Colo. prosecutor recommended by official in probe |

Colo. prosecutor recommended by official in probe

DENVER ” Colorado’s top federal prosecutor has confirmed that the attorney who spearheaded the insider-trading conviction of Joe Nacchio was recommended for his job by an official accused of improperly screening candidates for political loyalty.

But U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said he hired Cliff Stricklin as his first assistant because of his expertise and not because of the recommendation.

Stricklin was the lead prosecutor in the case against Nacchio, the former CEO of Qwest Communications International Inc.

The convictions have been overturned but that ruling is now under review.

Stricklin, now in private practice in Denver, declined comment.

Eid told The Denver Post in Thursday’s editions that Stricklin was recommended by Monica Goodling, who served as former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ counselor and White House liaison.

A Justice Department internal investigation concluded that Goodling routinely asked applicants about politics even if they had applied for jobs as prosecutors, immigration judges and other positions considered “career” appointments.

The federal government makes a distinction between career and political appointees.

It is a violation of civil service laws and Justice Department policy to hire career employees on the basis of political affiliation or allegiance.

Eid denied that anyone pressured him to hire Stricklin.

“What I read (in the Justice Department report) is Monica Goodling trying to take credit for something she had nothing to do with.

It is an absolute and total insult to Cliff Stricklin as well as to me.”

Eid said individual U.S. attorneys, not the Justice Department, choose their first assistants.

“I certainly checked in with the department and it is true Monica Goodling communicated with me and thought Cliff would be good, but she did not have anything to do with the choice,” Eid said.

The Justice Department report says Goodling interviewed Stricklin in July 2006 and told Eid in an e-mail that Stricklin was “on the team,” which the report says were Goodling’s code for politically conservative.

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