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Testimony sought in Justice inquiry

Congress requests cooperation over a voter fraud lawsuit.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published May 8, 2007


WASHINGTON - Congress sought cooperation from one Justice Department official and prepared to put the agency's former White House liaison under oath in a widening investigation into the politics of Justice Department decision-making.

The Senate Judiciary Committee asked Bradley Schlozman, a former senior civil rights attorney and U.S. attorney, to speak with investigators.

The Justice Department, meanwhile, said it wouldn't try to prevent Congress from granting immunity to White House liaison Monica Goodling if she testifies before a committee.

Lawmakers want to talk to Schlozman and Goodling as part of an inquiry into whether the department played politics with the hiring and firing of department officials. The inquiry began as a question about whether U.S. attorneys - presidential appointees who serve as the top federal law enforcement officials in their state districts - were fired for political reasons.

It has grown, however, into an investigation of whether the agency let politics affect criminal investigations and whether officials made employment decisions for political reasons.

Lawmakers want to question Schlozman, who now works for the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, about a voter fraud lawsuit he filed against Missouri in November 2005.

Committee members said they wanted to know whether U.S. Attorney Todd Graves of Kansas City, Mo., was forced out for not endorsing that lawsuit, which was ultimately dismissed. Graves resigned from his post in March 2006 and Schlozman replaced him as interim U.S. attorney.

The Justice Department is conducting an internal review of the firings of U.S. attorneys and other decisions. As part of that investigation, the agency is reviewing whether Goodling sought to place Republicans as front-line prosecutors in state U.S. attorney districts.

Goodling resigned last month as senior counselor to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.