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Bush Loyalist Rose Quickly at Justice
To her detractors, Goodling was an enforcer of political loyalty who was not squeamish about firings -- of interns or of senior officials.
"She forced many very talented, career people out of main Justice so she could replace them with junior people that were either loyal to the administration or would score her some points," said a former career Justice official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
Until this latest controversy, Goodling worked in such obscurity that newspapers did not have pictures of her. Regent University, where she attended law school, would not allow The Washington Post to use a picture of her that appeared on an alumni Web site.
Goodling majored in communications at Messiah College, a Christian school in Grantham, Pa., that does not have co-ed dorms or allow alcohol on campus. Her political science professor, Dean Curry, recalls her as a "bright, responsible young woman" who was student body president and "was very serious about politics."
Goodling enrolled in law school at American University but transferred to Regent, founded by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson in Virginia Beach.
Goodling and her lawyer declined to comment for this article, and classmates said they did not recall the reasons for her transfer. But "the curriculum at Regent is different from other law schools. There is an attempt by professors to integrate biblical principles into areas of the law," said Dugan Kelley, who worked with Goodling on Regent's moot court.
After earning a joint degree in law and public policy in 1999, she worked as a researcher for the Republican National Committee on the Bush campaign, then moved to the Justice Department's press office. She spent six months with the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District of Virginia. A friend and former department co-worker, Susan Richmond Johnson, said Goodling was also an amateur photographer and world-class baker of desserts, but had little time for a social life because she was "the first to arrive at the Justice Department in the morning and the last to leave at night."
"She is very motivated by her faith," Johnson added. "She doesn't wear her faith on her sleeve, but she lives a very faithful life."
Greg Wilhelm, a Regent law school classmate, said Goodling also "developed a very positive reputation for people coming from Christian schools into Washington looking for employment in government, always ready to offer encouragement and be a sounding board."
Staff researcher Rena Kirsch contributed to this report.