Four former U.S. Attorneys have filed to run for office in Pennsylvania. Tuesday marked the deadline for major party candidates to file with the Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s office. The primary elections to decide who will run in the November general elections will take place May 18.
Tom Corbett, who was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania by President George H.W. Bush in 1989 and served until 1993, is one of two candidates vying for the Republican nomination for governor. Current Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) is term limited.
Corbett, who is the current state attorney general, will face state Rep. Sam Rohrer in the Republican primary. On the other side of the political aisle, four candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination: Montgomery County Commissioner and former U.S. Rep. Joe Hoeffel, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, state auditor general and former state Sen. Jack Wagner and state Sen. Anthony Williams.
Several former U.S. Attorneys are running for Congress in Pennsylvania:
Mary Beth Buchanan, who served as the Western District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney from 2001 until November 2009, is one of two candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the 4th Congressional District. She will face former Department of Homeland Security official Keith Rothfus in the Republican primary. Both candidates hope to challenge Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
In the 7th Congressional District, Pat Meehan, who led the Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2001 to 2008, is running unopposed in the Republican primary. Three Democrats — attorney Gail Conner, state Rep. Bryan Lentz and political consultant E. Teresa Touey – are looking to win their party’s nomination. The candidates hope to replace Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak, who is challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary.
Finally, Tom Marino, who was the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania from 2002 to October 2007, is one of three Republicans looking to unseat Rep. Chris Carney (D), who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. The other two Republicans seeking the nomination are chiropractor and 2006 state Senate candidate David Madeira and Snyder County Commissioner Malcolm Derk.
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Former Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan will decide within the next couple weeks whether she will seek the Republican nomination for a House seat in Western Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported today.
Buchanan, who served as the Western District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney from 2001 until November 2009, told the newspaper that she was “very encouraged” by meetings she had with local Republicans about seeking the 4th District seat just north of Pittsburgh that is held by Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), who is running for a third term.
“The common message I’ve been hearing, consistently, is that most voters feel the current administration is forcing its agenda and programs on people who don’t want them, who don’t feel like paying for them and who are not willing to leave this tax bill for future generations,” Buchanan told the Tribune-Review.
The ex-U.S. Attorney would likely challenge lawyer Keith Rothfus in the Republican primary, according to the newspaper. Congressional Quarterly rates the district as “likely Democratic” for the 2010 election.
Beaver County GOP Chairman Marty Matthews told the Tribune-Review that Buchanan would face an “uphill battle” if she runs. The former U.S. Attorney has received harsh criticism for her unsuccessful prosecution of former Allegheny County medical examiner Cyril Wecht.
Her office dismissed all charges against the prominent Democratic defendant after a federal judge threw out evidence that he ruled was improperly obtained. Wecht’s supporters accused Buchanan of targeting him because of his politics. And former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh asked Attorney General Eric Holder to discipline Buchanan for “vindictively” suggesting at a news conference that Wecht was guilty, but nothing ever came of the request -– at least publicly.
“Personal opinion, I think if there were another candidate who had the recognition that Mary Beth Buchanan has, it would be the better choice,” Matthews told the newspaper. “It’s the Wecht thing, primarily.”
We reported last week that Buchanan also came out on the losing end of an apparent political skirmish over a rescue mission for 53 Haitian orphans. She was trying to organize efforts to help Haitian children stranded in an orphanage destroyed by this month’s earthquake. But Altmire and Gov. Ed Rendell (D) planned their own rescue mission and kept the Bush U.S. Attorney mostly out of the loop.
Two other former U.S. Attorneys from Pennsylvania who served during the administration of George W. Bush have already declared their candidacies for House seats.
Tom Marino, who was the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania from 2002 to October 2007, is running for the seat held by Rep. Chris Carney (D). Patrick Meehan, who led the Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2001 to 2008, is seeking the seat that is being vacated by Rep. Joe Sestak (D), who is running against Sen. Arlen Specter in the state’s Democratic Senate primary.
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Former U.S. Attorney Tom Marino (R) on Wednesday formally announced that he is running for Congress, The Daily Item of Sunbury, Pa., reported. He said he will challenge incumbent Rep. Chris Carney (D) for his seat in Pennsylvania’s 10th congressional district, which includes Scanton.
Marino was the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania from 2002 to October 2007.
He made the announcement in Williamsport, recalling the attitude that his parents had instilled in him long ago: “A citizen of this great country had to give back double what he had received.”
Before becoming a federal prosecutor, Marino was a Lycoming County, Pa., district attorney.
According to the Allentown Morning Call, during his time as U.S. Attorney, Marino came under fire for proving a reference for Louis DeNaples on DeNaples’ gaming application for Mount Airy Casino Resort while Marino’s office was investigating DeNaples. After Marino resigned, DeNaples hired Marino as an in-house counsel for non-casino businesses. Marino recently resigned in order to focus on his congressional bid.
Marino will face at least three other Republicans in the primary. The Republicans who have officially announced their candidacy are anti-tax activist Chris Bain, Snyder County Commissioner Malcolm Derk and chiropractor David Madeira.
Two other Republicans who have been mentioned as possible candidates are businessman Dan Meuser and Lackawanna Trail School Board Member Daniel Naylor.
