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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Final thoughts on the Goodling testimony

So, we find out yesterday during Monica Goodling's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee that somebody at the Department of Justice thought that former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger was spending too much time on Native American issues. Now I might be a bit old fashioned here, but isn't that maybe the kind of thing that maybe someone should discuss with him rather than just adding his name onto a list for firing? I wonder if the folks down in D.C. were aware that the Red Lake school shootings were a pretty big deal here. ...

In any event, if I were Rachel Paulose I would be opening a bottle of champagne, ... errr ... lemonade. I don't think Goodling's testimony could have gone any better for her. Goodling and Paulose became friends after Paulose was hired as interim U.S. attorney. They did not know each other prior to the start of the hiring process.

So, despite being roasted over a spit by the media in connection with the firings controversy, it now appears Paulose's only "crime" on that score was being a smart young conservative with a Yale Law pedigree in the right place at the right time. Or maybe I should say the wrong place at the wrong time. How many of us would want to take the nonstop beating leveled at her by the media for the last two months -- even if it came with a business card saying that you were the U.S. attorney?

There are, of course, internal managerial issues at the local U.S. Attorney's Office still in the process of being addressed. Now that the eye of this national storm has passed, maybe the office can finish hammering those out and get back to doing more things like helping to bust up that "sex slavery" ring. Just a thought.

In any event, it is now up to Paulose to succeed or fail on her own merits, which is as it should be.


Anonymous said...

Yes! It was good to hear the truth at last. Goodling also stated that they have not talked to each other for couple of months.

I think the media owes Paulose an apology for their relentless efforts to defame her credibility and for repeatedly airing false information about her education (that she graduated from Regent and not Yale), qualifications and experience.

I found this excellent article in the Strib:
By Katherine Kersten, Star Tribune
Last update: May 23, 2007 – 9:53 PM

"Rachel is an unfair victim of [the Justice Department's] discharge of the eight U.S. attorneys," says John French, a retired Minnesota lawyer and longtime DFL activist who has worked with Paulose and spoke at her investiture in March. "She's been wired into it [the Washington controversy] by innuendo."
The first thing to get clear is that Paulose is a legal superstar. She graduated from Yale Law School and has worked at two of the nation's most prestigious law firms, as well as the U.S. Justice Department. The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed her to her current position.
Paulose also had experience as a federal prosecutor before she became U.S. attorney here. From 1999 to 2002, she worked as an assistant U.S. attorney for Minnesota in both the civil and criminal divisions.
In contrast, recent highly regarded U.S. attorneys such as David Lillehaug and James Rosenbaum (who was 36 when he was appointed) had no federal prosecutorial experience when they started the job. In fact, only two of the five U.S. attorneys who preceded Paulose had federal prosecutorial experience.
And Paulose's age? Fourteen individuals under 35 have been nominated to serve as U.S. attorneys during the Clinton and Bush administrations, according to the Office of Public Affairs of the U.S. Department of Justice. The youngest was 29. Robert Kennedy was 35 when he became attorney general of the United States.
If Paulose is a Republican hack out to pervert justice, why are many prominent Democrats among her most ardent supporters?
David Kendall -- Bill and Hillary Clinton's personal lawyer -- worked with Paulose for almost two years in Washington, and is full of praise for her as a lawyer and a person. He defended President Bill Clinton against impeachment charges, and is currently representing the Clintons in several civil matters.
"Rachel was terrific," says Kendall. Her intelligence was second to none, she was an extremely hard worker, and she had great people skills, he adds. "I was extremely happy with her work. I was very sorry when she made the decision to return to Minnesota."
A partisan hack? "I could never tell from Rachel's work that she was a conservative," says Kendall. "I don't believe she would make a partisan decision -- she would be guided by what her legal research told her. If someone asked her to do something for ideological reasons, there's no question in my mind that she would resist."
Here in Minnesota, French -- another Democratic loyalist -- echoes Kendall's praise. By his count, he has chaired 11 DFL conventions. He scoffs at the notion that Paulose is a partisan hack.
"Rachel is as close to non-political as a political appointee can be," French told me. "At her investiture, I said that the spirit of bipartisanship was alive and well in Minnesota. Who else but Rachel Paulose could bring people together on one stage -- representing the whole spectrum in Minnesota -- to speak in favor of one candidate? I bet Rachel and I would cancel out each other's votes every time we walk into a voting booth. But so what? She's terrific. Rachel has the capacity to create loyal friends and admirers no matter where they stand on the political spectrum."
Perhaps the most incredible charge from Paulose's critics is the notion that she was appointed as part of a Karl Rove plot, to suppress the minority vote in Minnesota in the 2008 election.
"Has anyone who says these things seen her face to face?" asks French incredulously. "She is a member of a minority herself. This is the silliest charge I've heard about her yet."
Those familiar with Paulose's record would concur. In Clinton's Justice Department, she worked in the voting rights section under Janet Reno to protect minorities' right to vote. At Yale, Burke Marshall -- an architect of the 1965 Voting Rights Act -- was one of her mentors, according to her résumé.
So why are the critics piling on Paulose today? Two reasons.
She's young, female, a "person of color" and an immigrant. (Her grandfather came here from India with $7 in his pocket in the 1960s, she has said, and the rest of the family followed.) If she were a political liberal -- as such people are expected to be -- she would be the toast of the town. But she's not. In some folks' view, such renegades must be run out of the public arena quickly before other minority folks get similar uppity, independent ideas.
Second, she's an evangelical Christian. "This image of her as a kind of Jesus freak is just bizarre," says Kendall. "I've read things [about this] I find hard to believe. The descriptions of her aggressive religiosity just couldn't be farther from the person I knew."
In the current political circus atmosphere, that's true of a lot of what we're hearing about Paulose.
Katherine Kersten • kkersten@startribune.com

