Executive Branch

New Theory Why US Attorneys Were Axed: Perceived Sexual Orientation?

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It wasn’t just political affiliation that some top officials at the Department of Justice may have considered when making decisions about hiring and firing.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a perceived same-sex relationship based on false rumors of a nonexistent affair between two female prosecutors may also have led to the firing of at least one U.S. attorney.

After hearing that a recent report by the inspector general of the Justice Department hinted at this possibility, “Margaret M. Chiara, the former U.S. attorney in Grand Rapids, Mich., said in an interview with The Times that she now believed she was fired because of the erroneous belief that she was having a relationship with career prosecutor Leslie Hagen,” the newspaper writes.

In fact, according to the women, they were not involved with each other. However, after false rumors of their relationship reached Monica Goodling, who was at the time a top aide to then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, DOJ investigators found, Hagen lost a much-desired Washington assignment, the Times reports.

After releasing a report Monday that harshly criticized the Justice Department’s hiring practices under Goodling’s regime, the inspector general’s office is now working on a separate report about the DOJ’s firing of at least nine U.S. attorneys allegedly over political considerations.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Report Finds Politics Influenced Hiring of DOJ Officials, Immigration Judges”

ABAJournal.com: “False Claim of an Affair With US Atty. Forced 250 Prosecutors Off Case”

ABAJournal.com: “Probe of US Prosecutor Firings Heats Up”

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