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U.S. Pardon Attorney Replaced After Investigation Reveals Racial Comments, Retaliation and Mismanagement

U.S. Pardon Attorney Replaced After Investigation Reveals Racial Comments, Retaliation and Mismanagement

by Brandon Sample

The federal attorney responsible for recommending presidential pardons and commutations has been replaced following an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Roger Adams, the DOJ’s pardon attorney for over ten years, was removed after an investigation by the OIG – the DOJ’s internal watchdog – found that he had made racial comments and engaged in retaliation and mismanagement in his running of the Office of the Pardon Attorney.

The pardon attorney’s office reviews more than 1,000 requests for clemency each year and makes clemency recommendations to the president. As of October 2007, the office had a backlog of 3,055 applications, up from 2,255 the previous year.

According to a December 2007 report obtained by the New York Times through the Freedom of Information Act, Adams described a drug offender seeking a pardon as “about as honest as you could expect for a Nigerian.”

“Unfortunately, that’s not very honest,” he allegedly told a co-worker. After interviewing Adams, the OIG indicated it had no reason to doubt the accuracy of his alleged comment. Adams said he had “some faults, but racial prejudice is not one of them.”

The OIG report stated, “We believe that Adams’ comments – and his use of nationality in the decision-making process – were inappropriate. We were extremely troubled by Adams’ belief that an applicant’s ‘ethnic background’ was something that should be an ‘important consideration’ in a pardon decision.”

Further, since 2001 several unidentified staffers have filed complaints with the OIG claiming that Adams showed favoritism to certain employees, improperly displayed historical documents in his office that belonged in government archives, and threatened to retaliate against anyone who reported his misconduct.

Characterizing the Office of the Pardon Attorney under Adams’ leadership as a “poisonous work environment,” the OIG concluded that he had threatened to transfer or retaliate against staffers who complained about him. Adams voluntarily left his position and was transferred to the management division of the DOJ’s general counsel’s office.
In April 2008, a new pardon attorney was named: Ronald L. Rodgers, chief of the DOJ’s Drug Intelligence Unit and a former Marine Corps lawyer.

Source: Associated Press

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