Former Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich wants to draw from DOJ ranks to staff a unit charged with strengthening regulation and enforcement in the newly reorganized Bureau of Ocean Energy that he took over earlier this week.
As one of his first acts as head of the agency, Bromwich created a new investigations and review unit in the front office of BOE that will investigate allegations against agency personnel and the companies that it regulates.
“We are going to be hiring some of the top people available, but in the meantime I’m hoping to get on detail people from the Department of Justice with whom I’ve worked in the past and perhaps other people in government so that we will be able to get up and running immediately to address some of the very significant issues that are on my plate right now,” Bromwich said in testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday.
President Barack Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar named Bromwich to take over the agency formerly known as the Minerals Management Service, which had been accused of lax oversight and conflicts of interest in the fallout of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Bromwich had been a litigation partner resident at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP since 1999. He served as Inspector General for the Department of Justice from 1994 until 1999.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on whether Bromwich had discussed a detail with the DOJ, citing a policy not against discussing personnel issues.
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Former Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich took the reins Monday of the newly renamed government entity charged with the regulation of offshore drilling in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement — or the Bureau of Ocean Energy (BOE) for short — was named by Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar in a Secretarial Order dated June 18.
Bromwich was sworn in during a small ceremony Monday, less than a week after President Barack Obama announced he was taking over the division previously known as the Minerals Management Service.
In a statement, Salazar praised Bromwich’s qualifications for the job.
“Michael Bromwich has a strong track record of reforming the way organizations work, both in the public and private sectors,” Salazar said. “He will be a key part of our team as we continue to change the way the Department of the Interior does business, help our nation transition to a clean energy future, and lead the reforms that will raise the bar for offshore oil and gas operations.”
Salazar told The New York Times that he chose Bromwich from a list of nine candidates given to him by the White House. Bromwich had been a litigation partner resident at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP since 1999. He served as Inspector General for the Department of Justice from 1994 until 1999.
Bromwich, known during his time as Inspector General of DOJ as a meticulous enforcer of ethical standards, pledged tough enforcement of offshore drilling operations in a statement.
“The BP oil spill has underscored the need for stronger oversight of offshore oil and gas operations, more tools and resources for aggressive enforcement, and a more effective structure for the agency that holds companies accountable,” Bromwich said. “We will move quickly and responsibly on our reforms.”
Only Bromwich’s new colleagues attended his swearing-in ceremony, a spokeswoman told The Washington Post. Interior Department Communications Director Betsy Hildebrandt held the Bible for Bromwich as he took his oath.
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The White House announced Tuesday that former Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich will lead a planned reorganization of the Minerals Management Service.
The federal agency is part of the Department of the Interior and oversees oil and gas development. The Minerals Management Service has been accused of lax oversight and conflicts of interest in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The White House said that Bromwich would have a mandate to implement far-reaching changes and the resources to do it. He will be in charge of developing new oversight requirements and environmental and safety regulations.
Bromwich has been a litigation partner resident at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP since 1999. He served as Inspector General for the Department of Justice from 1994 until 1999.
In the mid-1990s, as the Justice Department’s Inspector General, Bromwich established a reputation as a meticulous enforcer of ethical standards who did not flinch from criticizing senior officials or entrenched bureaucracies. In one scathing report, he found the FBI’s crime lab was sloppy, mired in dysfunction and that analysts had faked evidence in important cases like the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. His review led to a top-to-bottom overhaul of the lab and its forensic procedures.
The former head of the Minerals Management Service, Elizabeth Birnbaum, stepped down last month.
The White House’s biography of Bromwich is reprinted below.
Michael R. Bromwich is a litigation partner in the Washington, D.C., and New York offices of Fried Frank where he heads the firm’s Internal Investigations, Compliance and Monitoring practice group. Mr. Bromwich concentrates his practice on conducting internal investigations for private companies and other organizations; providing monitoring and oversight services in connection with public and private litigation and government enforcement actions; and representing institutions and individuals in white-collar criminal and regulatory matters.
In 2002, Mr. Bromwich was selected by the Department of Justice and the District of Columbia to serve as the Independent Monitor for the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), focusing on use of force, civil rights integrity, internal misconduct, and training issues. He served in that position until 2008 when MPD was determined to have achieved substantial compliance. In 2007, Mr. Bromwich was selected by the City of Houston to undertake a comprehensive investigation of the Houston Police Department Crime Lab; the investigation was widely praised for identifying serious problems in some of the Crime Lab’s operations and providing recommendations for the Lab’s improvement.
