According today’s report by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), former Justice Department lawyer, Monica Goodling conducted detailed “Internet research on candidates for Department positions…designed to obtain their political and ideological affiliations.”
Apparently drawing on her experience conducting opposition research for the RNC, Goodling used a complex LexisNexis search string to screen candidates for affiliations or statements related to conservative flash points. The search string included such affiliations as homosexuality, abortion, and the 2000 Florida recount. This is the search that Goodling entered into the LexisNexis database to research job candidates:
[First name of a candidate]! and pre/2 [last name of a candidate] w/7 bush or gore or republican! or democrat! or charg! or accus! or criticiz! or blam! or defend! or iran contra or clinton or spotted owl or florida recount or sex! or controvers! or racis! or fraud! or investigat! or bankrupt! or layoff! or downsiz! or PNTR or NAFTA or outsourc! or indict! or enron or kerry or iraq or wmd! or arrest! or intox! or fired or sex! or racis! or intox! or slur! or arrest! or fired or controvers! or abortion! or gay! or homosexual! or gun! or firearm!
The OPR found that Goodling obtained this search string from a colleague who used it to screen political appointees. Goodling, however, used it in violation of federal law to screen candidates for career department positions. In addition, Goodling “instructed” a temporary assistant to “use the search string for all candidates she was asked to screen.”
According to the report, Goodling also used “www.tray.com and other web sites to get information about political contributions made by candidates.” She explained in her testimony to Congress, “Normally, if I found something that was negative about someone, we didn’t hire them.”