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In Search of "Good Americans" in the Justice Department

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"What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?"

"Why are you a Republican?"

"Aside from the President, give us an example of someone currently or recently in public service who you admire."

These are some of the questions Monica Goodling, a key appointee in the Bush administration, asked "all the time" to potential federal prosecutors from 2005 until 2007. According to a 140-page inspector general's report released Monday, Goodling, who graduated from Messiah College in 1995 and Regent University Law School (founded by Christian evangelist Pat Robertson) in 1999, was in search of "good Americans" to fill key jobs in the U.S. Justice Department. She also asked 34 job candidates their views on abortion and 21 candidates for their views on gays.

The report says Goodling and associate D. Kyle Sampson routinely broke the law by applying political tests to candidates for non-political jobs. The report said they damaged the credibility of the Justice Department.

Goodling was the liaison between the Justice Department under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the White House. She resigned in 2007 amid charges of politicizing justice which were borne out by Monday's report. It says investigators interviewed 85 people and received information from 300 other people who applied for jobs with the Justice Department.

Former United States attorney for West Tennessee David Kustoff, who served from March 2006 until May of 2008, told the Flyer Monday he was not interviewed by Goodling before he was appointed in February, 2006. Kustoff, now in private law practice, said Goodling "escorted me through the office" in Washington, but he was interviewed by someone else whose name he did not recall.

In any case, Kustoff's Republican credentials were well known as a former Shelby County Republican Party chairman and director of Bush's campaign in Tennessee in 2000 and 2004. The Tennessee Waltz investigation had already led to indictments by the time Kustoff took over from former U.S. Attorney Terry Harris.

The report focuses on the vetting of career prosecutors and immigration judges, not the United States attorneys who are political appointees.

Goodling testified before Congress in May, 2007, under a grant of immunity about political involvement in the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, including Bud Cummins of Arkansas.

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