Prior to joining the law firm, Bromwich served as Inspector General for the Department of Justice from 1994 – 1999. As Inspector General, he headed the law enforcement agency principally responsible for conducting criminal and administrative investigations into allegations of corruption and misconduct involving the 120,000 employees of the Department of Justice. He was best known for conducting special investigations into allegations of misconduct, defective procedures and incompetence in the FBI Laboratory; the FBI’s conduct and activities regarding the Aldrich Ames matter; the handling of classified information by the FBI and the Department of Justice in the campaign finance investigation; the alleged deception of a Congressional delegation by high-ranking officials of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; and the Justice Department’s role in the CIA crack cocaine controversy.
Before his appointment as Inspector General, Mr. Bromwich served as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and as Associate Counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel for Iran-Contra. Bromwich was one of three courtroom lawyers for the government in the case of United States v. Oliver L. North. Bromwich’s other responsibilities in that office included supervising a team of prosecutors and law enforcement agents that investigated allegations of criminal misconduct against government officials and private citizens in connection with provision of aid to the Contras in Nicaragua and serving as overall coordinator of the Iran-Contra grand jury.
Bromwich received his law degree from the Harvard Law School in 1980 and a master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government the same year. He received his undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, from Harvard College in 1976.
Several names are floating around as possible successors to departing Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, the department’s No. 2 official who is returning to WilmerHale in February. We welcome any tips or guidance, which you can send us anonymously here.
The candidates we’ve heard mentioned most frequently are:
- Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli.Perrelli is said to work well with Attorney General Eric Holder, and is considered a good manager. The intellectual property specialist is well connected, having served as managing editor of the Harvard Law Review in 1990 under Barack Obama, when Obama was president of the prestigious journal. He was counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno in the Clinton administration, also serving as Deputy Assistant Attorney General over the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division, where he defended the constitutionality of federal laws. Perrelli raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s presidential campaign and previously was managing partner of law firm Jenner & Block’s Washington office. As the number three official at DOJ, he’s overseen the department’s priority initiative to improve law enforcement in Indian Country.MINUSES: No criminal experience.
- Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer.Breuer has the political savvy for the job, having earned his battle stripes as a White House counsel defending President Bill Clinton during his 1998 impeachment in the House for perjury and obstruction of justice related to his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. (Clinton was acquitted by the Senate). Breuer is also from Attorney General Eric Holder’s beloved Queens, N.Y., and worked with Holder at Covington & Burling, where Breuer chaired the white-collar defense and investigations practice. Earlier in his career, he was a prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Breuer won unanimous confirmation from the Senate in April and has been working on a reorganization of the Criminal Division.MINUSES: Breuer’s comment that he wanted a new “rock star” to head the Fraud Section raised some hackles among career prosecutors, who also consider themselves rock stars.
- Civil Division chief Tony West.West was co-chair of Obama’s California finance committee, helping oversee a record haul of $65 million from the state for the presidential campaign. West met Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where he was a John Kerry delegate and Obama gave the electrifying keynote speech that launched his national political career. West is a graduate of Harvard College and Standford Law School, where he was president of the law review. West worked in the Reno Justice Department as a special assistant to Deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann from 1993 to 1994, and helped shepherd the Omnibus Crime Act of 1994. He was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of California from 1994 to 1999. He also served in the office of California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, advising on high-tech crime, identity theft, the Microsoft antitrust litigation, police officer training, civil rights, and police misconduct. In 2001 he became a partner with Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco, and later offered pro-bono representation to the “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh. In April he was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 88 to 4. He’s gotten good marks as a manager over the Civil Division, where’s he’s overseen large recoveries for the government under the False Claims Act.MINUSES: You tell us.
- Former DOJ Inspector General Michael Bromwich.Bromwich is a litigation partner in the Washington office of law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, where he heads the internal investigations, compliance and monitoring practice group. He served as the Justice Department Inspector General from 1994 to 1999, often clashing with the oversight-resistant Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under his tenure, the IG’s office issued a harsh report on substandard practices in the FBI’s crime laboratory. Bromwich this year was one of three candidates recommended to the White House for District of Columbia U.S. Attorney by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D). No nominee for the D.C. job has been announced yet. From 1983 to 1987, Bromwich was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he rose to chief of the Narcotics Unit. He was also an associate counsel in the office of Iran-Contract independent counsel Lawrence Walsh from 1987 to 1989.
MINUSES: Not already part of the DOJ
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Ron Machen, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, is nearing the finish line.
Two people familiar the situation tell Main Justice that the former federal prosecutor had his interview at the Justice Department earlier this week. If all went well, he is virtually guaranteed the nomination for the U.S. Attorney post in the District of Columbia. (For an inside look at the interview process, click here.)
Machen declined to comment.
Machen worked in the Fraud and Public Corruption and Homicide sections of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia from 1997 to 2001. At Wilmer, he has represented a slew of high-profile clients, including Boeing Co., CitiGroup Inc., and Mitchell Wade, the defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing then-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.).
