Congressional delegation calls for cooperation in Justice probeby Toni Randolph, Minnesota Public Radio
Members of Minnesota's congressional delegation are calling for cooperation from the Justice Department as the investigation of the Minnesota U.S. Attorney's office continues. They've expressed concern about allegations that the probe -- and the one into the firings of eight U.S. Attorneys -- are being impeded.
St. Paul, Minn. — U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a DFLer, says it was "disturbing" to learn about the letter from the Office of Special Counsel, an independent investigative arm of the executive branch of the federal government.
The letter described delays in the investigation of complaints about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys and of the conduct of former Minnesota U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose.
Paulose resigned from the position last November to take a job in Washington, after a year that was marked by controversy. The letter from last November recently became public, along with another letter from last week.
"It indicated to me that there has been a foot-dragging, slow process in completing and providing info, and putting an impediment to the investigation that's ongoing," says Ellison. "This is a serious problem."
Ellison says he's worried that the delays in the investigation could harm public trust in the federal prosecutor's office. He also says justice, itself, is at stake.
"Anytime the inspector says the investigator is going too slow and there are impediments to the investigation, that ought to raise flags," Ellison says.
Republican Sen. Norm Coleman also says he's "troubled" to hear about the allegations of delays. He's urging the Justice Department to cooperate with the investigation.
Coleman's Democratic counterpart, Sen. Amy Klobuchar also issued a statement encouraging cooperation.
Paulose was confirmed as U.S. attorney for Minnesota in December 2006. Four months later, three prosecutors in the office quit their managerial posts.
One of those prosecutors was John Marti, whose complaints are outlined in the letter from the Office of Special Counsel to the Attorney General.
Marti accused Paulose of delaying the implementation of a program aimed at protecting children from online predators in order to plan a celebration of her confirmation as U.S. attorney -- a delay the letter said pushed back aggressive prosecution of child exploitation cases by a year.
But some members of the community are expressing doubt that the investiture ceremony had that kind of impact. Stuart Goldbarg is on the board of the anti-pornography, anti-prostitution organization Adults Saving Kids. He calls Paulose his hero, and says the complaints sound "preposterous."
"I find it difficult to believe that an investiture will cause a program to be delayed by a full year. It doesn't take that long to do an investiture," says Goldbarg. The letter said that six people were involved in it -- six employees were involved in the office. It doesn't say how many hours those employees spent on it."
Civil Society is another organization that works with victims of human trafficking. It's director, Linda Miller, says her experience with the U.S. attorney's office under Paulose was a good one. And Miller says doesn't know anything about the allegations made in the letters.
"With the support we received for the human trafficking victims, it doesn't seem like an action she would be involved in," says Miller.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota U.S. attorney's office had no comment. The Justice Department says it's reviewing the letter from the Office of Special Counsel and will respond.
- All Things Considered, 01/30/2008, 5:54 p.m.