Timeline for a Timebomb: Rachel Paulose

Eric Black has been doing his usual. His post on the investigation of U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose provides a folly of a footnote to a story that ties Minnesota to the national scandal that led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales--but that's not what the investigation is about.

Of the investigation by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, underway since June, Black writes:

"The conflicts enumerated in this matter are not explicitly political or ideological, except for one instance in which Paulose allegedly made false statements about a job candidate who had liberal associations.

"But the pattern of the matters under investigation by the special counsel may shed some light on the gray area between issue of 'management style' and issues of politics.

"When Paulose took over the office, she told several of the career officials there that she demanded total personal loyalty. At least one replied that loyalty was owed to the Constitution, not to her. Many of the allegations raise the possibility that Paulose crossed the line while seeking to punish personal disloyalty."

In the spirit of homework, here's an abridged timeline of the entire Paulose debacle. It begins with a choir and a color guard. Where it ends...well, stay tuned.


DECEMBER 2006: Rachel Paulose is confirmed as the federal government's top prosecutor in Minnesota. Senator Norm Coleman, who nominated Paulose for the post, releases a statement praising her as "extremely competent."

Paulose is the first woman to fill the post in Minnesota, something her former colleague Scott Johnson at the conservative blog Power Line apparently found novel. Just before the confirmation, Johnson wrote that he had told Paulose that if her legal career didn't work out, she could always go into modeling. Good God Scott Johnson--take that act back to 1950. Better yet, retire it altogether.

JANUARY 2007: McClatchy Newspapers reports that Paulose is or has been a member of the Federalist Society, a distinction she shares with the likes of John Ashcroft, Orrin Hatch, William Kristol, and Antonin Scalia. The organization is perennially alarmed by "orthodox liberal ideology" in law schools and the legal profession.

In addition to the Federalist Society revelation, McClatchy also identifies Paulose as one of at least nine recently named U.S. Attorneys with close Bush administration ties--in her case, a stint as counselor to the deputy attorney general.

MARCH 9, 2007: Rachel Paulose is sworn in as U.S. Attorney for Minnesota. Government watchdog groups call the unusually large ceremony inappropriate. Paulose persuaded the University of St. Thomas to provide a $1,500 rental space for free. According to a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS report, the ceremony--some say coronation--included a processional, a professional photographer, a color guard and a choir.

Also in March, there are growing rumblings from Minnesota to Washington DC that the resignation of Paulose's predecessor, Thomas B. Heffelfinger, may have been something more complex than the "gotta look out for my family" story Heffelfinger told to the press.

APRIL 2007: Three top aides to Paulose revolt against her and resign their posts. Her human resources officer follows. A federal attorney, speaking to the Star Tribune anonymously, explained the departures with an observation on Paulose's leadership style: "Disagreement is treated as disloyalty."

MAY 2007: The now famous Monica Goodling testifies before the House Judiciary Committee about her role in administering the Justice Department's purge. Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison (D-5th) has the following exchange with Goodling over Paulose...

Ellison: Did Rachel Paulose's political affiliation play any role in her hiring?

Goodling: Yes, it did.

Ellison: And that would be that she was a Republican?


Also in the exchange was a revealing tidbit about Heffelfinger's standing with DOJ before his resignation. Apparently Goodling and her colleagues felt the U.S. Attorney was spending too much time on American Indian issues. "Shame on them," was Heffelfinger's blunt response.

JUNE 2007: Paulose attends a ceremony for a retiring colleague. When the colleague praises the dissenters in her office (the three aides and her HR officer who resigned in protest of her behavior) the room erupts in thunderous applause.

SEPTEMBER 2007: Eric Black posts a "modest scoop" on his blog, namely, that a Office of Special Counsel investigation into Paulose's tenure is focusing on allegations that she "mishandled classified information, decided to fire the subordinate who called it to her attention, retaliated against others in the office who crossed her, and made racist remarks about one employee."

The racist remark? Black only reveals that it utilized the words "fat," "black," "lazy" and "ass."

The "mishandled classified information" is apparently a matter of Paulose leaving classified war on terror documents laying around her office. Reckless if true--and true to her recklessness.

Rachel Paulose may or may not live out the last days of the Bush administration as a U.S. Attorney. For now, Paulose says she is "focused on doing the work of the people."

Like Gonzales, it seems inevitable that Paulose will eventually have to walk away from this squandered opportunity.

Someone cue the color guard--a recessional is imminent.