How a U.S. Attorney Went After 'Crazy Libs'
"Washington Watchdogs," a periodic feature of the Post's Investigations blog, looks at the findings of the federal government's official investigators.
In Justice Department attorney Bradley Schlozman's world, "real Americans" were "right-thinking" conservatives and he sought to "gerrymander all of those crazy libs" out of the department's civil-rights division he headed, according to an exhaustive report released today by the department's inspector general into alleged politicization in hiring processes.
Investigators found that Schlozman, 37, who later went on to serve as the interim U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, routinely hired conservative attorneys over qualified lawyers perceived as "libs and commies."
As a result, many of the new hires Schlozman approved had little background in civil-rights law and had very little or no federal criminal experience. Instead, Schlozman largely pulled applicants from the Federalist Society and the Republican National Lawyers Association, colleagues said (supporters argued that Schlozman simply broadened the applicant pool to include lawyers from second- and third-tier law schools and that more conservative-leaning attorneys had applied after Bush was elected).
But a deputy attorney under Schlozman, Wan Kim, described his former boss as "ridiculously brash" and a man who made bold and sometimes reckless statements to impress others.
And several "unqualified applicants" hired by Schlozman included the niece of an "agency head in the Bush administration," a personal friend to former Virginia U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty and the girlfriend of a fellow attorney who had allegedly lied on her resume, investigators found.
Some of the most damaging parts of the Justice Department's 70-page report are the e-mails from Schlozman in which he bashes other attorneys and left-leaning colleagues.
In one e-mail, dated June 15, 2006, while he was the interim U.S. Attorney in Missouri, Schlozman wrote:
It has been months since I felt the need to scream with a blood-curdling cry at some commie, partisan subordinate (i.e., most of the [Voting] section staff until recently). And I feel like the people I now work with are all complete professionals. What a weird change. Granted, these changes are nice in many respects, but bitchslapping a bunch of [Division] attorneys really did get the blood pumping and was even enjoyable once in a while. I think now it's all Good Cop for folks there. I much preferred the role of Bad Cop. . . . But perhaps the Division will name an award for me or something. How about the Brad Schlozman Award for Most Effectively Breaking the Will of Liberal Partisan Bureaucrats. I would be happy to come back for the awards ceremony.
In August 2004, the Justice Department's voting section chief, John Tanner, sent an e-mail to Schlozman, asking him to bring coffee for a meeting that both were scheduled to attend. Schlozman asked how Tanner liked his coffee. Tanner responded that he liked his coffee, "Mary Frances Berry style -- black and bitter." (Berry was the chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1993 to 2004.)
Schlozman then forwarded the e-mail to several department officials with the comment, "Y'all will appreciate Tanner's response." (Schlozman was later required to write a written apology for the incident.)
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