Bradley Schlozman stepped down from his position as a counsel in the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, a branch of the Department of Justice, last week, a Justice spokesman confirmed Wednesday.
Schlozman, a key figure in several political controversies, is under investigation by the department's inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility for allegations he was involved in politicizing hiring and firing decisions at the Justice Department. He is also a subject of the congressional probe into the U.S. attorneys firing scandal.
Last year, the 36-year-old Kansas native took a U.S. attorney post in Missouri after its previous holder, Todd Graves, was dismissed. Graves has said he refused to sign off on a lawsuit involving the state's voter rolls. The suit went forward anyway. This year, a court ruled against the Justice Department in the matter. The department is appealing the ruling. Schlozman had backed the case from Washington.
Once he became a U.S. attorney, Schlozman apparently broke with Justice Department policy, by filing a criminal voter fraud indictment against a liberal activist group within a week of the 2006 election. A department manual instructs staff that "most, if not all, investigation of an alleged election crime must await the end of the election to which the allegation relates."
His actions sparked concerns from many quarters, including veteran Justice Department attorneys, that he was attempting to influence the election for a U.S. Senate seat, which was close. They also fueled a growing belief among congressional Democrats that the dismissal of Graves and several other U.S. attorneys was part of an effort to use U.S. attorneys' offices for the benefit of the Republican party.
A federal judge dismissed the case in April. Schlozman told a Senate panel in June he did not believe his actions were going to influence the election, and that he was unaware of the group's political leaning.
During his time at Justice, Schlozman was no stranger to controversy. He was reportedly one of the handful of Bush appointees at the Justice Department who signed off on a 2003 plan to redraw Texas congressional districts and create more Republican-controlled seats, designed by then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Tex. The plan was opposed by career lawyers under him, who believed it disenfranchised minority voters. The Supreme Court later ruled parts of the plan were unconstitutional.
In 2003, Schlozman became a senior official at the department's Civil Rights division, which reviews and prosecutes cases of voter disenfranchisement. During his tenure, dozens of career lawyers left the office after sharply disagreeing with him and other political appointees over how to handle important cases.
Those departures, along with boasts by Schlozman that he increased the number of Republicans he had hired into the department, have driven concern that Schlozman brought an improper focus on political affiliation and activity at the Justice Department. Schlozman has denied those accusations, although he acknowledges he may have boasted about the number of Republicans he had hired.
Schlozman's resignation, which was first reported by the Web site TPMmuckraker.com, makes him the sixth figure connected to the U.S. attorney scandal to resign in recent months.
A Justice Department spokesman said Schlozman was moving to the Midwest to join a law firm there. Schlozman did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.
Photo courtesy of the Justice Department.
This post has been revised.