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Whistleblower wins settlement against former US attorney

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U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose
Former U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Rachel Paulose.
MPR Photo/Elizabeth Stawicki

John Marti resigned his management post in April of last year. But, according to the Office of Special Counsel or OSC, Paulose was already taking action to demote him. Marti had alerted officials that Paulose routinely left reports about terrorist activities and potential targets unsecured on her office desk and on open bookshelves.

Federal regulations required that Marti report such actions. After his demotion, he filed a whistleblower complaint and in July, the OSC sent a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey that said Paulose retaliated against Marti.

The OSC released a statement that said: "Based on considerable evidence of intent, animus, and motive, OSC concluded that Ms. Paulose constructively demoted Mr. Marti."

Marti told the Associate Press that he was thankful for the investigation conducted by the Office of Special Counsel. Two other top supervisors stepped down from management roles at the same time as Marti amid reports that they were unhappy with Paulose's management style.

The self-demotions in Minnesota came as Congress was investigating allegations that eight former U.S. attorneys were fired and that U.S. attorney offices across the country were being filled by loyalists of President George W. Bush. Paulose had worked closely with top Justice Department officials who came under fire from Congress over the firings. Tom Heffelfinger had been on the list, but he left on his own to return to private practice.

Heffelinger, who preceded Paulose in Minneapolis, said the OSC's investigation statement was unusual in two ways; one that an investigation concerning a federal employee was made public and two, that it was strongly worded.

"What I can conclude is that John, who's a very, very good leader and a man with a lot of integrity, suffered from the public nature of his demotion if you will," Heffelinger said. "And I think that [the] OSC recognized that publicly he'd been wronged."

During its investigation, OSC transferred Paulose to a non-supervisory position with its Office of Legal Policy in Washington D.C.

DFL Senator Amy Klobuchar said she's pleased the office investigated Marti's complaint.

"It's very important that the U.S. Attorney's office, which has always been a jewel of U.S. Attorneys offices, our office in Minnesota, that it's been able to get back to work again," Klobuchar said. "That all of this unrest is behind us and this investigation has been concluded."

As part of a settlement, the Justice Department has awarded Marti back pay and money for any consequential damages. The Justice Department also agreed that any negative references will be removed from his personnel records. The amount of the payments was not disclosed.