Mark Cohen, editor said...

Yeah, I saw the Kersten piece. There are parts of this that I would agree with, and parts that I would not.

I think it is not fair to imply Paulose's critics are all motivated by racism, sexism, ageism, anti-immigrant or anti-religious bias. I always start with the notion that folks' motives are not poisonous unless there is evidence to the contrary.

The management issues that occurred in the local office were real, and hopefully are being addressed. But a lot of time has apparently been fruitlessly expended trying to tie this in to the national firings controversy. I think its time to move on, let the issues be worked out and allow the office to get back to serving the people of Minnesota without distraction.

Anonymous said...

Good column, Mark. And good comment, anonymouse. Paulose is a smart, aggressive attorney who probably made the classic mistake conservatives make in attempting to reform government offices full of crotchety, sometimes slow-walking "lifers" who don't want a supervisor who actually holds them accountable. And undoubtedly, there are very senior people jealous of her quick success (whether or not they have bigoted motives is another question). But, the liberal press has been piling on in an attempt to take out a talented young conservative star, and every day that she stays (as she has promised to do) is a rebuke to their bullying. Press on, Miss Paulose!

Anonymous said...

Conspiracy Theory:

Feb 2005 - Hizzoner, St Paul Mayor Randy Kelly is
probed by 2 FBI investigations as he announces re-election.
The publicity is not good.

Mar 2005 - US Attorney Heff gets put on the US Attorney General death list.

Nov 2005 - Hisdishonor Randy Kelly is kicked
out of town with the largest loss by an incumbent mayor in the
history of St. Paul.

Jan 2006 Citizen Kelly goes to Washington
to beg for a job and get revenge, he is well connected with
the Bush people.

Feb 2006 - US Attorney Heff feels the pressure and "resigns".

Anonymous said...

More Consipracy Theory and a Prediction:

One or more judicial officials in Dakota County will be reprimanded for impropriety and unethical "business" relations with a special interest group within the next year.