It’s a well-worn workplace maxim: Find your bosses digging through your e-mails, and start cleaning out your cubicle. You’re done. Something’s going to stick.
But what about when management sets up a de facto dragnet to spy on an entire department, which was just the dilemma ex-employees of former Department of Justice official Hans von Spakovsky claim they found themselves in two years ago?
At the time, multiple sources claim, the current Federal Election Commission nominee — who had a career appointment — acted hand-in-hand with senior Justice Department official Bradley Schlozman to philosophically redecorate the agency’s voting rights section.
“The responsibility for this gutting is partly von Spakovsky’s,” Joseph Rich told Roll Call on Tuesday. Rich, a Justice Department lawyer for more than 35 years, was the civilian head of the agency’s voting section from 1999 to 2005. “This guy was the de facto section chief.”
Through the White House, von Spakovsky — who spoke freely to reporters on a range of subjects prior to his confirmation hearing last week — declined to comment on the allegations.
Through a series of administrative maneuvers, former employees claim ex-special counsel von Spakovsky, working in tandem with Schlozman, took revenge out on DOJ troublemakers and purged the agency’s voting rights section. Von Spakovsky especially, some former employees claim, was not shy about his distaste of Justice Department bureaucrats, a defining trait at the locus of his alleged bullying and retaliation.
“What drives Hans is a deep, abiding mistrust of civil servants,” said Toby Moore, a former DOJ voting rights employee who now works at American University. “That really was his guiding principle ... animosity for civil servants.”
Von Spakovsky, now serving a temporary Republican appointment to the FEC, has been nominated by the White House to serve a full six-year term. While the process for FEC nominations is normally placid, von Spakovsky’s appointment has come under fire amid allegations he pushed controversial — and, some critics allege, possibly discriminatory — election laws in Georgia and elsewhere while at the Justice Department. During the confirmation hearings last week, Senators grilled von Spakovsky on his alleged involvement in controversial state-level cases, a tense exchange but one that yielded few new facts.
While Senators gave von Spakovsky additional time to answer questions on his involvement in the Georgia case and others — which alone may seal his fate — discussions with former DOJ subordinates suggest von Spakovsky’s daily involvement in management decisions belies his previous assertions he was merely a career soldier taking orders from political higher-ups.
“My job as a career counsel was to provide legal advice and make recommendations to the assistant attorney general,” von Spakovsky testified at last week’s hearing.