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.

I Hate to Say I Told You So…

In May of last year, I questioned whether, after Monica Goodling won immunity, we’d get anything from giving her immunity.

And as today’s article explains, in that role she has done a number of things that clearly violate federal employment practices. She has denied promotions to people who appear to be Democrats, has asked partisan questions in interviews for career positions, and she asked one nice Republican if he had ever cheated on his wife.

We’re about to excuse Monica all of these actions–actions which span six years of efforts to politicize DOJ–and in so doing, ensure that the IG investigation into these activities may expose further illegalities, but no actionable way to hold Goodling accountable for them. And what are going to get in exchange? What higher up is she going to deliver us, with her immunized testimony?

And in August of last year, I pointed out that all of the people who had politicized our government had resigned from the Administration–and therefore given the Administration immunity for having turned our government into an instrument of the Republican party.

by The Washington Post, enlisting political appointees at every level of government in a permanent campaign that was an integral part of his strategy to establish Republican electoral dominance.


Investigators, however, said the scale of Rove’s effort is far broader than previously revealed; they say that Rove’s team gave more than 100 such briefings during the seven years of the Bush administration. The political sessions touched nearly all of the Cabinet departments and a handful of smaller agencies that often had major roles in providing grants, such as the White House office of drug policy and the State Department’s Agency for International Development.

Well, so what? What are you going to do about it?

See, for the most part, we’re talking about civil Hatch Act violations. And the punishment for civil Hatch Act violations? To be fired from your job. Shall we review the names of those most involved in leading this process?

  • Karl Rove
  • Sara Taylor
  • Scott Jennings
  • Barry Jackson
  • Ken Mehlman
  • Susan Ralston

Rove, Taylor, Mehlman, and Ralston are gone, and Jackson is rumored to be leaving. Add in Monica Goodling, who only admitted to her massive Hatch Act violations after she resigned. So how are you going to hold the White House responsible for its massive Hatch Act violations, if the people involved have already mooted the only punishment available?

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The Smearmongers Who Took Down Chiara and Hagen Got Promoted to Main Justice

TPMM and LAT elaborate on what I reported yesterday–that the anti-gay discrimination described in yesterday’s Monica Goodling report was targeted at Margaret Chiara and Leslie Hagen. Both have interviews with Hagen’s attorney; the LAT did an interview with Chiara herself. And together, the LAT interviews describe the gossip-mongering of a few people within the USA office in Grand Rapids providing both the rumors that the women were in a gay relationship–and that Chiara’s management had created morale problems in Grand Rapids.

The report describes an alleged "sexual relationship" between a career prosecutor and a U.S. attorney, who were not named. Margaret M. Chiara, the former U.S. attorney in Grand Rapids, Mich., said in an interview with The Times that she now believed she was fired because of the erroneous belief that she was having a relationship with career prosecutor Leslie Hagen.

"I could not begin to understand how I found myself sharing the misfortune of my former colleagues," Chiara said of the eight other U.S. attorneys who were fired. "Now I understand."

Justice officials said after her firing that Chiara was let go because of mismanagement and because she had caused morale in her office to sink. Chiara said Monday she believed those concerns were raised by the same people who spread rumors about her and Hagen. [my emphasis]

Most troubling, though, is the suggestion from Lisa Banks, Hagen’s attorney, that the attorneys who started those rumors eventually won jobs at Main Justice.

Banks said she believed the rumors were started by other attorneys in the Grand Rapids office who eventually landed jobs at the Justice Department in Washington. [my emphasis]

How convenient. Someone plays to Monica Goodling’s narrow-mindedness and gives her a reason to fire Chiara–and they get moved up to DC. I wonder if they share an office with Rachel Paulose?

Monica’s Job History

The DOJ IG report provides more details than we’ve seen before of Monica Goodling’s entire work history. And when you look at it, it’s pretty damn clear that her primary purpose at DOJ was to politicize the department.

Here are the details the report gives. As we knew, Monica’s first job out of law school was doing oppo research for the RNC:

From 1999 to February 2002, she worked for the Republican National Committee (RNC) where she held the positions of research analyst, senior analyst, and deputy director for research and strategic planning. Among her duties was what she described on her résumé as “a broad range of political research.”

Her first job at DOJ was spin–working in the Public Affairs department with Libby’s future PR flack Barbara Comstock and Rove’s future PR flack Mark Corallo:

According to Goodling’s résumé, while at OPA she worked closely with the OAG regarding public communications about the Department’s work, including media events, press releases, speeches, and talking points.

Then, they shipped her across the Potomoc for a short sting in a US Attorney’s office–so she’d look like a "real" lawyer when future promotions became available.

In September 2004, Goodling began a 6-month detail as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the USAO for the Eastern District of Virginia, where she handled criminal felony and misdemeanor cases.

I believe the use of  "handled" here does not include actually "handling" anything in a courtroom–as I recall Monica testified before Congress she had no real prosecutorial experience.

But here’s the real tip-off about Monia’s career: they created a brand new political Deputy Director of EOUSA for her to move into in March 2005–at which position they had her approving waivers for AUSA hires requested by interim US Attorneys. 

