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Monica Marie Goodling (born August 6, 1973) is a former United States government lawyer and political appointee in the George W. Bush administration who became known in 2007 in the midst of a political controversy surrounding the firings of several United States attorneys. She was the principal deputy director of public affairs for the United States Department of Justicemarker, serving under Attorneys General John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales. She has no direct family relationship to the former United States representative William F. Goodling.


Goodling, a conservative Christian, is a 1991 graduate of Northeastern High School in Manchester, Pennsylvaniamarker, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1995 from Messiah Collegemarker. After completing her bachelor's degree, Goodling continued her education at American Universitymarker, but she then transferred to the Regent Universitymarker Law School, where she received her Juris Doctor degree in 1999.

Political and legal career

Goodling worked alongside Tim Griffin as an opposition researcher for the Republican National Committee during the 2000 presidential campaign. She joined the Department of Justice's press office after George W. Bush became president. She moved to the department's executive office, which is responsible for budgeting, management, personnel management and evaluation, later becoming deputy director of the executive office. Goodling was hired by U.S. attorney Mary Beth Buchanan to work in the executive office.

Less than a year later, Goodling moved again, to the attorney general’s office, working as the White House liaison.According to David Ayres, senior chief of staff to Attorney General John Ashcroft, "She was the embodiment of a hardworking young conservative who believed strongly in the president and his mission". According to Bud Cummins, one of the fired prosecutors and an Arkansasmarker Republican, “She was inexperienced, way too naïve and a little overzealous".

After moving to the attorney general's office, she retained some of her executive office authority over personnel matters. Goodling's authority over hiring expanded significantly in March 2006, when Gonzales signed an unpublished order delegating to Goodling and Kyle Sampson, his then chief of staff, the power to appoint or dismiss all department political appointees besides United States attorneys (who are appointed by the President). The delegation included authority over interim United States attorneys (who are appointed by the Attorney General) and heads of the divisions that handle civil rights, public corruption, environmental crimes and other matters. Internal Document Granting Personnel Hiring Authority to DoJ Aides (via Talking Points Memo, May 9, 2007.) Retrieved May 10, 2007.

Alberto Gonzales, Office of the Attorney General. Order 2808-2006. Delegation of certain personnel authorities to the Chief of Staff to the Attorney General and to the White House Liaison of the Department of Justice. March 1, 2006.

U.S. attorneys controversy

According to e-mails, Goodling was involved in planning controversial 2006 U.S. attorney dismissals and in later efforts to limit the negative public reaction. Goodling "warned of potential political problems with Timothy Griffin's interim appointment as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and underscored White Housemarker interest in getting it done." Reportedly, Goodling "took a leading role" in Bud Cummins's dismissal.


On March 23, 2007, she took an indefinite leave of absence. On March 26, 2007, Goodling cancelled her upcoming appearance at a Congressional hearing, citing her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. No Department of Justice employee has ever exercised his or her Fifth Amendment rights with respect to official conduct and remained an employee. On April 6, 2007, Goodling announced her resignation from the Department of Justice, writing to Gonzales, "May God bless you richly as you continue your service to America."

Limited immunity to testify

On April 25, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee voted 32-6 to grant Goodling immunity, meeting the required two thirds majority, and immediately authorized a subpoena. Her attorney, John M. Dowd, is a partner at Akin Gump who attended Emory Law Schoolmarker.

In early May 2007, the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility was reported to be investigating whether Goodling violated federal law in making "hiring decisions on assistant U.S. attorneys based on party affiliation."Initially, commentators speculated that Justice Department officials could try to bar Goodling's testimony to the House Committee, on the grounds that it might interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation. However, the Justice Department subsequently agreed not to contest the congressional grant of immunity.

On May 11, 2007, U.S. District Court chief judge Thomas Hogan signed an order granting Goodling immunity in exchange for her truthful testimony for the investigation of the firings, stating that "Goodling may not refuse to testify, and may not refuse to provide other information, when compelled to do so" before the Committee.

