Posts Tagged ‘John Edwards’
Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) will hold up the U.S. Attorney nominee for the Eastern District of North Carolina, despite a previous report that he would not delay the confirmation process, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported today.

Richard Burr (Gov)

Richard Burr (Gov)

Senators can hold up a nominee from their state if they do not return a “blue slip” in favor of the nominee. The Republican senator will withhold a “blue slip” from the Senate Judiciary Committee for Eastern District of North Carolina U.S. Attorney nominee Thomas G. Walker — delaying action on the nomination.

Current U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, is overseeing federal probes into former Gov. Mike Easley and Sen. John Edwards, who are both Democrats. Burr said he is worried about Walker’s ties to the two prominent Democrats.

“I believe Thomas Walker, who was nominated by the president to be Mr. Holding’s successor, is well-qualified to serve as U.S. attorney, and I support his nomination,” Burr said in a statement reported by The News & Observer. “It is clear, though, that political contributions made by Mr. Walker to the former North Carolina elected officials currently under investigation represent a conflict of interest, and would potentially require his recusal from those very investigations.”

The senator’s decision will take pressure off of Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), who has worked hard to avoid appearing as if she supports removing a Republican U.S. Attorney from his position overseeing investigations into prominent Democrats.

Hagan recommended Walker for the U.S. Attorney post in July. But she asked the White House to allow Holding to continue his oversight of the two federal investigations.

Since Walker was tapped last week, Hagan has had conversations about Holding’s tenure with Obama administration officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder. The Attorney General gave assurances to Hagan, but the White House has remained mum.

Burr said he will lift his hold on Walker when the probes are finished, according to the Raleigh-based newspaper.

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) told Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday that she wants a U.S. Attorney who is a holdover from the George W. Bush administration to continue his oversight of federal investigations into two high-profile Democrats, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported today. She had earlier said the same thing to the White House.

Kay Hagan (Kayhagan.com)

Kay Hagan (Kayhagan.com)

The Democratic senator recommended  Thomas G. Walker as the nominee for U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina in July. But she urged the White House to allow current U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding to continue his oversight of federal probes into former Gov. Mike Easley and Sen. John Edwards, who are both Democrats, even after Walker is confirmed. The White House has remained quiet on Holding’s tenure since President Obama nominated Walker last week.

Hagan, who won a close election last year in her conservative state, has worked hard to not seem as though she backs removing Holding from his position overseeing the Easley and Edwards investigations.

Holder gave assurances to the North Carolina senator in a brief telephone conversation on Monday, according to the newspaper.

“The attorney general assured the senator that the Justice Department handles investigations based solely on their merit and without regard to the political affiliation of the U.S. attorney,” Justice Department spokesperson Melissa Schwartz told The News & Observer.

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) doesn’t plan to delay the confirmation of the U.S. Attorney nominee for his state’s Eastern district, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported Friday.

Richard Burr (Gov)

Richard Burr (Gov)

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) recommended  Thomas G. Walker as the nominee for U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina in July. But she asked the White House to allow current U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, to continue his oversight of federal probes into former Gov. Mike Easley and Sen. John Edwards, who are both Democrats.

President Obama nominated Walker last week, but the White House hasn’t spoken about whether Holding would be asked to remain to work on those cases after Walker is confirmed.

Hagan, who won a close election last year in her conservative state, has bent over backwards to avoid appearing as if she supports removing Holding from his position overseeing the Easley and Edwards investigations.

She can withhold a “blue slip” from the Senate Judiciary Committee for Walker — delaying action on the nomination — if the White House doesn’t want Holding to continue his work on the probes once Walker is confirmed. Senators can hold up a nominee from their state if they do not return a “blue slip” in favor of the nominee.

Hagan said in a conference call with reporters last week that she hasn’t thought about that option, according to the Raleigh newspaper. But, as for her Republican colleague Burr, he said he would not delay Senate action on the Democratic nominee.

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) said yesterday that the White House hasn’t told her whether it will allow a U.S. Attorney who is a holdover from the George W. Bush administration to continue his work on two high profile investigations of North Carolina Democrats after a replacement chosen by President Barack Obama is confirmed by the Senate, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported last night.

Kay Hagan (Kayhagan.com)

Kay Hagan (Kayhagan.com)

The Democratic senator recommended  Thomas G. Walker as the nominee for U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina in July. But she urged the White House to allow current U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, to continue his oversight of federal probes into former Gov. Mike Easley and Sen. John Edwards, who are both Democrats. The White House has remained mum on Holding’s tenure since Obama nominated Walker on Monday.

“I will continue to have those discussions,” Hagan told the newspaper in a weekly conference call with reporters. “I think Holding should complete his investigation.”

We reported yesterday that legal experts said Holding will likely continue his work on the probes until they are complete.

