Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The perfect nominee...

Eight former employees of the Justice Department have written a letter asking key senators to block the nomination of David Palmer to head the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The former justice officials, including three ex-deputy section chiefs allege that Palmer’s “work performance was well below the high standards expected of Department of Justice attorneys."

They charge that in 2002, when Palmer was section chief, he actively undermined the unit’s mission to secure employment rights for women and minorities in the public sector, and he defended an employer’s right to discriminate based on religion (or presumably, lack there of).

The former employees' letter to Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and ranking Republican Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming didn't specify the circumstances of Palmer's alleged employee abuse. But it accused Palmer of treating many employees "with disdain and contempt."

Marian Thompson, who worked in the section for 18 years as a statistician, said that after becoming section chief in 2002, Palmer fired a veteran attorney with whom he had had a romantic relationship and that the woman filed a complaint against him. In a phone interview, Thompson expressed surprise that Palmer did not let someone else handle that personnel decision.

Richard Ugelow, a former section chief who teaches employment law at American University, said that it was "unheard of for the head of an agency charged with enforcing equal employment opportunity laws to be charged with violating those laws. ... He's supposed to be above reproach, to set an example for other employers."

Thompson said Palmer told her after taking over as chief that it was "ironic" that he was now supervising the lawyer who had reprimanded him for an omission in a discrimination case.

A Justice Department official, who declined to be identified on a personnel matter, said that under Palmer's stewardship, the employment litigation section's record has been "comparable to that of the previous administration." The official cited a recent suit against the city of New York that charged that its fire department, the nation's largest, uses a hiring examination that discriminates against African-Americans and Hispanics.

I wish I could work up at least a bit of shock, but sadly, I can’t. It is just par for the course for these jackals to put forth the worst nominee possible. So why not a nominee to head up the EEOC who has been sued for violating its tenets? For this crew, it might actually be a requirement that you be in violation of those contemptible rules you are supposed to undermine enforce.