When word first broke that Dr. John Lott had left the Crime Prevention Research Center and was currently a researcher at the Department of Justice, I wondered how long it would be before Democrats targeted him for dismissal. Now we have our answer: not long at all. Nine Senate Democrats have penned a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr demanding answers to their questions about why the pro-Second Amendment academic and author of books like More Guns, Less Crime ended up at the DOJ.
Dianne Feinstein is the first signature on the letter, though it’s an open question as to whether or not she’d remember her role in the missive. My suspicion is that Sheldon Whitehouse, whose name also appears on the letter, played a significant role in questioning the hire of Lott, which is clearly none of the Senate’s business since Lott wasn’t named to a Senate-confirmed position.
It was Whitehouse, remember, who spearheaded a blackmail letter in the form of an amicus brief in the challenge to a New York City gun control law. Whitehouse, along with senators like Kirsten Gillibrand, threatened to “restructure” the Court if it dared to overturn the gun law in question. The Supreme Court ultimately punted on a decision in the case, ruling that the city had made the lawsuit moot by changing the law in question after SCOTUS agreed to hear the case.
In that brief, Whitehouse was joined by Sens. Dick Durbin, Mazie Hirono, Richard Blumenthal, and Gillibrand. The recent letter sent to the Attorney General was signed by Durbin, Hirono, and Blumenthal as well, along with Feinstein, Pat Leahy, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Coons, and Cory Booker.
Threatening the Supreme Court was apparently a bridge too far for some of these senators, but threatening the job of a researcher and analyst at the Department of Justice is a-ok. In the letter the Democrats say that they’re writing for information not only on the hiring of Lott, but on “the completed and potential conversions of political appointees to civil service positions” at DOJ.
The Department recently hired John Lott, a pro-gun advocate who claims that widespread gun ownership can reduce crime. Although the Department has confirmed that Lott was hired as a senior advisor in the Office of Justice Programs, it has not said whether Lott is serving in a career civil service position or as a political appointee. Lott himself has said that he “took a job at the Department of Justice” and that he is “really not supposed to say more than that.”
This coincides with reports that Heidi Stirrup, the Department’s White House liaison, was recently barred from the Department after extending job offers to political allies and attempting to interfere in the hiring process for career personnel.
These events raise concerns about the Department’s compliance with requirements designed to maintain the continued integrity of the nonpartisan career civil service.
Actually, they really don’t. The hiring of Lott wouldn’t raise any eyebrows except for the fact that he supports the Second Amendment. Why should it be a problem if Lott’s research has led him to believe that increased gun ownership can lead to less violent crime? Do these senators really believe that research should be ignored in favor of an ideological litmus test that demands all DOJ employees embrace the idea that restrictive gun control is the answer to reducing violent crime?
As for Heidi Stirrup, as the senators themselves note, Stirrup was allegedly barred from the Department after overstepping her bounds. That would indicate that the Department is acting as it should when it comes to the integrity of the civil service.
The letter goes on with demands to know the status of Lott’s hiring as well as a list of all political appointees hired since 2017 who are now in civil service positions, asking Barr to deliver his response in writing by December 22nd.
I’m hoping Barr’s response is a short and sweet, “Go pound sand,” but he may have already sent the Senators another message. A picture says a thousand words, after all.
Quite a week. It starts with nine Democrat Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee calling for my removal from the USDOJ. Now on Thursday I and others got to have our pictures with the AG. pic.twitter.com/RDFJ2eNpFz
— John R Lott Jr. (@JohnRLottJr) December 10, 2020
Yep. That’s John Lott and Attorney General William Barr at the Department of Justice today.
Maybe the AG doesn’t need to tell the Senate Democrats to pound sand after all. He could just send them each an autographed copy of this picture.