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Two moderate Senate Democrats — Jim Webb of Virginia and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who faces a tough re-election fight this year — criticized the attorney general in a letter released Tuesday.
“Your decision to prosecute enemy combatants captured on foreign battlefields like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is without precedent in our nation’s history,” the letter reads. “Today, those who subscribe to the same violent ideology as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed continue to plan and execute attacks against innocent civilians all over the world,” the senators wrote. “It is not in our national interest to provide them further publicity or additional advantage.”
Four other senators, including former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), also signed on to the letter.
O’Connor Criticizes SCOTUS Citizens United Decision
In a rare move, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor offered a critique Tuesday of her former colleagues in their blockbuster campaign finance decision last week, The Washington Post and The New York Times report. Speaking at a conference at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., O’Connor suggested the Citizens United decision, which struck down restrictions on corporate campaign donations, could spark an “arms race” in judicial elections and create a “problem for maintaining an independent judiciary.” The first female justice left the court in 2006 and has since become a staunch advocate for eliminating judicial elections.
“In invalidating some of the existing checks on campaign spending, the majority in Citizens United has signaled that the problem of campaign contributions in judicial elections might get considerably worse and quite soon,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor had one other reason to feel a bit piqued at her former colleagues: the precedent struck down Tuesday, the 2003 case McConnell v FEC, was an opinion she authored.
Former CIA Officer Pulls Back Waterboarding Claim
A former CIA officer who told ABC News that waterboarding techniques used on high profile detainee Abu Zubaydah led the al Qaeda operative to reveal actionable intelligence has retracted his claim, according to Foreign Policy magazine. In a 2007 interview, Jon Kiriakou told ABC’s Brian Ross that Zubaydah spilled his guts after a single round of waterboarding.
“From that day on, he answered every question,” Kiriakou said. “The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.”
But in a memoir set to be released next month, Kiriakou admits he may have been mistaken.
“What I told Brian Ross in late 2007 was wrong on a couple counts,” Kiriakou wrote, according to FP. “I wasn’t there when the interrogation took place; instead, I relied on what I’d heard and read inside the agency at the time.”
Kiriakou’s initial appearance on ABC News sparked intense debate, with pro-waterboarding forces frequently marshalling his interview as evidence of the technique’s effectiveness.
ABC News has since modified its story online.
Former U.S. Attorney to Challenge Carney in Pa.
Another former Bush-era U.S. Attorney is setting his sights on Congress. Former U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Marino, who led the Middle District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2002 to 2007, is expected to announce today that he will seek the Republican nomination to challenge Pennsylvania Rep. Chris Carney, a two-term Democrat.
Marino is the second Republican to enter the race. At least two other candidates have expressed interest in challenging Carney for his seat.
Another GITMO Detainee Released
The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it had transferred another detainee held at Guantanamo Bay to Switzerland for resettlement. The detainee, a man from Uzbekistan whose name was not released, is the 18th person to be released from the Cuban prison since December, according to Reuters.
The Obama administration has sought to close the camp, arguing that its perceived lawlessness has damaged U.S. standing around the world.
Antitrust Looking into Web Betting Site Merger
In the wake of the Justice Department’s approval of the Ticketmaster-Live Nation deal, the Antitrust Division has requested more information on a potential merger between two betting rivals, the Associated Press reports. Churchill Downs, owner of several horse-race tracks, including the namesake track in Louisville, Ky., where the Kentucky Derby is held, announced in November that it would acquire Youbet.com, the leading online horse betting site. Churchill Downs owns a stake in two rival betting sites, Twinspires and XpressBet.
Former Ashcroft Adviser Joins Prison Consulting Firm
At least he found a way to put his experience to good use.
A former adviser to Attorney General John Ashcroft who later served 24 months in prison for tax evasion and fraud has joined ISA White Collar Prison Consultants, a D.C.-based prison consulting firm.
Charles Polk Jr., who helped Ashcroft prepare for his confirmation hearings, was accused of stealing $45,000 from the St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District, a client of Polk’s employer, Doepken, Keevican and Weiss. He later pleaded guilty in federal court in 2006 to one count of tax evasion and one count of interstate transportation of money over $5,000 obtained by fraud.
Polk’s new firm specializes in providing non-legal advice to white collar clients. In a news release, ISA touted Polk’s knowledge of the criminal justice system “inside and out” as an asset.
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A former U.S. Attorney from the George W. Bush administration is considering running for the Republican nomination to challenge Rep. Chris Carney (D) in 2010, Congressional Quarterly reported today.
Tom Marino, who led the Middle District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2002 to 2007, met with National Republican Congressional Committee members today in Washington about a possible run for the 10th district House seat in northeastern Pennsylvania, according to CQ. Republican leaders previously tried to get Marino to run in 2008, CQ said.
The NRCC is still meeting with other potential candidates for the seat, including Republican state Rep. Mike Peifer, according to CQ.
Carney is serving his second term in Congress. The Democrat unseated Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.) in 2006 and won reelection by a 12 percent margin in 2008. But both Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Bush carried Carney’s district in the last two presidential elections.
CQ said Carney will likely win reelection.