According a copy of the petition obtained by the Texas Tech’s student newspaper, The Daily Toreador, the nine-page petition, which includes an appendix, calls Gonzales’s one-year professorship “a troubling example of a ‘celebrity hire’” and claims that the hiring of Gonzales by his “good friend,” Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance, “cannot be seen as a commitment to ethical conduct.”
Hance was a Democratic member of Congress for six years. He switched parties, becoming a Republican in 1985. Hance said in a July 7, news release that Gonzales will bring “expertise” and “experience” to Texas Tech and “prepare our students for success.” Hance did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment about the allegations .
“It is unclear what Gonzales has done that makes him deserving of employment at Texas Tech,” the petition states. “Does he have a noteworthy academic record? Does he have a record of publishing in law reviews? Was his service to his country particularly distinguished?”
Gonzales will earn a salary of $100,000. He was hired earlier this month to teach a class called “Contemporary Issues in the Executive Branch.” He was also tapped to help recruit minority students, the student newspaper reported.
Walter Schaller, a philosophy professor, circulated the petition opposing his hire. Schaller said Hance’s role in hiring Gonzales is not in accordance with his official duties, which “is to raise money and deal with the legislature.”
“The petition highlights in detail Gonzales’ controversies, or ‘ethical failings’ as attorney general and White House legal counsel including that he frequently misled or lied to Congress about the firing of U.S. attorneys; rejected the Geneva Conventions; denied the Constitutional right of habeas corpus; and appeared to be more loyal to President George W. Bush than to the Constitution,” according to the Daily Toreador.
Students have also protested Gonzales’s hiring.
The legal news website, Main Justice, reported that students have launched Facebook groups including “Alberto Gonzales Doesn’t Belong At Texas Tech” and “Texas Tech Students and Alumni Against Employing Alberto Gonzales.”
Gonzales, who also served as White House counsel, resigned in disgrace in 2007 following disclosures that he played a far more intimate role in the firings of nine federal prosecutors than he had admitted publicly.
In an interview in February with CNN, Gonzales characterized the U.S. attorney scandal and the public’s focus on it as “little negatives” and falsely claimed that a Justice Department watchdog report that probed the firings concluded that a majority of the dismissals were for “performance related reasons.”
Gonzales told CNN that Glenn Fine, the Justice Department’s inspector general, and H. Marshall Jarrett, head of the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility, “clearly found that there were performance related reasons for the removal of most of these U.S. attorneys and with respect to the remainder, they didn’t have enough information to draw definite conclusions.”
In an interview, David Iglesias, the former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico whose firing was deemed by the inspector general to be the most partisan of the nine, said Gonzales “needs to shoot straight with the American people.”
“Alberto Gonzales is showing the same remarkable disengagement he was criticized for by the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s report,” Iglesias told me. “This time, he is disengaged from the official findings of fact. The Inspector General’s Report officially found illegal political hirings of attorneys and immigration judges, an out of control Civil Rights section, and improper firings of U.S. Attorneys, myself included.
“The report, conducted by non-partisan, career investigators established our firings were ‘fundamentally flawed’ and rejected ‘performance-related’ reasons for seven out of nine U.S. Attorneys. In my case, the report examined and rejected every reason give for my firing as ‘disingenuous after the fact rationalizations.’ The Justice Department was a train wreck under the failed leadership of Gonzales.”
In fact, Gonzales’s is still under scrutiny by the special prosecutor appointed last year to conduct a criminal investigation into the attorney firings.
According to legal sources, Gonzales’s former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, has already provided information to special prosecutor Nora Dannehy, an Assistant U.S. Attorney from Connecticut, about the role Gonzales played in the dismissals.
Sampson is said to have told the special prosecutor that Gonzales was far more engaged in the attorney firings than he had previously disclosed during Congressional testimony and in interviews with Justice Department watchdogs.
In a Seattle University Law Review article published in early 2008, John McKay, the former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, who was one of the nine federal prosecutors fired, said Gonzales and his underlings may well have been involved in a “criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice,” which is exactly what Dannehy has been investigating, according to legal sources knowledgeable about her investigation.
McKay said the firings of Iglesias and Lam appeared to show that Gonzales and top DOJ officials may have lied to Congress and obstructed justice by interfering with public corruption cases and ongoing criminal investigations Iglesias and Lam had been involved in at the time of their dismissals.
“The elements of a prima facie case of obstruction of justice are: (1) the existence of the judicial proceeding; (2) knowledge of or notice of the judicial proceeding; (3) acting ‘corruptly’ with intent to influence, obstruct or impede the proceeding in the due administration of justice; and (4) a nexus (although not necessarily one which is material) between the judicial proceeding sought to be corruptly influenced and the defendant’s efforts,” McKay wrote. “The [federal] omnibus clause is a ‘catchall’ provision, which is broadly construed to include a wide variety of corrupt methods.”
Gonzales, meanwhile, is unfazed by the resistance he faces from the Texas Tech faculty. He told the student newspaper that his critics will come to see his presence as a “net positive.”
“We live in a country where, in the academic world, people can express publicly their approval and disapproval of various issues,” he said. “What I’m focused on, is demonstrating that I’m serious about this teaching responsibility. I’m also serious about promoting diversity within Texas Tech. I hope that people will treat me fair and give me an opportunity to demonstrate that.”
"[DNC Chair Tom Perez] has gotten instructions from Bill Clinton not to let the party go to the Bernie Sanders folks." - Jonathan Allen, co-author of Shattered, revealing new material in the upcoming paperback release pic.twitter.com/dLEnwl7kIc— HootHootBerns 🌹🐦 (@HootHootBerns) May 3, 2018