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.”