In a world where every story arises de novo and completely context-free, this might raise an eyebrow.
A federal investigation of Democratic Party leaders in Cuyahoga County could pose problems for Barack Obama’s campaign in Ohio, party insiders and political analysts say.
If the party’s local campaign operation suffers, some Democrats said, it could cost Mr. Obama votes in a Democratic area where he must win overwhelmingly to offset Republican strength elsewhere in the state.
“There’s no question that this is not helpful,” said Peter Lawson Jones, a Democrat who serves on the three-member Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners with Jimmy Dimora, the chairman of the county Democratic Party, who is at the center of a federal inquiry.
I don’t condone any lawbreaking that might have happened, obviously, but it’s also hard to ignore context. Between 2001 and 2006 federal investigations skewed 79%-18% against Democrats. The DoJ doesn’t seem to be getting its money’s worth – without even trying they bagged dozens of Abramoff conspirators, “Duke” Cunningham, Tom DeLay, Scooter Libby, Larry Craig* and Ted Stevens among others. On the other hand, with 79% of their effort the DoJ has some local pols, William Jefferson’s freezer and a comically partisan affair that will likely end in more jail time for the prosecutors and White House liaisons than for the former Democratic governor of Alabama.
You’ll be shocked, then, to find out that the DoJ has been run as a little patronage mill to keep bright-eyed partisans and former campaign operatives on the public dole.
Former Justice Department counselor Monica M. Goodling and former chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson routinely broke the law by conducting political litmus tests on candidates for jobs as immigration judges and line prosecutors, according to an inspector general’s report released today.
Goodling passed over hundreds of qualified applicants and squashed the promotions of others after deeming candidates insufficiently loyal to the Republican party, said investigators, who interviewed 85 people and received information from 300 other job seekers at Justice. Sampson developed a system to screen immigration judge candidates based on improper political considerations and routinely took recommendations from the White House Office of Political Affairs and Presidential Personnel, the report said.
Goodling regularly asked candidates for career jobs: “What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?” the report said. One former Justice Department official told investigators she had complained that Goodling was asking interviewees for their views on abortion, according to the report.
In that respect it’s just like Iraq! Monica Goodling, as you recall, famously told Congress that government hires swear an oath to the President.
Will these investigations make it a little awkward for Obama to win an important swing state? Of course they will. A kitten with its eyes shut is less naive than anyone who thinks that didn’t occur to anyone at DoJ.
(*) To be fair, credit for the great bathroom bust should go to Minneapolis airport police rather than the DoJ.
Oy. A commenter gently reminded me that it was Sara Taylor at the White House and not Monica Goodling at DoJ who swore an oath to the president. Given the now-famous details of Goodling’s hiring policies at DoJ I would call it a distinction without a difference.