During her testimony, Monica Goodling identified former Minneapolis U.S. Attorney as one of the original Purgegate targets. She said that he had been selected in part because of the fact that he spent a great deal of time on the Attorney General Advisory Committee on Native Americans. Showing concern for a minority group was apparently per se disqualifying.
Today, Heffelfinger responded to these charges, coming very close to acknowledging in the process that he was forced out of office. In an interview with the Minneapolis NBC affiliate, KARE-TV11, he stated:
“I did spent a lot of time on it,” Heffelfinger said of the American Indian issue. “That’s what I was instructed to do” by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. Given the higher rates of violence suffered by American Indians, Heffelfinger said, the time was warranted, but it didn’t take away from other priorities.
“I had to work hard, but I was comfortable with the mix of my local responsibilities and my Native American responsibilities,” said Heffelfinger, who oversaw his office’s investigation into the 2005 shooting that claimed 10 lives on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in far northern Minnesota.
Goodling also stated that she had overruled promotion for the head of the Minneapolis office’s Civil Division after learning that she was a Democrat and a liberal.