Former AG Gonzales "Disappointed" in Himself Regarding Politicization of DOJ Attorney and Law Student Hiring

And that is likely one of the few sentiments that the former AG shares in common with those who may have been snubbed as a result of improper political vetting for DOJ attorney and internships honors program positions.

A couple of days ago the Blog of the Legal Times reported on Mr. Gonzales’s remarks, which were made during a deposition stemming from the hiring irregularities.  From the BLT:

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said for the first time that “I am disappointed that I didn’t do things differently” to stop the politicization of the system of hiring career Justice Department attorneys through its honors program during his time in office.

“Obviously everyone is smarter in hindsight. In hindsight you wish you would do some things differently and … I feel disappointment in myself,” Gonzales said, according to filings this week in a pending suit filed on behalf of applicants who were rejected for the program for political or ideological reasons. “I, the attorney general, am ultimately responsible,” Gonzales also said.

Gonzales served as the nation’s top law enforcement official from 2005 to 2007. Internal investigations of the honors and summer intern programs that were made public in 2008 found that Department officials did Internet searches to investigate the applicants’ political and ideological affiliations, added that information to applicants’ files, and used it to “deselect” some of those who would otherwise have been interviewed and hired. One candidate was nixed because he had run for office as a Green Party candidate.

We thought this was newsworthy because we’re not aware that Mr. Gonzales has otherwise been called upon to account for these incidents, and whether or not he played any substantive role in them.  As for folks who were directly involved, news had recently surfaced that Monica Goodling, a former DOJ official who admitted in Congressional testimony that she considered job candidates’ political affiliations in making hiring decisions, has been reprimanded for this conduct by the Virginia State Bar.  (Here’s ABA Journal coverage.)

It goes without saying that presidential elections have consequences.  And whoever occupies Oval Office, regardless of party,  is going to be able to shape federal policies – and, through political appointments, the workforce –  in such a way as to reflect his or her political party’s ideologies.  But when it comes to civil-service and related positions in government, there should exist the brightest of bright lines forbidding political vetting.  DOJ, through Republican and Democratic administrations, has been a proud institution with a historically strong workforce.  So we’re glad that this episode is in the rearview mirror.

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  1. Former AG Gonzalez “Disappointed” in Himself Regarding … -Political Fund USA said,

    May 26, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    […] the original post here: Former AG Gonzalez “Disappointed” in Himself Regarding … Tags: feel-disappointment, filed-on-behalf, gonzales, pending-suit, week Leave a comment | […]

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