WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) -- Congressional investigators are looking into claims that a top U.S. Justice Department official illegally hired lawyers based on party affiliation.
Investigators are turning their attention to Bradley Schlozman, a top official in the department's civil rights division, McClatchy Newspapers reported.
Two former department lawyers told McClatchy that Schlozman told them in 2005 -- after noticing mention of their Republican affiliations on their job applications -- to delete the references and resubmit their resumes. Both attorneys were subsequently hired, the report said.
"He wanted to make it look like it was apolitical," said one of the lawyers, Ty Clevenger.
Schlozman, who did not respond to phone calls Sunday, had previously denied the claims in an interview with McClatchy and through a Justice Department spokesman.
Investigators are beginning to focus on Schlozman, McClatchy said, following last week's announcement that the Justice Department had begun its own investigation into whether Monica Goodling -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' former White House liaison -- illegally considered party affiliation when hiring entry-level prosecutors.
Federal law and Justice Department policies prohibit taking political affiliation into account in hiring personnel for non-political, career jobs.