In August, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton submitted a slate of three names to the White House. Nixon Peabody partner Anjali Chaturvedi and Fried Frank partner Michael Bromwich are also among the finalists, though news reports pegged Machen as the early favorite.
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After we broke the news earlier this week of Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s recommendations for U.S. Attorney — she slipped three names to White House in late August — her office issued this news release Wednesday:
In response to speculation about the name of the next U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, the Office of Eleanor Holmes Norton today said that several weeks ago the Congresswoman gave her recommendation to the President, and she understands that the President has made his choice. Norton interviewed several candidates before making her recommendation. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is a presidential position, and the choice and the nomination will be his,” Norton said.
Barack Obama’s choice — or at least the front-runner, according to The Washington Post and The Washington Examiner — is Ron Machen, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and a former federal prosecutor in the District. We’ve written about his candidacy here and here.
According to The Post, Machen was Norton’s first choice. (She also recommended Anjali Chaturvedi, a partner at Nixon Peabody LLP, and Michael Bromwich, a partner Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP.) Sources told the newspaper that Machen is being vetted and will likely be nominated if he passes his background check.
The White House said no decision has been made.
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Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton has recommended three former federal prosecutors – Anjali Chaturvedi, Michael Bromwich and Ron Machen – for U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, according to various people familiar with the process.
We previously reported here that the three lawyers interviewed with Norton, after her 17-member commission narrowed the field of U.S. Attorney applicants. Norton sent her recommendations to the White House in late August, according to one person. The process has been airtight, so bear with us.
Two people told us that Chaturvedi, a partner at Nixon Peabody LLP who specializes in government investigations and complex civil and criminal matters, made the cut. She has a combined 12 years experience as an Assistant U.S. Attorney on both the East and West coasts. She was chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California and deputy chief of the Felony Trial Section in the D.C. office.
Another person familiar with the matter indicated that Bromwich was on the list. A former Justice Department inspector general, Bromwich now heads the internal investigations, compliance and monitoring practice group at at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. Bromwich was an AUSA in the Southern District of New York in the 1980s and later served as associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel for Iran-Contra.
And three people told us Norton recommended Machen, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. Machen worked in the Fraud and Public Corruption and Homicide sections of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia from 1997 to 2001. At Wilmer, he has represented a slew of high-profile clients, including Boeing Co., CitiGroup Inc., and Mitchell Wade, the defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing then-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.).
Absent from the list, apparently, is Channing Phillips, a veteran prosecutor and acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. We could not confirm whether Phillips interviewed with Norton in August, but he enjoys strong support within the office.
Phillips joined the office in 1994 as a line prosecutor. In 2004, he was tapped as principal deputy assistant attorney general, the office’s No. 2. Phillips was also the office’s chief spokesman. He was named acting U.S. attorney in May, after Jeffrey Taylor stepped down for a position at Ernst & Young.
Norton’s recommendations cap the local phase of the selection process, which began in April. Phillips, Chaturvedi and Bromwich declined to comment. Machen could not be reached.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is the largest in the country, with more than 350 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and more than 350 support staff. The office prosecutes federal and local crimes.
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Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s nominating commission has been quietly reviewing applicants for U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia since April, and I’ve reported the names of five who have been interviewed. Yesterday, a person with knowledge of the process told me of a sixth: Fried Frank partner Michael Bromwich, who served as the Justice Department’s inspector general during the Clinton administration. (Bromwich declined to comment.)
Bromwich, who heads the firm’s Internal Investigations, Compliance and Monitoring practice group, brings some heavy credentials to a mix that includes Assistant U.S. Attorney Roy Austin Jr.; Nixon Peabody partner Anjali Chaturvedi, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner Ron Machen; Channing Phillips, the District’s acting U.S. attorney; and Shanlon Wu, of Wheat Wu.
Chaturvedi, Machen, and Wu were all AUSAs in the District. Bromwich was an AUSA in the Southern District of New York in the 1980s and later served as associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel for Iran-Contra. At Fried Frank, Bromwich splits his time between the firm’s New York and D.C. offices, and since 2002, he’s been the independent monitor for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department on use of force issues. Click here for his firm bio.
In late May, the 17-member commission tasked with reviewing candidates for U.S. attorney began interviewing the candidates, one of the final stages before the body makes its recommendations Norton. Still unclear is whether Norton will forward all of the commission’s recommendations to the president or pluck her favorite from the list. Her office has repeatedly declined to say, and my former colleagues at The National Law Journal wrote earlier this year that Norton and the White House could be in a bit of a row over the issue.
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe partner Pauline Schneider, who chairs the commission, could not be immediately reached.