More reports are emerging of partisan politics at the Justice Department under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Time magazine says it appears that Gonzales’ aides were taking political affiliation into account even when considering applicants for entry-level career positions that are supposed to be filled strictly on merit. Jeffrey Taylor, U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia, wanted to know why it was taking so long to hire a lawyer he had recruited. The answer he got from a Gonzales aide was that the candidate had been deemed unacceptable because the applicant appeared to be a Democrat.
Joseph Rich, a former chief of the civil rights division’s voting section and a 35-year Justice employee, said that, “Outright hostility to career employees who disagreed with the political appointees was evident early on. Seven career managers were removed in the civil rights division. I personally was ordered to change performance evaluations of several attorneys under my supervision. I was told to include critical comments about those whose recommendations ran counter to the political will of the Administration.”