The Legal Services Corp., whose directors have come under fire for opposing the program of free legal assistance to the poor, is in the midst of a new controversy over the hiring and firing policies of its president, Donald Bogard.
Last last month, Bogard summarily fired Margaret Walker, acting chief of the corporation's Office of Information Management.
Walker, who has worked for the agency for more than 11 years, said she believes her firing was politically motivated and has hired a lawyer to fight it.
Internal memoranda indicate Walker was fired because she asked to see the resumes of two new employes who had been hired by Bogard.
Walker has said she was curious about their qualifications and thought one of them was in line to become head of her office, replacing her.
Agency sources say that Walker was fired because officials believed she planned to leak the information to the press and to critics of Bogard.
Dennis Daugherty, vice president of operations, said in Walker's dismissal letter that she was being fired "for behavior which can be characterized as dishonest," and therefore was not entitled to severance pay.
Daugherty said that she has filed a grievance and he cannot comment. NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS . . . Rex Broome, who has been handling public affairs for the agency on a temporary contract for the past four months, was abruptly informed by Bogard two weeks ago that his services were no longer necessary. Inside sources say that the firing is no reflection on Broome's performance. They say that Bogard is no fan of the news media and would like to abolish the position.
Calls to Broome's telephone are answered by an agency operator who says that there is no office of public affairs. GRUMBLING IN THE RANKS . . . An analysis prepared last month by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association accused Bogard of replacing 17 high-level agency employes and consultants with extensive legal services experience with inexperienced persons. The group said that 13 of the new officials are active in Republican Party politics.
In addition, the group said that 12 of the 17 who left the program were women or minorities, while 15 of the 19 people hired were white men. Bogard responded that of the 12 full-time senior officials he has hired--excluding those working on temporary contracts--six are white males, one a white female, four female minority group members and one a male minority. Bogard had been asked by a Senate subcommittee to outline his recent hiring and firing practices. NAMES AND FACES . . . Still more personnel changes have been made at the agency. Robert E. McCarthy, a San Francisco attorney, has become the new chairman of the agency's board of directors, while Washington lawyer Frank Donatelli is the new vice chairman. Gregg Hartley, former executive director of Legal Aid of Southwest Missouri, has been named director of field services. Washington lawyer Alan Swendiman replaces Mary Wieseman as the part-time general counsel. James Streeter, former aide to Sen. James A. McClure (R-Idaho), is the new acting director of government affairs. Robert E. Washington of Annapolis has been named head of its Office of Equal Opportunity. Thomas J. Opsut, a former Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission official, has become the acting director of the Office of Compliance and Review.