Monica Goodling, a previously unknown Justice Department official who served as liaison to the White House, has become a key figure in the Attorneygate scandal. When newly released emails revealed the prominent role Goodling played in engineering the firing of seven US Attorneys, Goodling pled the Fifth Amendment, refusing to testify under oath.
Josh Marshall writes that Goodling may be "afraid of indictment for perjury because she has to go up to Congress and testify under oath before the White House has decided what its story is."
Goodling's involvement in Attorneygate is not the only aspect of her role in the Bush administration that bears examination. Her membership in a cadre of 150 graduates of Pat Robertson's Regent University currently serving in the administration is another, equally revealing component of the White House's political program.
Goodling earned her law degree from Regent, an institution founded by Robertson "to produce Christian leaders who will make a difference, who will change the world." Helping to purge politically disloyal federal prosecutors is just one way Goodling has helped fulfill Robertson's revolutionary goals.
Regent has assiduously cultivated close ties to the administration and its Republican outriders. Gonzales's predecessor, John Ashcroft, is currently cooling his heels at Regent as the school's "Distinguished Professor of Law and Government." Christian right super-lawyer Jay Sekulow, who also teaches at Regent and shares a Washington office with Ashcroft, participated in regular briefings with the White House on court appointments. In 1998, he leased a private jet through Regent to fly Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to speak at the school's 20th anniversary (Though Sekulow regularly argues cases before the Supreme Court, he apparently did not view hobnobbing with Scalia as an ethical breach).
When the Bush administration came into power, it looked to Regent for a reliable pool of well-groomed Republican ideologues eager to wage the culture war from the inside. The former dean of Regent's Robertson School of Government, Kay Coles James, was promptly installed as the Director of the Office of Personnel Management.
According to her bio, from 2001 to 2005, James was "President Bush's principal advisor in matters of personnel administration for the 1.8 million members of the Federal civil service." In that role, James rolled back the power of unions in the federal sector. Now that she's out of government, James is back among her Christian right allies, appearing frequently as a guest on James Dobson's Focus on the Family radio show.
Another Regent figure who impacted White House policy is Jim David, the current Assistant Dean for Administration in the Robertson School of Government. David was inserted in the Justice Department in 2003 as yet another sop to the Christian right; he served as deputy director of the department's Task Force for the Faith-Based & Community Initiative.
Since leaving the DoJ, David has spent a considerable portion of his spare time writing opinion pieces that appear on Regent's website. One of his most noteable screeds, penned in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, described a bright spot in the destruction of New Orleans. "We do not grieve, however, for the flooded and destroyed sex clubs that filled men with lust and degraded women," David wrote. "We do not miss the casinos that preyed upon individuals whose lack of self-control deprived families of needed food and shelter. We do not lament the destruction of voodoo stores prevalent in New Orleans before the flood."
At Regent, Goodling was drilled in the importance of unflinching loyalty to the Republican program. Once in the Justice Department, she proved an able cog in the Bush administration's political machine, meeting with Republican activists in 2006 to help plot the firing of New Mexico's prestigious US Attorney David Iglesias, a fellow Republican who "chafed" against administration initiatives.
But as scrutiny of her actions intensifies, the evangelical Goodling must resort to the 5th Amendment -- man's law -- to avoid breaking the biblical commandment against lying. Only the goodly and godly Pat Robertson could have prepared her to make such a decision.