Patterico's Pontifications

4/16/2007

Who is Rachel Paulose — Revisited

Filed under: General — WLS @ 4:36 pm



[Posted by WLS]

I posted a comment last week defending the appoinment of Rachel Paulose notwithstanding the fact that she was “underqualified” and light on experience, but certainly not “unqualified” as was being suggested. I noted her “gold plated resume” and her prior experience both in the Minnesota US Attorney’s Office and as an associate at the very powerful and politically connected Williams & Connelly firm in D.C.

Part of my comment was picked up and linked by Powerline’s Scott Johnson.

Powerline put up another comment on Paulose defending her appointment from attacks on the left and right — Paul Krugman and David Frum.

But, from my perspective, the links in Johnson’s newest post to articles in the Minn. Star-Trib. raise more questions about Paulose’s appointment than answers, and I’m troubled by the unresolved questions and my gut feeling about the answers.

In my earlier post I reversed the dates during which Ms. Paulose was employed as an associate by Williams & Connelly in D.C., and by Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis. I assumed she had gone to Williams & Connolly for one year prior to her joining DOJ in early 2006, and her time/connections at Williams & Connolly were instrumental in getting her the nod for the US Attorney’s position in Minneapolis. From the Star-Trib. story of 4/14, it appears that her time at Williams & Connolly came first, and after one year she returned to Minneapolis to join Dorsey & Whitney, where she remained until Jan. 2006 when she applied for a job as Counsel to the Dep.AG.

My problem with the new chronology is that completely lacking from the story on Paulose is any information about who her political patron was that shepherded her to the US Attorney’s post. Its clear from the reporting that it was not Minnesota Senators Coleman or Dayton — both had to be introduced to her.

The prior US Attorney, Tom Heffelfinger, announced his resignation on Feb. 14, 2006, effective Feb. 28, 2006. Heffelfinger was actually in his second stint as US Attorney, having first served in that capacity during the Bush 41 Administration.

Paulose was named to be the interim US Attorney on Feb. 17, 2006, effective on the date of Heffelfinger’s departure. Link

Paulose was identified as being “Senior Counsel” to Acting Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, and she was also described as the “Department’s Special Counsel for Health Care Fraud …. Paulose handles a broad array of matters, including the Department’s criminal litigation, corporate fraud enforcement, and policy matters.”

Now, this description strikes me as too cute by half, given that she had been working for McNulty for at most 6 weeks when this press release was written. I suspect a lot of people didn’t even know her name in mid-Feb, much less what she was supposedly “handled” for the Department.

The article says she was “recruited” for the job as Senior Counsel, but it doesn’t say by whom, and Paulose says she had never met Dep. AG McNulty before starting work on his staff.

Paulose also says that while she has met Monica Goodling, and considers her a friend, they didn’t meet until Jan 2006 when Paulose joined the Dep.AG Staff.

All this leaves me with this question — who recruited Paulose to be a Senior Counsel to the Dep. AG, and who advocated for Paulos to be named Interim US Attorney only 3 days after Heffelfinger announced his resignation? That person(s) has yet to be identified.

You don’t get a job like US Attorney without someone advocating for you, and the Star-Trib article says that Sen. Coleman’s office submitted two other names for the job (for the permanent job, not the interim job), but it still went to Paulose eventually. To turn down the home state Senator in favor of someone of the limited experience of Paulose is quite curious to me.

What I suspect is that the resignation of Heffelfinger was serendipitous. When if happened, Paulose’s patron put forward her name to be the Interim before any support could coalesce around another possible interim. But this would have had to happen with lightning speed, because the default choice is usually going to be a senior member of the office — someone like the First Assistant, Executive Assistant, or Criminal Chief.

The process of picking an interim would, in my experience, begin in the Executive Office of US Attorneys (EOUSA) — they would have the best first-hand knowledge of the office personnel, and who might be a suitable choice for Interim US Attorney.

After leaving the DOJ Press Office in mid-2004, Goodling did 6 months in the EDVA US Attorney’s Office, prosecuting low-level federal cases. When she finished that, she returned to DOJ by going to work at EOUSA, where she stayed from early 2005 to sometime in the fall of 2005, at which time she moved to the AG’s Office as White House Liason. One of her responsibilities was to sit in on interviews with potential candidates for vacant US Attorney positions around the country. The people who participated in those interviews were David Margolis (a 40 year DOJ veteran, the poster child for “DOJ career professional”); a member of the WH Counsel’s Office; the Director of EOUSA; and Goodling on behalf of the AG’s Office.

Given her experience and background, Goodling strikes me as being out of place in this group.

But her presence there, as well as being on the AG’s staff, would give her a prime spot from which to weigh in on the naming of an interim US Attorney when a vacancy came open — such as happened in mid-Feb. 2006 when Heffelfinger resigned.

It would have also put her in position to clear the path to being named as permanent US Attorney since she was influential in the interview process for such appointments.

If you look at the press release announcing Paulose as the Interim dated February 17, it has an extremely unusual paragraph at the end announcing that DOJ was “selecting” James Lackner to be her First Assistant. Lackner was the Criminal Chief at that time.

So, what happened to the First Assitant under Heffelfinger? Did that person tell EOUSA that they would not serve as First Assistant under Paulose if she was named Interim? That’s what I’m guessing.

I’m surmising there were objections to Paulose from within the US Attorney’s Office when her name surfaced immediately following Heffelfinger’s announcement of his intention to resign. But those objections were simply steamrolled by DOJ.

