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Foley Scandal Figure & Schumer Aide to Justice

11:33 AM, Jan 27, 2009 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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While Barack and countless other Washington Democrats have spoken repeatedly about the need to depoliticize the Department of Justice, it looks like the president is handing a top job there to a former senior aide for Senator Chuck Schumer.

Matthew Miller, who spearheaded the communications operation at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee during the 2008 election, is moving inside the walls of the Obama administration as chief spokesman for the Justice Department. With Eric H. Holder Jr. expected to be confirmed as attorney general this week, Miller will be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. He's had good practice. Before working under Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the DSCC, Miller was communications director for the successful 2006 Senate campaign of Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

But notwithstanding this mild announcement, Miller is a polarizing figure with a controversial past. When Miller worked for the House Democratic Caucus in 2005, he came into into possession of inappropriate communications from Representative Mark Foley. According to CNN, he sent them first to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (Specifically, he sent them to Bill Burton, who's now a White House spokesman.) Miller also "shopped them to the press," according to the Washington Post, rather than the proper authorities. This behavior makes Miller one of the primary people responsible for Foley's chatting with pages going on far longer than it ought to have.

Later, Miller was the chief spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, under hyper-partisan Chuck Schumer. In that post, it was Miller's job to repeatedly attack Republican Senators and candidates, and spin for their Democrat opponents. For example, Miller repeatedly attacked Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell -- at times in quite personal terms. While Miller's role at the Department of Justice should not require him to interact regularly with McConnell and other Senate Republicans, his past is a source of friction between Congressional Republicans and the Justice Department.

So while Democrats have complained for years about how the Bush administration supposedly politicized the Justice Department, one of Barack Obama's first moves is to make a partisan hatchet man the chief spokesperson for the agency. Hope and change, Washington style.