Find Post Investigations On:
Facebook Scribd Twitter
Friendfeed RSS Google Reader
» About This Blog | Meet the Investigative Team | Subscribe
Ongoing Investigation

Top Secret America

The Post explores the top secret world the government created in response to the attacks of Sept. 11.

Ongoing Investigation

The Hidden Life of Guns

How guns move through American society, from store counter to crime scene.

Have a Tip?

Talk to Us

If you have solid tips, news or documents on potential ethical violations or abuses of power, we want to know. Send us your suggestions.
• E-mail Us

Categories

Post Investigations
In-depth investigative news
and multimedia from The Washington Post.
• Special Reports
• The Blog

Reporters' Notebook
An insider's guide to investigative news: reporters offer insights on their stories.

The Daily Read
A daily look at investigative news of note across the Web.

Top Picks
A weekly review of the best
in-depth and investigative reports from across the nation.

Hot Documents
Court filings, letters, audits and other documents of interest.

D.C. Region
Post coverage of investigative news in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

Washington Watchdogs
A periodic look into official government investigations.

Help! What Is RSS?
Find out how to follow Post Investigations in your favorite RSS reader.

Hot Comments

Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
— Posted by denamom, Obama's Quandary...

Recent Posts
Bob Woodward

The Washington Post's permanent investigative unit was set up in 1982 under Bob Woodward.


Archives
See what you missed, find what you're looking for.
Blog Archive »
Investigations Archive »

Have a Tip?
Send us information on ethics violations or abuses of power.
E-Mail Us »

Other
Investigations
Notable investigative projects from other news outlets.
On the Web »
Top Picks »

How a U.S. Attorney Went After 'Crazy Libs'

POSTED: 04:14 PM ET, 01/13/2009 by Derek Kravitz


"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.)

By Derek Kravitz |  January 13, 2009; 4:14 PM ET Washington Watchdogs
Previous: Trying to Blow The Whistle on Madoff | Next: Bush's Legacy in Iraq

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Well thank goodness we have all that political influence in the hiring and firing of US Attorneys behind us. I know we can expect just natural attrition as the present office holders find other positions one by one.

I am equally certain that those who have been confessing past sins, and watching every Justice Department job change will alert us when President Obama keeps all the present staff.

And there will be no eight point headline on the last page that says "All 93 Attorneys hit the bricks". As there was when the last Democratic Administration took over from a Bush.

Posted by: tommariner | January 13, 2009 8:44 PM

@tommariner:

U.S. Attorneys are political appointees, serving at the pleasure of the President.

The people against whom Schlozman discriminated were and are members of the civil service. There are laws which, if enforced, prevent career/non-appointee civil servants from feeling pressured to do or fail to do their job, by an elected Administration and its appointees.

If you're wondering why there was no headline when Clinton did it, it's because asking for the resignation of political appointees is both legal and customary. Personnel decisions among career civil service employees, based on partisan considerations, is neither legal nor customary.

Posted by: jthompsonxfaa | January 13, 2009 9:20 PM

I certainly have no use for crazy libs, but, judging from the unmitigated disaster that was the Bush administration, the term appears to have been some kind of code for "actually competent to do the job."

Posted by: cletus1 | January 13, 2009 9:26 PM

Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if the people being paid to represent us actually did without having to be classified as left, right, conservative or liberal. Those in the public sector should be chosen for competency, levelheadedness and an ability to see past their own agenda and do what’s best for those they serve instead of personal or partisan gain.

Posted by: Terralex | January 17, 2009 10:20 AM

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company