Without someone to steamroll the Dist. of Minn. and EOUSA in the hours immediately after Heffelfinger’s annoucement, its likely that a more suitable short-term replacement for Heffelfinger would have been picked, and then the selection process for the permanent replacement would have proceeded more orderly. I can’t think of any reason why DOJ would need to name an interim within 72 hours of Heffelfinger’s announcement, when Heffelfinger’s resignation wasn’t effective for another 2 weeks.

But, Goodling was in a position to advocate for her new friend Paulose to be Interim, and Sampson — her boss — seems to have never had much desire to rein Goodling in.

I think its evident by the fact that she seems to be the most logical candidate for paving the way for Paulose to be the US Attorney in Minnesota.

Is there anything venal or nefarious in this? No.

But, what it does suggest is a lack of “adult supervision” of the inexperienced “kids” at play at the top of DOJ. Goodling shouldn’t have had the job she was in — she was fundamentally out of her depth with only 6 months prosecutorial experience, and with her primary employment history having been in the press office.

Paulose may very well have been the best candidate for the US Attorney’s job, but there is a process that is designed to find out if that’s the case. If I’m correct, Goodling short-circuited that process on behalf of someone she barely knew. To me, that reflects a lack of judgment and seasoning.

I’m not a Goodling hater — frankly, the person most to blame for her conduct is whoever gave her the job. I suspect that person is Sampson, and it reflects poorly on his judgment (again) that he would entrust her with such a significant position as WH Liason.

7 Responses to “Who is Rachel Paulose — Revisited”

  1. To me, that reflects a lack of judgment and seasoning.

    Ok, and….???
    Maybe we should go over the US Attorney appointments for the past 20 years to see if this actually means anything, in context. Is she the first or only USA that seemed light in resume at the time of her appointment?
    I’m of the opinion that one can turn anything into a scandal. I wonder what those that have turned this into a scandal are hoping to gain (or divert attention from).

    MayBee (eb1824)

  2. This whole thing is redolent of Abu Gharib, wherein,
    when blame is assigned, it is to the lower echelon.

    Will the ball of contention roll only to Sampson’s? Will the firing of Iglesias be lain at the feet of the hapless Domenici, or Heather Wilson?

    That seems to be the end game here. It is clear Domenici had designs on removal. He got it.
    Quid Pro Quo? Curiouser and curiouser.

    semanticleo (2f60f4)

  3. You’ve made a good case that Monica Goodling was Paulose’s champion. I think, however, that it’s unlikely that Sampson was responsible for placing Goodling in her position. I suspect he was told to take her. I would look instead to the senior members of the Bush Administration from Regent University as Goodling’s champions. Goodling also had credit with Darth Rove, having worked in oppo research earlier.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (a3ce5e)

  4. This is, unfortunately, an example of the spoils system in its Republican form. Face it. The Republicans have constituencies which want to see young men and women of the “proper” ideological credentials and other characteristics get to the top, just like the Democrats do. This has happened during previous administrations of both parties. And with US Attorneys too.

    I wonder when both parties will honestly admit that they indulge in affirmative action at all levels of appointive positions — even at the cabinet level.

    vnjagvet (d3d48a)

  5. I should have added that I, like Captain Reynault, am “shocked, shocked” by this development.

    vnjagvet (d3d48a)

  6. But, what it does suggest is a lack of “adult supervision” of the inexperienced “kids” at play at the top of DOJ.

    You are going to find a lot of things like this in D.C. Government work for most politicals is a cash-in opportunity. You have very young Hill staffers doing committee work, based on their in-depth experience of frat service day, and a year or two on the Hill. You have 25 year-old lawyers who land a good federal clerkship, roll into an honors program for a year or two, work at a top tier firm for a year, then bounce into an assistance secretary position, then roll out of government just as fast to cash in. It is a cult of youth. Couple that with the Texas inner circle at the top – which has some first raters but an awful lot of second or third tier minds – and you have a recipe for a loss of control, major confusion and a lack of accountability. I’ve also heard a lot about the WH staff having had little turnover for 6+ years, and just being ‘tired.’ Apparently so, and in the case of DOJ I suspect that they are reluctant to trifle with the Bestest Lawyer in the Country.

    And just to throw a few more logs on the bonfire, this isn’t the last time you are going to see this. Many of the Dem Hill staffers likely to come in with President Hillary will have been seasoned for a year or two in the Dem congress, at best, and will bring their considerable wisdom and experience to bear in the same manner.

    Al Maviva (89d0b6)

  7. “You don’t get a job like US Attorney without someone advocating for you, and the Star-Trib article says that Sen. Coleman’s office submitted two other names for the job (for the permanent job, not the interim job), but it still went to Paulose eventually. To turn down the home state Senator in favor of someone of the limited experience of Paulose is quite curious to me.”

    Star Tribune
    Last update: April 18, 2007

    Coleman spokesman Luke Friedrich said that he erred when he told the Star Tribune on April 10 that Paulose was not one of the two candidates Coleman recommended last year to replace Heffelfinger.

    Paulose was one of those he nominated for the job, Friedrich said on Tuesday. The other person was Clayton Robinson Jr., a longtime friend of Coleman’s who works as an assistant director in the Ramsey County attorney’s office.

    “Sen. Coleman is concerned about any efforts to politicize the U.S. attorney’s office, including by the House Judiciary Committee,” said spokesman LeRoy Coleman. He noted that she had gotten bipartisan support from the Minnesota legal community and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in December”
    So, stop raising our BP by putting out inaccurate information.

    Thomas (fa0c2e)


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