The political Schedule C Deputy Director position for Goodling was a new position within EOUSA. Contemporaneous e-mails of senior managers within the OAG and ODAG indicate that OAG personnel approved Goodling’s appointment as a political Deputy Director.

Then finally, they institutionalized and expanded this institutionalized political hiring and firing function by moving it to the Attorney General’s office.

Goodling’s major responsibility as White House Liaison was to interview and process applicants for political positions in the Department. In that job, she also interviewed and was involved in the selection of career attorneys who were candidates for temporary details to various Department offices, and candidates for immigration judge and Board of Immigration Appeals positions. In Read more

Monica Goodling Helped the Terrorists Win

Apparently, in Monica Goodling’s world, Democrats are scarier than terrorists. That’s the only thing I can conclude from the news that Goodling even politicized the hiring of am EOUSA counter-terrorism position, resulting in the US being served by an unqualified hack rather than someone who knew something about terrorism.

For example, an experienced career terrorism prosecutor was rejected by Goodling for a detail to EOUSA to work on counterterrorism issues because of his wife’s political affiliations. Instead, EOUSA had to select a much more junior attorney who lacked any experience in counterterrorism issues and who EOUSA officials believed was not qualified for the position.

In a post 9/11 world, how did this go unmentioned? And what does President Bush plan to do about the fact that this woman helped the terrorists win?

The Monica Goodling Report

The Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s Office has released another of its reports on the politicization of DOJ under Bush. This one ought to be called the Monica Goodling report, as it focuses on her litmus test hiring. I’ll post some updates on the details, but here is the conclusion:

In sum, the evidence showed that Sampson, Williams, and Goodling violated federal law and Department policy, and Sampson and Goodling committed misconduct, by considering political and ideological affiliations in soliciting and selecting IJs, which are career positions protected by the civil service laws.

Not only did this process violate the law and Department policy, it also caused significant delays in appointing IJs. These delays increased the burden on the immigration courts, which already were experiencing an increased workload and a high vacancy rate. EOIR Deputy Director Ohlson repeatedly requested candidate names to address the growing number of vacancies, with little success. As a result of the delay in providing candidates, the Department was unable to timely fill the large numbers of vacant IJ positions.

We also concluded that Goodling committed misconduct when she provided inaccurate information to a Civil Division attorney who was defending a lawsuit brought by an unsuccessful IJ candidate. Goodling told the attorney that she did not take political factors into consideration in connection with IJ hiring, which was not accurate.

In addition, we concluded that Williams provided inaccurate information to us concerning her Internet research activities.

Because Goodling, Sampson, and Williams have resigned from the Department, they are no longer subject to discipline by the Department for their actions described in this report. Nevertheless, we recommend that the Department consider the findings in this report should they apply in the future for another position with the Department.

In addition, we concluded that EOUSA Deputy Director John Nowacki committed misconduct by drafting a proposed Department response to a media inquiry which he knew was inaccurate. Although Nowacki knew that Goodling had used political and ideological affiliations to assess career attorney candidates for EOUSA detail positions, he drafted a media statement in which the Department would have denied the allegations. Nowacki is still employed by the Department. Therefore, we recommend that the Department consider appropriate discipline for him based upon the evidence in this report.

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First DOJ IG Report on Politicization

Is here.

It shows that not just Monica Goodling, but Mike Elston and Bill Mercer and others at DOJ "crossed the line" into illegal behavior, using political affiliation in the hiring for a summer intern and AG’s Honors programs.

I’ll update as I read.

The report names Robert Coughlin–of the Abramoff corruption ring–as one of the people who may have used political affiliation in hiring–but the report ultimately does not conclude that he did.

Three career employees told us they were concerned that on one occasion Deputy Chief of Staff Robert Coughlin, a political official on the hiring committee, may have taken into account candidates’ political or ideological affiliations. One career employee wondered whether Coughlin rejected one highly qualified candidate because of the candidate’s liberal affiliations. Two other career employees wondered whether Coughlin voted to accept a less qualified candidate because of the candidate’s conservative and Republican Party affiliations. The candidate with liberal affiliations was rated highly by the career employees who interviewed him, but he did not receive an offer. Conversely, the candidate with conservative and Republican Party affiliations was not rated highly by the career employees who interviewed him yet received an offer of employment.

The career employees also told us that when they questioned Coughlin about his ranking of candidates during the group meeting in which the candidates were ranked, Coughlin stated that he was basing his recommendation on his reactions to the candidates’ interview demeanor and interview skills.

In our interview of him, Coughlin told us he never considered political or ideological affiliations in evaluating Honors Programcandidates. While Coughlin said he did not recall any details concerning the specific candidate with liberal affiliations, he recalled that he recommended the candidate with conservative affiliations because the candidate had received a strong recommendation from a previous internship with the Criminal Division and not because of the
candidate’s ideological affiliations.

We reviewed the two candidates’ applications and determined both candidates had been ranked as having strong credentials, such as federal appellate clerkships or high grades that indicated the candidates were qualified. In addition, Coughlin’s stated reasons to his colleagues and to us for his decisions – the strength of the candidates’ performances in interviews and high recommendations from a previous internship with the Department – can be appropriate bases to choose between two otherwise qualified candidates. Read more