Be Careful When You Tell People to Read a Damning Report

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 12 2013 5:06 PM

Be Careful When You Tell People to Read a Damning Inspector General Report

(L-R) U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez and National Urban League CEO Marc Morial listen to the Star Spangled Banner during the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Program at the Department of Justice January 11, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Jennifer Rubin offers a reading assigment, one that will reveal the problems with likely Labor nominee Tom Perez.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

I won’t revisit all the behavior of the Obama Justice Department but a nearly-300 page report has been released by the administration’s own inspector general. The IG went out of the way to be even-handed, even when there was substantial evidence of politicization. However, his conclusion — that is of the Obama Justice Department’s own investigator — is damning for those, including Perez, who have run the DOJ since 2009.

From that report:

On May 28, 2009, Jennifer Rubin of PJM sent a letter to the Division’s FOIA Office that contained 21 separate requests for records of communications from or to certain managers, attorneys, and analysts in the Voting Section on numerous topics, such as hiring decisions, travel requests, investigations, outside publication of articles, and interaction with certain advocacy groups. Hermilla told the OIG that Rubin’s request was “clearly complex” based on the number of separate requests and the likely potential for a significant volume of records.
He said that Rubin’s request was “among a select . . . 5 percent” of requests that have involved over 20 separate requests for records in his 27 years in the FOIA Office. He also said that many of the requests targeted individual attorney communications, thus raising potential personal privacy issues and issues of Voting Section enforcement sensitivity. Therefore, a “lineby-line” review of responsive materials would be required.
On October 4, 2010, Hermilla sent a letter to Rubin asking if she would consider narrowing the scope of her request to fewer than 21 items to possibly receive a quicker response. Hermilla told us that Rubin never responded to this letter.
Donovan told the OIG that the review of the sensitive material responsive to this request has been “very time-consuming.” For example, she told us that one Voting Section attorney alone had 8,000 e-mails that had to be reviewed in processing Rubin’s request. Additionally, Donovan told us that she has devoted significant time to address this broad request, but must review and process responsive materials by herself because of the sensitive personal and managerial information targeted by the request.

So not everything is Tom Perez's fault!

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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