IG: Justice employees pushed relatives for jobs

Thursday - 7/26/2012, 6:11pm EDT

By PETE YOST
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department's inspector general said Thursday that eight high-ranking employees in the department's management division improperly promoted the hiring of relatives for summer or full-time work or assisted others in doing so.

Seven of the employees violated federal law restricting employment of relatives and the eighth violated a federal ethics standard, concluded the inspector general. A ninth person, a Justice Department official, was criticized for failing to respond to indicators that her subordinates may have violated anti-nepotism laws.

The IG's report is the third investigation of improper hiring practices in the division. The inspector general criticized two previous directors of the Facilities and Administrative Services Staff in 2004 and again in 2008 for manipulating the competitive hiring process to favor particular candidates.

The investigation began after Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., reported that the children of three senior Justice Management Division officials had been hired illegally. The probe led to uncovering additional instances of nepotism.

In the new report, the IG found that an assistant director for human resources and the director of the Facilities and Administrative Services Staff engaged in nepotism by hiring each other's children.

According to the IG, Pamela Cabell-Edelen waged a sustained campaign to secure a job for her daughter, which resulted in hiring the daughter as a secretary by the director of FASS, Edward Hamilton. Shortly after Cabell-Edelen improperly advocated for her daughter's appointment, Hamilton began advocating with Cabell-Edelen and other department officials for his son's appointment to a post in the management division, the IG said. The report also said that LaTonya Gamble, a subordinate of Cabell-Edelen, improperly manipulated the hiring process to help Cabell-Edelen's daughter.

The IG concluded that Cabell-Edelen and Gamble made false statements to investigators and that Hamilton made misleading statements to investigators in an effort to minimize his role in getting his son a job.

Additionally, the report found that:

_Michael Clay, the deputy director of FASS, and Jeanarta McEachron, the assistant director for human resources, simultaneously attempted to assist each other's relative in securing federal employment. Clay improperly persuaded McEachron to hire his daughter. McEachron improperly persuaded Clay to attempt to help her brother find a position at the Justice Department.

_Human Resources Director Rodney Markham made efforts to secure employment for two relatives _ his nephew who went to work in the Justice Department's national security division and cousin who went to work on the budget staff.

_Nancy Horkan, the senior adviser to the deputy assistant attorney general for human resources and administration, Mari Barr Santangelo, made efforts to secure jobs in the department for Horkan's son and her niece. Melinda Morgan, the management division's finance staff director, engaged in misconduct by appointing Horkan's son, the IG said.

Horkan's son and niece worked on the finance staff and the human rights staff. Santangelo was the highest-ranking person mentioned in the report. The IG said Santangelo was responsible for a management failure, especially given Santangelo's awareness of previous instances of nepotism.

In response to the IG report, DOJ spokeswoman Gina Talamona said the department takes the findings seriously and is moving quickly to address them.

"The attorney general and deputy attorney general have made it very clear to Justice Management Division (JMD) leadership that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated, that the department must maintain a zero tolerance policy and that swift and decisive action must be taken to deal with those involved in these activities," she said.

Talamona also said DOJ will immediate institute "corrective actions to ensure proper hiring procedures are adhered to and that ethical standards are followed." But she did not provide specifics about the corrective actions.

Federal News Radio intern Taeja Smith and reporter Ruben Gomez contributed to this report.

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