Top Justice Department officials this week announced two major public corruption cases impacting federal jurisdictions controlled by U.S. Attorneys heldover from the George W. Bush administration. But only one of the U.S. Attorneys attended a news conference in Washington for the big unveiling of the investigation.
U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, who has led the Puerto Rico U.S. Attorney’s office since 2006, appeared beside Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday at Justice Department headquarters as he announced the arrests of more than 100 individuals in Puerto Rico, as part of the largest law enforcement corruption probe in FBI history.
But earlier in the week, Leura Canary, who has been the Middle District of Alabama U.S. Attorney since 2001, was not on hand for a news conference at DOJ headquarters when Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Criminal Division announced the arrests of 11 individuals in Alabama – including four state lawmakers – in a major investigation involving vote-buying and electronic bingo. Her office was mostly recused from the investigation.
Rodríguez-Vélez, whose U.S. Attorney nomination was never confirmed by the Senate, and Canary, who was appointed by Bush in 2001, are among about 10 U.S. Attorneys who have been in office since the previous administration. Canary prosecuted former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D) on a public corruption charge that many Democrats said was politically motivated. The U.S. Supreme Court in June sent Siegelman’s case back to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals for review after the high court limited the use of the honest services statute under which Siegelman was convicted.
President Barack Obama has not nominated replacements for Rodríguez-Vélez and Canary. Holder on Wednesday declined to comment about a possible successor to Rodríguez-Vélez.
“All I’m here to announce is the results of a great investigation and the wonderful work that has been done by the great U.S. Attorney,” Holder said.
This story has been updated.