George E.B. Holding, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina since 2006, announced his resignation on Friday.
Holding, a George W. Bush appointee, was held over as U.S. Attorney until the conclusion of a campaign finance probe into former presidential candidate John Edwards. His decision to step down was expected after the indictment of Edwards last week. The resignation will take effect July 8.
Holding’s support for several of Edwards’ political opponents had raised questions about his role in the indictment, and in an interview with the News and Observer last week, Holding said he did not want to become an issue in the Edwards case.
Thomas Walker, a former federal prosecutor who currently works at Alston & Bird LLP, was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the post back in 2009. But North Carolina Sens. Kay Hagan, the Democrat who initially backed Walker’s ascension, and Richard Burr, a Republican, had worked to keep Holding in place while he oversaw high-profile corruption investigations into Edwards and former Gov. Mike Easley – both Democrats.
With the probes now completed, Hagan announced last Friday that she would allow Walker’s nomination to advance through the Senate Judiciary Committee, and David Ward, a spokesman for Burr, told the News and Observer last night that the senator would also support Walker’s nomination if Holding were to resign.
Holding cultivated a reputation for combating public corruption during his nine years at the Raleigh U.S. Attorney’s Office. After joining the outfit in 2002 as an Assistant U.S. Attorney under U.S. Attorney Frank D. Whitney, he went on to win prominent convictions against former North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps, former state Democratic House Speaker Jim B. Black, former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance, state Rep. Michael Paul Decker, Sr. and former U.S. Attorney Sam Currin.
“Our prosecutions have disrupted the culture of self-dealing and corruption that has existed in some circles among those who wield political power in Raleigh,” Holding said in a statement. “There should be no concern that the business of law enforcement will falter or diminish with the change in leadership.”