Hagan, who won a close election last year in her conservative state, has worked hard to avoid appearing as if she supports removing Holding from his position overseeing the Easley and Edwards investigations.

She can withhold a “blue slip” from the Senate Judiciary Committee for Walker — delaying action on the nomination — if the White House doesn’t want Holding to continue his oversight of the probes once Walker is confirmed. Senators can hold up a nominee from their state if they do not return a “blue slip” in favor of the nominee.

According to the Raleigh newspaper, Hagan said in the conference call that she hasn’t thought about that option.

“Right now, I’d have to go and see how that process is done,” Hagan told reporters. “But I do not think I will, uh, I’m not going to comment on that right now. Let’s leave that one for another day.”

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

The White House is keeping quiet on whether it will allow a U.S. Attorney who is a holdover from the George W. Bush administration to continue his work on two high profile investigations of North Carolina Democrats after a replacement chosen by Barack Obama is confirmed by the Senate, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported today.

George E.B. Holding (DOJ)

George E.B. Holding (DOJ)

President Obama on Monday tapped lawyer Thomas G. Walker to succeed George E.B. Holding, as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Holding is overseeing federal probes of former Gov. Mike Easley and Sen. John Edwards, who are both Democrats.

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) recommended Walker for the post, but asked the White House to keep Holding at the Raleigh-based U.S. Attorney’s office to complete work on the investigations even after his replacement is confirmed by the Senate. The White House declined to comment to the newspaper on the matter.

Legal experts told The News & Observer that Holding will likely continue his work on the probes until they are complete.

“If there’s resistance, [Hagan] could put a hold on [the Walker nomination.] But that’s just awkward,” Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who studies the Justice Department, told the newspaper. From Hagan’s point of view, he said, “It’s your president, and your suggestion for the nominee. But I think maybe the White House and the Justice Department would be flexible about that, if that’s what she wants.”

Holding, who has been U.S. Attorney since 2006, refused to acknowledge the existence of the probes in an interview with The News & Observer. The newspaper said he didn’t seem concerned about leaving office.

“It is the president’s choice,” Holding told The News & Observer.

We reported last month that Holding didn’t seem eager to step down from his post. He attended a meeting of the conservative Federalist Society in November and expressed concern about the direction President Obama is taking the judiciary.

Monday, November 30th, 2009

President Obama nominated U.S. Attorneys for Wyoming, the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Eastern District of Michigan today. They are:

  • Christopher A. Crofts (Wyoming): Gov. David Freudenthal’s legal counsel since 2006 previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for 16 years. He would replace Bush holdover Kelly Rankin, who has headed the office since 2008.
  • James L. Santelle (Wisconsin Law Journal).

    James L. Santelle (Wisconsin Law Journal).

    James L. Santelle (Eastern District of Wisconsin):  The Assistant U.S. Attorney has served in his current role since 1985. While working in the office he simultaneously has had stints as  principal deputy director for the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, civil division chief for the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Michigan and a Justice Department attaché. He would replace Steven Biskupic who was appointed U.S. Attorney by Bush in May 2002. In 2007, Biskupic and his office came under review by congressional investigators looking into the dismissal of U.S. Attorneys. He resigned in January to join the Milwaukee law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich as a litigator.

  • Thomas G. Walker (Courtesy Alston + Bird)

    Thomas G. Walker (Alston & Bird)

    Thomas G. Walker (Eastern District of North Carolina): The partner at Alston & Bird, LLP has been with the firm since 2003. He previously served as special counsel to North Carolina attorney general Roy A. Cooper, III,  an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina and an assistant district attorney for Mecklenburg County, N.C. Walker would replace Bush holdover George E. B. Holding. Holding is overseeing federal probes of two prominent Democrats: Former Gov. Mike Easley and two-time presidential candidate, ex-Sen. John Edwards.

  • Barbara L. McQuade (ICLE).

    Barbara L. McQuade (ICLE).

    Barbara L. McQuade (Eastern District of Michigan): The Assistant U.S. Attorney has served in her role for 11 years. Simultaneously she has served as deputy chief of the national security unit since 2005. McQuade previously was an associate at Butzel Long, P.C. She would replace Stephen J. Murphy who became U.S. Attorney in 2006. In 2008 he became a federal judge in the Eastern District of Michigan.

Obama has now made a total of 34 U.S. Attorney nominations. The full Senate has considered 24 of those nominees and they were all confirmed by unanimous consent.

Ryan Reilly contributed to this report.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Benjamin David (gov)

Benjamin David (gov)

Benjamin David, the district attorney for New Hanover and Pender counties in North Carolina, on Wednesday announced that he is removing his name from consideration for nomination as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Wilmington television station WECT reports.

David was one of three people that Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) had recommended to President Obama. The other two people are Hampton Dellinger, a partner at the Chapel Hill law firm of  Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, and Thomas Walker, a partner at the Charlotte law firm of  Alston and Bird.

