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Monday, September 1, 2008

Gonzales aides politicized hirings, investigators find

Art_goodling_file_gi WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Aides to then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales improperly considered political affiliations and ideologies in hiring, but Gonzales was unaware of those actions, according to results of an investigation released Monday by the Justice Department internal watchdog.

The report provides no indication criminal laws were violated but cites illegal civil actions involving discrimination in hiring. Investigators, however, said no penalties are likely because the aides no longer work for the Justice Department.

Monica Goodling, the White House liaison for the attorney general, was the key operative behind many of the politicized decisions involving career prosecutors and immigration judges, the report says.

"The evidence demonstrated that Goodling violated department policy and federal law and committed misconduct by considering political or ideological affiliations" in Justice Department appointments, the report says.

Investigators found Gonzales was oblivious to what Goodling was doing.

"When we interviewed him, Gonzales stated that he was not aware at the time that Goodling used political factors in assessing candidates for career positions ... and was not even aware that Goodling's portfolio in the Office of Attorney General included the hiring of immigration judges," the report said.

Gonzales' attorney, George Terwilliger, issued a statement defending Gonzales' lack of knowledge about the actions of his top aides. [Mark Godsey]

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