House Judiciary committee hearing

Goodling appeared before the House Judiciary Committee, on May 23, 2007, under a limited immunity agreement, and provided to the committee a written statement that she read at the start of her testimony.In response to questions during the hearing, Goodling stated that she "crossed the line" and broke civil service rules about hiring, and improperly weighed political factors in considering applicants for career positions at the Department of Justice. Link to Washington Post transcript of the hearing.

Investigation of Goodling's hiring practices

On May 3, 2007, the Washington Post reported that the United States Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General launched an internal probe into whether or not Goodling "illegally took party affiliation into account in hiring career federal prosecutors" in her work at the Department.

On May 12, the New York Times published an article about Goodling repeatedly engaging in “prohibited personnel practices” while at the Justice Department. “You have a Monica problem” several Justice Department officials told Robin C. Ashton, a criminal prosecutor at the Department of Justice. “She believes you’re a Democrat and doesn’t feel you can be trusted.”

One week after Goodling's testimony before the House, the Department's Office of the Inspector General and Counsel for the Office of Professional Responsibility confirmed in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, that they were expanding their investigation beyond "the removals of United States Attorneys" to also include "DOJ hiring and personnel decisions" by Goodling and other Justice Department employees.

On July 28, 2008, a Justice Department report concluded that Goodling had violated federal law and Justice Department policy by discriminating against job applicants who weren't Republican or conservative loyalists.Goodling improperly subjected candidates for certain career positions to the same politically based evaluation she used on candidates for political positions, the report concluded. In one instance, Justice investigators found, Goodling objected to hiring an assistant prosecutor in Washington because judging from his resume, he appeared to be a liberal Democrat. In another, she rejected an experienced terror prosecutor to work on counterterror issues at a Justice Department headquarters office "because of his wife's political affiliations,".In another case, colleagues said that Goodling blocked the appointment of a female prosecutor in Washington because she "believed the lawyer was involved in a lesbian relationship with her supervisor", according to the report.“There was no romantic relationship,” said Lisa Banks, the attorney for Leslie Hagan, “but the rumors were pernicious and grew legs, and it cost her the job.” Goodling may also face a criminal investigation into her conduct. Hagan has since been rehired to her old job.

Role in other DOJ controversies

On May 7, 2007, National Journal's "Inside Washington" column reported that it was Goodling who ordered drapes to be placed over the partially nude Art Deco statues (Spirit of Justice) in the Justice Department's Great Hall during Ashcroft's tenure as Attorney General. At the time, the department spent $8,000 on blue drapes to hide the two giant, aluminum statues, according to spokesman Shane Hix. The coverings were removed in 2005.

On April 2, 2008, NPR's All Things Considered reported that the Justice Department's inspector general is investigating whether Goodling was instrumental in the February 2007 dismissal of Department career attorney Leslie Hagen from her job due to rumors that Hagen was a lesbian. An e-mail shows that a few months before Hagen was let go, Goodling decided to remove part of Hagen's job portfolio.
On April 4, 2008, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee sought confirmation that the Department of Justice Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) were examining the case of the dismissal of Hagen. The Inspector General confirmed the NPR report and in February 2009 Hagen was hired back at her previous position.

On July 15, 2009, Washington Blade's "The Latest" column reported that it was Goodling who asked Michael Elston to lead a 2006 screening committee for the Justice Department Summer Internship Program. The column goes on to describe an evaluation of apparent discriminatory application process similar to the 2007 attempts to remove Department attorneys based on non-qualifying criteria. The research shows that under Goodling/Elston 82% of applicants with liberal affiliations on their resume were rejected for the program while only 13% of applicants with conservative affiliations were rejected.


  1. Cooperman, Alan. [1] Washington Post, March 30, 2007. Retrieved June 15, 2007.
  2. Letter from Goodling's attorneys to Senator Patrick Leahy, Judiciary Committee, March 24, 2007
  3. Transcript: FBI Director Robert Mueller at Senate Judiciary Committee; March 27, 2007
  4. Gonzales aide gets immunity
  5. John Dowd bio
  7. New York Times website: July 28, 2008.
  10. Leahy, Specter Push For Inclusion Of Hagen Case In IG-OPR Investigation
  11. NPR article
  12. NPR story
  13. Reference Blade article

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