Report: Paulose being investigated by federal agencyby Amy Forliti, Associated Press
Months after three of her top supervisors demoted themselves and she apologized for "her mistakes," U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose is being investigated by an independent federal agency that works to protect government whistle-blowers, a political blog has reported.
Minneapolis, Minn. (AP) — The investigation by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel was first reported Tuesday by Eric Black, a blogger who said Paulose was being investigated for mishandling classified information and then threatening to replace the employee who told her about it. She also allegedly retaliated against some staffers and made racist remarks about one worker.
Black, a former Star Tribune reporter, said he learned of the probe from "sources familiar with the investigation." Those sources were not named in his report.
Paulose was at a conference Tuesday and requests for a telephone interview were not immediately granted. But she released a statement through her office saying: "Since the matter is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time. I am confident the truth will be brought to light. I am focused on doing the work of the people, which is what I have been appointed to do."
A spokesman for the Office of Special Counsel said the office does not discuss investigative matters. A spokesman with the Department of Justice said he could neither confirm nor deny the information in the report.
There have been reports of turmoil in the U.S. Attorney's Office for months. In April, three top supervisors stepped down from their management roles and went back to prosecuting cases, prompting a visit from a high-ranking Justice official. The self-demotions also prompted U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, who had championed Paulose's nomination, to say he was "deeply disappointed."
At the time, Paulose apologized to staff for her mistakes but did not publicly comment on the office shake up.
The self-demotions drew national attention because they came as Congress was investigating allegations that eight former U.S. attorneys were fired and federal prosecutors' offices were being filled with loyalists of President George Bush. Former U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Tom Heffelfinger left his position of his own accord in 2006 - and Paulose was appointed to take his place.
Before her appointment, Paulose had worked closely with Justice Department leaders - including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who announced his resignation last month.
According to Black's report, Paulose is being investigated for allegedly leaving classified information about the war on terror in her office, sometimes unattended. Those reports were supposed to be locked away. Black reported that when then-First Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marti brought the issue to Paulose's attention and filed a report about it, she threatened to replace him.
Marti was among the three top supervisors who stepped down from a management role in April. He did not return a phone message seeking comment Tuesday.
Black also reported that Paulose retaliated against people she accused of being disloyal to her, in some cases ordering staffers conducting job evaluations to downgrade the reviews of certain people. In one instance, Paulose allegedly used the words "fat," "black," and "lazy" to refer to one employee.
While the Office of Special Counsel can't comment on specific cases under investigation, spokesman James Mitchell said in cases involving presidential appointees confirmed by the Senate, violations would be referred to the president.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)