GOP fundraisers. Hey…it’s tough all over…

  7. onitgoes says:

    Any time a Regent “University Law School” grad gets any kind of public spanking is a good thing. Goes without saying that Goodling deserved way worse than this light tap on the wrist, which includes a smidge of public shaming. But in these days of WTF (winning the future) by only looking forward, I suppose this is as a good as it’s gonna get. sigh…

    P.S. to Scribe @9 & 11: now stop holding back and tell us how ya really feel!! (I agree: what you hear is my applause!)

    • scribe says:

      Let’s not go near “spanking”, lest we go down the road toward that word that got EW banned from MSNBC.

  8. Teddy Partridge says:

    Ours is an amazing legal culture in America when this is the best that can be hoped for from a process designed from the start to protect members of the guild. Despite her having to disclose it forevermore, and our use of it as scribe describes above, she has a fine career ahead in market research or whatever other wingnut welfare of the non-legal kind she can garner.

    The woman should be in prison. She described, to a Congressional committee, her oath of office as an oath she took to President Bush.

    Her punishment, light or heavy though it may weigh on her personally, is a green light to other lawyers to act with impunity. It’s a sad day.

  9. jo6pac says:

    Well I’m sure thankful for this news since doj is such a wonderful place and doing a great job under 0;)

  10. Jim says:

    It’s nice to have a reminder of how complicit Obama has been in helping war criminals get away with murder and abuse the DOJ. This is ‘justice’ in the Neocrat universe.

  11. Mary says:

    The bigger thing to keep in mind is that the only lawyers who are getting any kind of slaps are those whose activities ended up being a punch at OTHER LAWYERS, more to the point, other DOJ lawyers.

    The Exec branch message is pretty much along the lines of – “engage in conspiracies to kidnap and torture – include torture killings of – brown people and lie like hell about it and destroy evidence to boot, and you’re Golden; engage in lies to judges and violations of felony laws and the constitution with respect to illegal searches and seizures of American in America and even stand up and lie to the Supreme Court about torture, and you’re Golden: but if you interfere with the careers of other DOJ lawyers – be careful, bc they might have the pull to get you disciplined.

    I guess you could look at it as something, that Monica got her wrist slapped but to me that is still all part and parcel of the DOJ “we are above all and can engage in any kind of criminal conspiracy or cover up or lies to other branches we want – as long as the fallout is only that *others* end up dead or disappeared or lied to. But by damn, if you take a potshot at another DOJ lawyer, it might come back to bite your butt.

    I’m not sure that’s such a reassuring meassge in the end.

    • bobschacht says:

      …to me that is still all part and parcel of the DOJ “we are above all and can engage in any kind of criminal conspiracy or cover up or lies to other branches we want – as long as the fallout is only that *others* end up dead or disappeared or lied to. But by damn, if you take a potshot at another DOJ lawyer, it might come back to bite your butt.

      Gee golly whiskers, and here all those years I thought it was the *Courts* who decided what the law is. Now I get it! It’s really the *DOJ* who decides what the law is! After all, if the DOJ won’t prosecute, what does it matter if there’s a law?

      Bob in AZ

  12. marcospinelli says:

    Let’s remember, too, that our current president, on the heels of the most criminal and corrupt administration in the nation’s history, did not replace Bush-era US attorneys (as is the custom and practice with any new administration). As a result, we get Bush-style obscenity prosecutions like this one.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ms. Goodling administered loyalty oaths, not oaths to fulfill the responsibilities of public prosecutor:

    Monica Goodling, a previously unknown Justice Department official who served as liaison to the White House, has become a key figure in the Attorneygate scandal. When newly released emails revealed the prominent role Goodling played in engineering the firing of seven US Attorneys, Goodling pled the Fifth Amendment, refusing to testify under oath.

    “Why are you a Republican?” “Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice and why?” “What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve Jesus him?”

    Even when nominally legal – they were at best questionable when asked of would be career rather than political DoJ appointees – such questions were designed to screen for impermissible political loyalties. They went far beyond asking whether a candidate was a member in the victor’s party. She wanted acolytes who would serve her lord and his anointed president.

    Worse, she was encouraged by those who knew better to believe that was doing her job rather than prostituting it. Barbara Comstock was her boss.

    Ms. EW was prescient in her 2007 comment, surveying Kyle Sampson remarkably spotty memory in his congressional testimony before Sen. Schumer:

    Two “not awares,” four “don’t remembers,” two “don’t remember being awares,” and one “don’t have any recollection,” by my count. Zero “no’s.”

    I hate to keep harping on this point. But it seems pretty damn likely that Monica Goodling was right at the center of the inappropriate politicization of career DOJ employees.

    You see, I think it highly likely that one of the reasons Goodling is pleading the Fifth is because she caused Paul McNulty to commit perjury. But another reason–a much bigger one, given the centrality of the politicization of DOJ hiring to the scandal surrounding the USA purge, is because she committed regular violations of the laws in place to prevent the politicization of our career employees.

  14. Bustednuckles says:

    God Bless ya Marcy.
    Every bit of disclosure about what we went through back then and the resulting findings give me a tiny bit of hope and you are truly an inspiration for following these things.

  15. TheOracle says:

    Monica Goodling (and Kyle Sampson, and who knows who else) politicized the Department of Justice, violating the Hatch Act multiple times, in an attempt to plant as many loyal, litmus-test-passing conservative Republicans as possible at the DOJ.

    So, how many other Monica Goodling-like conservative Republicans were pulling the same stunt at other federal agencies, people that we’ve never heard anything about, even as they cherry-picked hirees at these agencies in a similar attempt to plant as many loyal, litmus-test-passing conservative Republicans at that agency as possible to fill career civil service jobs?

    IOW, if Monica Goodling (and Kyle Sampson) were doing this for years at the DOJ, why wouldn’t other conservative Republicans have been doing the same thing throughout the executive branch at all other federal agencies during the Bush/Cheney years?

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Imagine all the moles that Monica and Kyle “left behind’. It would make a better series of gothic novels than its namesake.

    • bobschacht says:

      How many Monica & Kyle left behinds are still working for the DOJ? How many civil service, and how many political?

      Might be instructive.

      Bob in AZ