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DOJ accused of impeding US Attorney firings probe: LA Times

[JURIST] US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) [official website] head Scott J. Bloch [official profile] has accused the Department of Justice (DOJ) of impeding an investigation into the "politicization" of the DOJ under former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile; JURIST news archive] during the 2006 US Attorney firings [JURIST news archive], the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday. The Office of Special Counsel is the independent federal agency in charge of enforcing the Hatch Act [OSC materials], which prohibits the use of government resources for political purposes. According to Tuesday's report, Bloch wrote a letter to Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey last week asserting his department's independent authority to investigate "political intrusion into personnel decision making" at the DOJ, and accusing the DOJ of denying his request for evidence and documents relating to the dismissal of nine US Attorneys in 2006. The DOJ has said that Bloch may conduct his own investigation after the DOJ has completed its own probe, which Bloch says could take many more months.

The Los Angeles Times reported [JURIST report] last May that the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility [official website] was expanding its internal investigation [JURIST report] into whether department aides illegally made hiring decisions based on consideration of applicants' political beliefs. In June, former DOJ aide Monica Goodling [JURIST news archive] testified [JURIST report] in front of the House Judiciary Committee, where she admitted making hiring decisions based on political party affiliation. The DOJ has also said that it found no evidence to support Goodling's claim that the practice was approved by officials in the department. The Los Angeles Times has more.

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