Faith-Based Favors: Justice Department Official Fired After Invoking the Fifth Amendment in Congressional Investigation

Michele DeKonty, who served as chief of staff at the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), has been fired after invoking the Fifth Amendment and refusing to answer congressional questions over granting favors to certain organizations in federal grants. It is yet another scandal in the Bush Administration that shows how deep the damage has been at the Justice Department. She is accused of cutting corners for faith-based organizations. This is not good news for Regents University, the religious based law school that has been a favorite hiring ground for the Bush Justice Department. DeKonty is a graduate of Regents University and has been compared to that other infamous Regent grad, Monica Goodling.

DeKonty’s favors for faith-based organization were criticized in a letter from Beth McGarry, the deputy assistant attorney general for operations and management at the Office of Justice Programs to Robert Flores, the head of the office: “I am very disturbed that Michele advised you to disregard all the rules (that were posted on your website) and permit every late applicant an opportunity to submit an application.”

Notably, DeKonty actions were defended by Flores after McGarry called them “indefensible.” Flores said that helping faith-based groups was due to “their participation is a Presidential priority.”

McGarry correctly responded that “It is critical for the integrity of the competitive process that all applicants are treated the same and that we do not bend the rules for a category of applicants, such as faith based organizations.”

Flores, however, continued to defend waiving deadlines as a way to “avoid disaster.” They are accused of assisting World Golf Foundation’s First Tee initiative, “whose honorary chairman is former president George H.W. Bush, and an abstinence program promoted by Best Buddies, led by Elaine Bennett, spouse of Reagan administration cabinet official Bill Bennett.”

For the full story, click here and here.

15 thoughts on “Faith-Based Favors: Justice Department Official Fired After Invoking the Fifth Amendment in Congressional Investigation”

  1. look, can’t anybody not see that if you start a fire, too many people are busy putting out the fire before you realize that the robber barons have stolen you blind.

  2. Carly Bristol,

    “facts are facts. It was a gratuitous mention because it is factually incorrect, and could only be in there for an agenda laced tie-in.”

    What you said above is partially correct and partially speculation. The post can be wrong. That is a fact based point. Where you take the leap from fact to speculation is in stating that an incorrect fact in the post is axiomatically the result of a gratuitous, agenda laden motive.

    Many of us have made mistakes in our posts. My own motives for these mistakes have never been agenda based. They have been genuine errors. Perhaps an error in this post was just an error. I see no reason to belive that it is otherwise. It isn’t wrong to speculate on other’s motives but please don’t call that being factual.

    Thank you,


  3. Carly Bristol,
    I admit that you are right. There is a rush to judgment against anyone who has been involved with Regent University. My own judgment, prejudice if you will, is that Regent University and its’ Law School represent the nadir of educational institutions. Definitely on a par with Bob Jones’ place.

  4. I just happened to be looking at Monica Goodling’s entry in Wikipedia before seeing this. Here’s a relevant portion, emphasis mine.

    On March 23, 2007, she took an indefinite leave of absence. On March 26, 2007, Goodling cancelled her upcoming appearance at a Congressional hearing, citing her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In its history, no Department of Justice employee has ever exercised his/her Fifth Amendment rights with respect to official conduct, and remained an employee. On April 6, 2007, Goodling announced her resignation from the Department of Justice, writing to Gonzales, “May God bless you richly as you continue your service to America.”

    It’s interesting to note that Esther Slater McDonald, implicated by the DOJ-IG’s report as being up to her neck in the politicization of the Department, was hired by Goodling. I think it’s even more interesting to note that Goodling was in turn hired by Mary Beth Buchanan, the USAttorney for Pennsylvania’s western region. I suspect that it will come out sooner or later that Ms. Bushanan (a typo, possibly Freudian, I’ll let it stand) was the Queen Bee of Loyal Bushies.

  5. rafflaw:

    “Do you think that Dundar would agree with his own reasoning?”


  6. Susan –


    That made no sense at all.

    All I said is that mentioning the school, leading to the suggestion that DeKonty was in fact a Regent law school graduate, is irresponsible. Spin whatever you want, call me by the labels you wish, but facts are facts. It was a gratuitous mention because it is factually incorrect, and could only be in there for an agenda laced tie-in.

  7. Carly Bristol wrote:
    “This was just a gratuitous mention to tie in the unconnected for a round at bashing the right.”


    Carly, your post is just more evidence that when “the right” is WRONG, and those of us who value little things like the integrity of the Constitution call “the right” on their obvious errors, you and the neocon “right” call it “bashing.” Small wonder why you and others who support the neocon fringe lose credibility by the day. Maybe that’s because the neocon crowd doesn’t MERIT any.

  8. “Apparently at Regent Law School…”

    “This is not good news for Regents University, the religious based law school…”

    Geniuses, does anyone do opposition research or investigative work here?

    Michele DeKonty was an undergrad at Regent, never went to its law school – graduated from elsewhere.

    I know there is a rush to judge everyone that has ever stepped foot on Regent’s campus, as knocking the right, religion and conservatives is what some people are good at, but hey, do some homework, This case was not Regent, was not a hire with the Goodling connection and should not be connected as such.

    This was just a gratuitous mention to tie in the unconnected for a round a bashing the right.

  9. rafflaw:

    Five Justices of the US Supreme Court thinks they are “persons” for purposes of habeas corpus, their geography notwithstanding.

  10. Dundar,
    You are so concerned about the Fifth amendment rights of this individual, what about the Fourth amendment rights being abridged by the Bush Administration in their warrantless wiretapping program? You mentioned the due process rights for individuals. Aren’t the detainees at Gitmo considered to be “individuals”?

  11. dundar:

    I am not sure what you are talking about, but let me just provide you the clause immediately preceding the one you cited from the Fifth Amendment:

    “…nor shall [any person] be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,….”

    The privilege is broader of course, and extends to civil litigation as well, and crime shows have done a respectable job in informing people about their rights, especially their Miranda due process rights. If you mean that it is an illogical inference to conclude that the absence of testifying implies guilt you are undoubtedly correct. That is why the prosecutor is prohibited from mentioning that in closing argument. There are many reasons a criminal defendant chooses not to testify. However, the neo-con crowd around seems to think that “common sense” rules the day and to them it is “common sense” that only the guilty refuse to profess their innocence–unless of course you’re Scooter Libby, or another of their own. You see the grammatical comparison here right? Dumb, dumber & neo-con.

  12. The Fifth Amendment prevents individuals from being punished without “due process of law.” Due process extends to all persons (including non-U.S. citizens within the U.S.) and corporate entities. Why do so many people construe “pleading the fifth” as somehow indicative of them unwilling to testify against themselves so they must have something to hide.

    I think America needs an education, and especially young lawyers, on just what the 5th Amendment is all about. Too many of them have obviously been watching too many detective, attorney, & crime TV shows.

  13. Apparently at Regent Law School, they have a course for lawyers interested in public service. It’s called “Proselytizing Your Faith At the Expense of The Constitution.” The emphasis is on your privilege against self-incrimination in the unlikely event that you get caught,and there is no ethics requirement.

    Apparently the oath these people [I am aghast to call them lawyers] take to defend and protect the Constitution has a religious loophole. They should pull the accreditation from that place now, and let their graduates be what they want to be–canon lawyers!

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