An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General

Special Report
July 2008
Office of the Inspector General

Chapter One
  1. Scope of the Investigation

  2. In March 2007, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) began a joint investigation of allegations that in 2006 several United States Attorneys (U.S. Attorneys) were forced to resign for improper reasons, including improper political purposes. We also received an allegation that Monica Goodling, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ or Department) White House Liaison and Senior Counsel to the Attorney General, had discriminated on the basis of political affiliation against a candidate for a career position as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA). We therefore expanded our investigation to include the allegation that Goodling inappropriately used political or ideological affiliations in the hiring process for career Department employees.

    On May 23, 2007, Goodling testified before the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary pursuant to a grant of immunity issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In both her written statement and verbal testimony, Goodling acknowledged that she took political considerations into account in assessing candidates for career positions in the Department. Goodling described three categories of such positions.

    First, Goodling stated that “[i]n a very small number of cases [regarding AUSAs], I believe that my decisions may have been influenced in part based on political considerations.”1

    Second, Goodling stated that “[i]n some cases, I learned and considered political information” when assessing career attorneys who applied for temporary detail positions in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Office of Legal Policy, the Office of the Associate Attorney General, the National Security Division, and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys.

    Third, Goodling stated that “[i]n reviewing resumes and soliciting applications [for immigration judges and Board of Immigration Appeals members]... I sometimes took political considerations into account.” Goodling added that Office of the Attorney General (OAG) Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson had told her that the Office of Legal Counsel had “provided guidance... indicating that Immigration Judge appointments were not subject to the civil service rules applicable to other career positions.” Goodling testified that she “assumed” that Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) member appointments were also not subject to civil service laws.

    As a result of Goodling’s testimony and other information developed during the course of this investigation, we included in the scope of our investigation Goodling’s role in the selection and hiring of candidates for AUSA and other career attorney positions, career attorney details to Department offices, and immigration judge (IJ) and BIA positions. We also examined whether Goodling’s predecessors as the Department’s White House Liaison, Susan Richmond and Jan Williams, and Goodling’s immediate supervisor, OAG Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson, considered political or ideological affiliations when assessing candidates for career positions within the Department.2

    In addition, during our investigation we learned of allegations that Goodling had discriminated on the basis of rumored sexual orientation against a career Department attorney who had applied for several temporary details. We investigated those allegations as well.

    Finally, we investigated whether several witnesses to or subjects of our investigation provided inaccurate or misleading information to us during our investigation or to other Department officials related to the issues in this investigation.

  3. Methodology of the Investigation

  4. During the course of our investigation, we interviewed more than 85 individuals, some more than once. Some of these people were also interviewed in connection with the other joint investigations by our offices. We also interviewed former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, and numerous current and former employees of the OAG, the Office of the Deputy Attorney (ODAG), the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA), and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). We also interviewed many individuals who were alleged victims or beneficiaries of political discrimination in Department hiring decisions.

    Monica Goodling declined our request to be interviewed. Because she is not currently employed by the Department, we could not compel her to cooperate.

    In addition to our interviews, we reviewed thousands of documents, including documents from the OAG, ODAG, EOUSA, EOIR, and numerous U.S. Attorneys’ Offices (USAO). We also reviewed relevant e-mails of numerous current and former Department employees. We searched the computer hard drives of several former OAG employees, including Sampson and Goodling, for documents relevant to this investigation. We also reviewed the hard-copy documents in Goodling’s and Sampson’s offices after they resigned from the Department.

    We sent a written survey to every person we could identify who was interviewed by Goodling or others in the OAG for any position from January 1, 2004, to April 2007, seeking information about their interviews. The survey asked for information about the positions for which the candidates applied, who interviewed them, and the kinds of questions the candidates were asked during the interviews. Of the 484 people to whom we sent the questionnaire, approximately 300 responded.

  5. Organization of this Report

  6. This report is divided into eight chapters. In Chapter Two, we provide a factual overview of Goodling’s and Sampson’s duties and responsibilities while they worked in the Department. We also discuss the duties and responsibilities of Goodling’s two predecessors as the Department’s White House Liaison, Susan Richmond and Jan Williams. We briefly describe the Department components that are discussed in this report, and we identify the leaders of those components during the relevant time periods. We then describe applicable legal standards and policies governing the hiring of career employees by the Department.

    In Chapter Three, we describe Goodling’s role in hiring Department attorneys and the methods she used to evaluate candidates. In Chapters Four, Five, and Six, we describe our findings and analysis as to whether Goodling inappropriately considered political or ideological affiliations when assessing AUSA or other career attorney candidates; whether Goodling, Richmond, or Williams considered political or ideological affiliations to assess candidates for DOJ details; and whether Sampson, Williams, or Goodling considered political or ideological affiliations to assess candidates for IJ and BIA positions. In Chapter Six, we also discuss whether Jan Williams provided inaccurate information to our investigators and whether Goodling provided inaccurate information to Civil Division attorneys defending a lawsuit involving the selection of IJs.

    In Chapter Seven, we discuss several issues that arose during our investigation, including whether EOUSA Deputy Director John Nowacki provided senior Department officials with inaccurate information about whether Goodling had used political or ideological affiliations to evaluate candidates for EOUSA detail positions, and whether Goodling discriminated against a detailee candidate on the basis of her alleged sexual orientation.

    In Chapter Eight, we provide our conclusions and recommendations.

  1. Prepared Statement of Monica Goodling, submitted in connection with her May 23, 2007, congressional testimony before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States House of Representatives.

  2. In addition to this investigation and the investigation of the removal of several U.S. Attorneys mentioned previously, we jointly investigated allegations that officials overseeing the Department’s Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program used political or ideological affiliations in assessing candidates for those programs. We also jointly investigated allegations that former Civil Rights Division Acting Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Bradley Schlozman and others used political or ideological affiliations in hiring and personnel decisions in the Civil Rights Division. On June 24, 2008, we issued a separate report describing our findings regarding allegations of politicized hiring in the Honors Program and the Summer Law Intern Program. We will issue separate reports describing our findings regarding the removal of several U.S. Attorneys and the Civil Rights Division when those investigations are completed.

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