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Justice Department Employees Cited For Nepotism In Hiring

The Justice Department inspector general has uncovered what he calls illegal hiring practices at the federal agency. In a new report he cites eight employees for trying to find jobs for their children and other relatives.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz says it's the third time in eight years that watchdogs have found nepotism within the Justice Management Division, which handles budgets, facilities and human resources at the department. The workers mentioned in the report are career, not political appointees.

"Most of the misconduct described in this report — the nepotism, the prohibited personnel practices, the ethical lapses, the false and misleading statements — was the result of bad behavior by individuals insufficiently impressed with the principles of fair and open competition," Horowitz writes.

In one episode, an assistant human resources director "undertook a sustained campaign to secure employment for her daughter," the report says. The daughter found a job under the supervision of the Justice Department's facilities unit. A short time later, the director of the facilities staff, who occupied a position of power within the division, advocated for a job for his son, who was living with the facilities director at the time. After the son was hired, he, his wife and their four children moved out of his father's house, according to the report.

At least two of the employees cited by the inspector general have retired or left the Justice Department for other jobs, meaning they no longer face discipline.

Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on department leaders Thursday to take action against the rest.

"Laws were broken and false statements were made," Grassley said. "The department can't just sweep this under the rug."

A Justice Department spokeswoman says it is "moving immediately to address the report's findings" and "the attorney general and deputy attorney general have made it clear ... this kind of behavior will not be tolerated."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.