- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A former high-ranking official improperly sought to fill the Justice Department’s civil rights division with conservatives and later lied to Congress about it, according to a report released Tuesday by the department’s internal watchdogs.

It’s the fourth and final report that will be issued by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine and Office of Professional Responsibility Counsel H. Marshall Jarrett about politicized hirings and firings during the tumultuous term of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Previous reports found that politics played an inappropriate role in the department’s summer law intern program and the prestigious Honors Program, which brings young lawyers into the department. The most controversial report concluded that politics played a part in the firings of several U.S. attorneys. Those firings are now the subject of a criminal investigation.

In the report released Tuesday, the inspector general (IG) and Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that Bradley J. Schlozman, who served from 2003 to 2006 as deputy assistant attorney general and later as acting assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, violated federal civil service law and department policies that prohibit discriminating against political or ideological affiliations.

Mr. Schlozman will not face criminal prosecution.

The IG gave the report to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District, which conducted an investigation that included reviewing documents and interviewing witnesses not included in the IG report, said Patricia A. Riley, a spokeswoman for the office.

The U.S. attorney’s office investigated only whether Mr. Schlozman committed perjury during his testimony before Congress. It did not investigate accusations that he violated civil service law, which is not a criminal, prosecutable offense.

Ms. Riley said that the U.S. attorney’s office decided last week not to pursue criminal charges. She would not say why, citing an office policy that prohibits disclosing the reasons cases are not brought.

Though no criminal violations were found, the Justice Department appeared troubled by the report.

“The mission of the Justice Department is the evenhanded application of the Constitution and the laws enacted under it, and that mission has to start with the evenhanded application of the laws within our own department,” said Justice Department spokesman Peter A. Carr. “[Tuesday’s] report makes clear, Mr. Schlozman deviated from that strict standard.”

Mr. Schlozman, who resigned from the department in 2007 and is now in private practice in Missouri, strongly denied the accusations Tuesday.

In a written statement, Mr. Schlozman’s lawyer, William Jordan, blasted the report as inaccurate, incomplete, biased, unsupported by the law and contrary to the facts.

“He also provided the government with information showing over two dozen individuals he hired into the Division and promoted into senior supervisory positions that he knew to be either ideologically liberal or Democrats,” Mr. Jordan wrote. “Inexplicably and demonstrating the bias they have shown throughout this process, the IG included none of this information in the report.”

Mr. Jordan further disputed the report’s conclusion that Mr. Schlozman lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee when he testified that no improper political considerations played a role in his hirings.

“Mr. Schlozman even took a polygraph examination, which was provided to the government, that demonstrated his testimony before Congress was truthful and accurate,” his lawyer wrote. “As Mr. Schlozman testified, he hired individuals from across the political and ideological spectrum based upon their academic records, respect for the rule of law, and their ability to separate their personal views from the enforcement activities of the civil rights division.”

According to the report, Mr. Schlozman hired 63 attorneys who were either Republicans or conservatives and only two who were Democrats or liberals. However, investigators could not determine the political ideologies of 34 other lawyers he hired.

Investigators also found he moved three attorneys from the Appellate Section to make room for “real Americans.” All three were transferred back to the appellate section after Mr. Schlozman left the department.

The investigation did not look at whether political considerations improperly affected how cases were handled by the civil rights division. But investigators found that Mr. Schlozman handpicked conservative lawyers he hired to handle what he considered “important” cases and sought to limit assigning cases to people he described as liberals or “pinkos.”

In an e-mail sent regarding one case, Mr. Schlozman wrote: “The potential stakes are too great to entrust this to either a lib or an idiot.”

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