Robin C. Ashton, the woman Attorney General Eric Holder just named to head of the Justice Department’s internal ethics office, was reportedly herself a victim of improper politicization during the Bush administration at the hands of Regent University graduate Monica Goodling.
“As a veteran career prosecutor, Robin is uniquely qualified to serve as Counsel for Professional Responsibility, and I am confident she will lead the office with the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and dedication,” Holder said in a statement.
Ashton, as the Washington Post reported, was denied a promotion at the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, where she worked from 2001 to 2005. Sources said she was told that she lost the promotion because of Goodling, who was eventually found to have improperly politicized hiring and promotion decisions.
“You have a Monica problem,” Ashton was told, several DOJ officials told the New York Times back in 2007. “She believes you’re a Democrat and doesn’t feel you can be trusted.” Goodling didn’t directly address whether Ashton was denied a promotion during her congressional testimony in 2007 but said there was tension between the two.
Goodling, you may recall, arrived at DOJ at the start of the Bush administration after working as an opposition researcher for the Republican National Committee. She graduated from Regent University School of Law, the school founded by Pat Robertson, and believed that part of her job was to bring people with conservative and Christian values to the Justice Department, former colleagues said. She admitted to “crossing the line” and running afoul of civil service rules governing hiring decisions.
Last year, Obama promoted to U.S. Attorney a federal prosecutor whose had been discriminated against by Goodling because of his wife’s Democratic ties and rehired Leslie Hagan, who had been dismissed by Goodling because she was rumored to be gay.
Ashton is taking over an office that has come under fire because of what critics say is weak punishment of attorneys who are found to have committed prosecutorial misconduct. Holder has defended the office and resisted calls to give the more independent Inspector General’s office more power to investigate such allegations.