Former officials call for investigation into political hiring at DOJ

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Former Department of Justice officials are calling for an investigation into current hiring practices, which they say have become politicized under Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration.

Pajamas Media conducted an analysis of the resumes of hired individuals in five Civil Rights Division sections. The conservative media outfit was only able to obtain the documents after filing a federal lawsuit in response to DOJ’s 10-month delay in responding to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Based on their investigation, the researchers found that every single new hire — 70 in all — boasted far-left résumés. They found no conservative or apolitical new hires in the Voting Section (16 hires), the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (5 hires), the Special Litigation Section (23 hires), the Education Section (11 hires), or the Employment Section (15 hires).

“The Department’s political leadership clearly recognized that the resumes of these new attorneys would expose the hypocrisy of the Obama administration’s polemical attacks on the Bush administration for supposedly engaging in ‘politicized hiring’ — and that everyone would see just how militantly partisan the Obama Civil Rights Division truly is,” wrote former Justice official and Pajamas Media investigator Hans von Spakovsky, explaining why the Department stonewalled FOIA requests for nearly a year.

When confronted with Pajamas Media’s findings, the Justice Department did not acknowledge the ideological discrepancy or the fact that the Pajamas Media had to sue in order to obtain the documents, but instead reiterated its commitment to transparency and that political ideology is not a factor in hiring.

“This administration’s Civil Rights Division has restored the career-driven, transparent hiring process that has resulted in hiring the most qualified attorneys for the job, including attorneys with civil rights experience,” Justice spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa told The Daily Caller. “Actual or perceived political affiliation is not a factor in the Division’s career hiring process.”

“The quality of our new hires, coupled with the our longstanding and dedicated career staff, is reflected in the Division’s robust record of accomplishment,” Hinojosa added. “For example, in Fiscal Year 2010, the Division prosecuted a record number of criminal cases (125), topping the previous record set in Fiscal Year 2009; in addition, the Division has reached the largest monetary settlements ever secured by the Department in both a fair lending case and in a case under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

Former Justice Department official and study co-author J. Christian Adams took issue with the Department’s response.

“It is dishonest to say they hired people with civil rights experience. First, the experience often had nothing to do with the topics they handle at DOJ,” Adams told TheDC. “Most never saw the inside of a courtroom at these internships or time with these left wing groups. Second, work with these left wing groups served as an ideological admission ticket based on what I know [Civil Rights Division chief] Loretta King did in hiring committee meetings. Non-leftists need not apply.”

“Hopefully the DOJ inspector General will be as unkind to her as they were to Bush DOJ officials,” he added, referring to a Bush-era scandal in which the Justice Department came under fire for turning away applicants with far-left résumés.

Spakovsky told TheDC that the reason DOJ representatives’ responses were so vague is because they cannot answer the question.

“They completely avoid answering any of the issues we raised and I think that shows they are unable to do so. The résumés speak for themselves and they show the hiring bias that has been implemented in the division in the last three years,” Spakovsky said.

He added that it will be up to Congress, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to get to the bottom of the matter.

“[They] need to do the same identical type of investigation they did of the Bush Administration,” he said. “If they don’t do that, it will be evidence of the partisan bias in OPR and OIG, because how can they justify doing an investigation when these issues were raised during the Bush administration, and not conduct the same type of investigation now when the resumes speak for themselves?”

During the Bush administration’s run-in with similar charges, a great deal of media attention was devoted to the charge of political hiring. Little ink, however, has been devoted to Pajamas Media’ findings. Former Bush Justice Department official Robert Driscoll explained to TheDC that the discrepancy is likely due to a larger failure of understanding about the purpose of the Civil Rights Division.

“It’s depressing, but the story gets no traction because everyone who doesn’t follow the issue closely presumes that, of course its [okay] to hire agenda driven civil rights lawyers because that is what civil rights is about,” Driscoll wrote in an email. “There is no understanding (by most) that you would want non-activists in those jobs. It’s ridiculous, that no one cares, but there you have it.”

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