Executive Branch

Ex-Prosecutor: DOJ Destroyed My Career

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Ryan Rainey admittedly broke a rule when he was a star federal prosecutor, and paid a high price for doing so.

In 2005, he resigned, later pleading guilty to criminal charges. They related to failing to inform his bosses at the Department of Justice about applying for work as a special master with the state of California, a move that posed a potential conflict of interest with his work as a child abuse and civil rights prosecutor, reports the Daily Journal (sub. req.).

The criminal prosecution for a matter that could have been handled administratively was highly unusual, lawyers who have represented Rainey say.

But, even worse, from Rainey’s standpoint, is what he believes is the Justice Department’s unjustified interference since then with his efforts to work as a private consultant helping states assess the condition of their juvenile detention facilities.

After calls from DOJ officials questioning why they had retained Rainey, he has lost consulting work with a number of states, according to court documents in a California State Bar disciplinary case against Rainey that was triggered by the criminal case. “Thereafter officials from the State of Georgia apologetically advised respondent that they could not continue working with him. Respondent lost the consulting work,” one such document states. “Similar comments were made to state officials in California, Ohio, and Massachusetts.”

Rainey is not the only one who attributes the DOJ’s harsh punishment of his job application and apparent subsequent efforts to eliminate his consulting work to his out-of-sync personal politics. Even though the Justice Department isn’t supposed to take employees’ political views into account, the DOJ has been accused of repeatedly doing so in various contexts in recent years and Rainey believes he is among those who have suffered as a result. (As discussed in another ABAJournal.com post today, an inspector general report has found that the DOJ impermissibly took applicants’ political views into account in an honors hiring program for prosecutors.)

“I think what happened was they went after Ryan because Ryan didn’t back down, he didn’t toe the line like they wanted attorneys to do,” an unnamed attorney tells the Daily Journal.

State bar and DOJ officials, however, point out that Ryan never lost his law license, and had in fact violated the Justice Department’s hiring rules.

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