A prosecutor claims that Rachel Paulose delayed a top Justice Department initiative so she could focus on planning a ceremony commemorating her confirmation as U.S. attorney for Minnesota.
That's one of several allegations documented in a Nov. 19 letter by Office of Special Counsel chief Scott J. Bloch to Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The letter, which recently became public, was followed by another one sent to Mukasey last week, in which Bloch complained that the Justice Department has impeded his investigation into Paulose's conduct and the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.
The November letter details the complaints of John Marti, who resigned from his management post as first assistant U.S. attorney under Paulose. She has since stepped down to take a job with the Justice Department in Washington.
According to the letter, Marti said that Paulose delayed implementing Project Safe Childhood, a program aimed at protecting children from online exploitation and abuse. Paulose, the letter says, "stated directly to Marti that the investiture (ceremony) was the most important event to happen to the office," and used up to six employees to work on planning for it.
"According to Mr. Marti, if Project Safe Childhood had not been delayed by work on the investiture, (the U.S. attorney's office) would have been prosecuting child exploitation cases much more aggressively at least one year earlier than actually occurred," Bloch wrote.
Marti declined to comment on the letter, while Paulose was unavailable for comment, Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said.
Bloch said that Marti also complained that Paulose routinely requested Justice Department funds to pay for receptions, meals and other products not authorized for purchase with federal dollars.
"On one occasion, Paulose requested that staff purchase place settings and silverware to be used at a breakfast in her office for the Minnesota governor's staff," Bloch wrote. When confronted about regulations banning such purchases, Marti said, Paulose became irate, abusive and demeaning.
The letter also details allegations that have previously come to light, such as Paulose making racially disparaging comments about an employee and mishandling classified documents that should have been kept locked up.
Bloch concluded that there was a "substantial likelihood that U.S. Attorney Paulose has grossly mismanaged" the U.S. attorney's office "and has engaged in abuses of her authority" in that job. But he also reported that Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis wrote to him, demanding a retraction from Bloch's "substantial likelihood" finding.