David cited his desire to remain in the DA’s office, among other personal and professional reasons, for his decision to withdraw from consideration, WECT reported. According to the television station, David said he plans to run for re-election as district attorney next year.

Obama has yet to name a nominee, which might be due in part to the fact that Hagan has said she wants the current Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney, George Holding, to stay in office until he can complete probes of two prominent Democrats: former Gov. Mike Easley and former Sen.  John Edwards.

Monday, November 16th, 2009

U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding hasn’t made it easy for President Barack Obama to appoint a new top federal prosecutor in North Carolina’s Eastern District. The George W. Bush appointee is overseeing investigations of two prominent Democrats — former Gov. Mike Easley and John Edwards — and hasn’t shown any inclination he’ll step down.

The situation has caused Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) to take the contorted position that the White House should move ahead with a Democratic nominee and keep Holding on to finish the probes. The predictable result: No nomination has moved for the Eastern District.

With Hagan bending over backwards not to appear partisan, what about Holding? He appears less concerned with appearances. Last week, he attended the conservative Federalist Society meeting in Washington and expressed concern about the direction Obama is taking the judiciary, the National Law Journal reported.

George E.B. Holding (DOJ)

George E.B. Holding (DOJ)

Holding made his remarks during a question-and-answer period following a speech from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) last Thursday at the society’s National Lawyer Convention. He identified himself as a “prosecutor from North Carolina,” a C-Span video of event shows.

“I’m concerned about the changing makeup of the 4th Circuit,” said Holding, who has served as U.S. Attorney since September 2006.

President Barack Obama tapped James A. Wynn Jr. and Albert Diaz, both of North Carolina, and Barbara Milano Keenan of Virginia for judgeships in the 4th Circuit.

Sessions said he is concerned with 4th Circuit judge Andres David of Maryland, who was confirmed Nov. 9. But he said Republicans are reluctant to hold up judicial nominees.

“We’ve resisted filibusters of judges, thinking it’s not a good idea,” Sessions said.

Hagan recommended that Obama nominate one of three men: Benjamin David, district attorney for New Hanover and Pender counties; Hampton Dellinger, a partner at the Chapel Hill law firm Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson; or Thomas Walker, a partner at Charlotte law firm Alston and Bird, for the post. David on Wednesday said he has removed his name from consideration.

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009
Pierce O’Donnell (www.pierceodonnell.com)

Pierce O’Donnell (www.pierceodonnell.com)

Federal prosecutors are arguing that a prominent Democratic attorney in Los Angeles violated the spirit of the Federal Election Campaign Act when he made donations to John Edwards’s 2004 presidential campaign in his clients’ names, The National Law Journal reports.

Plaintiff attorney Pierce O’Donnell in 2003 donated $26,000 to Edwards’s campaign in the names of 13 other people, the government has alleged.

In June, a California judge dismissed the bulk of charges against O’Donnell. The ruling by U.S. District Judge S. James Otero was a setback for then-U.S. Attorney Tom O’Brien, a Bush appointee who resigned earlier this month to join the Paul Hastings law firm.

While FECA does not specifically address “conduit” or “indirect” contributions, federal prosecutors believe the donations violated the intention of the law, The NLJ reported. The law says: ”No person shall make a contribution in the name of another person or knowingly permit his name to be used to effect such a contribution, and no person shall knowingly accept a contribution made by one person in the name of another person.”

The brief filed Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit was signed by acting U.S. Attorney George C. Cardona and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine C. Ewell and Erik M. Silber. The prosecutors wrote, “The question is not whether Congress could have used different words, but whether the wording Congress actually chose embraces the conduct at issue; here, it does.” They added, “There is no functional difference between contributing using a false name and contributing using the name of a straw donor.”

O’Donnell is represented by George J. Terwilliger III, a partner at White & Case.

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

The Associated Press profiles George Holding, the U.S. Attorney in Raleigh, N.C., who’s managed to hang onto his job because he’s investigating prominent Democrats, making other prominent Democrats scared to touch him.

George Holding (gov)

George Holding (gov)

Read The AP profile here.

The profile is nicely written but left me with a lot of unanswered questions. For example, what are the political pressures on Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.)? As the state’s Democratic senator, Hagan gets to recommend the next U.S. Attorney. But she is obviously one of those Democrats scared to death of this mess, because she’s recommended that President Obama retain Holding, a protege of the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), a far-right conservative.

Hagan wants Holding to finish his investigations of Gov. Mike Easley and former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. Read our previous report here.

The story quotes Helms’s former chief of staff,  Jimmy Broughton, saying: ”One thing George is not is political.”

There wasn’t a thing about Helms that was not political. So to me, this statement really translates as: “We are going to tell people George is not political, so he can finish off these highly political investigations of Easley and Edwards.” But maybe I’m wrong. Readers, any thoughts?