When Rachel Paulose was sworn in as the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota in March, she sparked a mini-scandal with her investiture ceremony, which is usually a demure affair held at the federal courthouse. She got free use of the University of St. Thomas Law School’s atrium, which usually rents for $1500. Three hundred people showed up for the event, which included a municipal choir and military color guard, and it earned her a “diva” title from law-gossip blogger David Lat. But all that pomp and circumstance now looks like an ill-fated wedding, with the couple headed to divorce court.
Paulose has been unceremoniously recalled to D.C. where she’ll be working at the Department of Justice’s office of legal policy, where she won’t have to manage anybody, since that’s apparently is not her strong suit. Newbie AG Michael Mukasey pulled Paulose out just as veteran prosecutors in Minnesota were reportedly planning a second mass resignation to protest her management. Three other managers, veteran prosecutors all, demoted themselves back to line positions back in April saying the just couldn’t work with her anymore. Her dictatorial management style supposedly included quoting Bible passages and hurling racial epithets at subordinates.
Paulose is a buddy of the now-famous Monica Goodling, another DOJ employee who played a significant role in placing “loyal Bushies” in U.S. Attorney jobs and who helped place Paulose in Minnesota. Paulose, 34, had little management experience when she was tapped by Bush in 2006 as an interim replacement for Republican Thomas Heffelfinger, whom the White House had initially targeted for firing. (He resigned unexpectedly.) Paulose has been the subject of two separate investigations into her conduct over allegations that she used racist language and also threatened to retaliate against subordinate who was going to report her for mishandling classified documents. (Paulose has denied all the allegations and claims she was cleared of the chargers regarding the documents.)
But Paulose didn’t help her case much when she went public last week claiming to be the victim of a witch hunt because of her membership in the conservative legal group, the Federalist Society. (Her supporters have also claimed dubiously that she was run out of town because of her major crackdown on human trafficking in Minnesota, that hot-bed of the sex trade.) People in the Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s office are clearly ready for a chorus of “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” and Mukasey has gotten some kudos for moving quickly to quiet the turmoil in Minneapolis.
But the fact that he’s brought Paulose to D.C. still doesn’t instill a lot of confidence that the new guy will be a whole lot different than the old. After all, Paulose held a similar position during Gonzales’ tenure. Given her clear lack of judgment as U.S. Attorney, you have to wonder about what kind of legal advice she’s likely to be giving her new boss.