Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) told President Obama this week she wants Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney George E. B. Holding to have some role in the North Carolina Eastern District that would allow him to continue overseeing ongoing probes of prominent Democrats.
Holding has served as U.S. Attorney since 2006. He is supervising two high profile investigations of former Gov. Mike Easley and John Edwards, the two-time former Democratic presidential candidate from North Carolina.
The U.S. Attorney is probing Easley on the free use of cars and flights on jets owned by the former governor’s political supporters. Edwards is being investigated on whether he improperly steered money from his campaign or related non-profits to Rielle Hunter, the video-maker with whom he had an affair and a child.
Hagan recommended that Holding remain as U.S. Attorney until the two probes are over. But said she would also support another U.S. Attorney in the office if Holding could still oversee the investigations. The North Carolina senator said she also supported Benjamin David, district attorney for New Hanover and Pender counties; Hampton Dellinger, a partner at Chapel Hill law firm Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson; and Thomas Walker, a partner at Charlotte law firm Alston and Bird.
She said in her letter to Obama:
“As I have previously discussed with the Office of the White House Counsel, it is my belief that the current U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, George Holding, should be allowed to complete the ongoing investigations of public officials in the state. During my conversations with the Office of the White House Counsel, there was an interest expressed by the Counsel’s office to potentially appoint a separate individual to begin handling other matters not related to these investigations.”
Justice Department spokesperson Melissa Schwartz said there can only be one U.S. Attorney in office at a time. But she said there can be a U.S. Attorney and an acting U.S. Attorney when there is a U.S. Attorney recusal.
U.S. Attorneys often recuse themselves from cases to avoid a potential conflict of interest. If an Obama-appointed U.S. Attorney were put in place and the Bush-appointed Holding became an acting U.S. Attorney in charge of the probes, Republicans would be hard pressed to find Democratic improriety in the investigations — Hagan’s apparent goal.
Conservatives could have some doubts about Dellinger if he were confirmed as the next U.S. Attorney. Dellinger was special counsel and deputy attorney general for then-Attorney General Easley.
The full biographies of the Eastern District candidates from Hagen are here:
-Benjamin David currently serves as the district attorney for New Hanover and Pender counties, leading 45 public servants that prosecute over 75,000 cases a year. A graduate of Wake Forest Law, David worked as an associate at Kilpatrick Stockton, LLP prior to election as the Assistant District Attorney in Wilmington in 1999.
-Hampton Dellinger is currently a partner at the law firm of Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson. Dellinger has experience working with local, state, and federal law enforcement and public officials from his rolse as Special Counsel to North Carolina’s attorney general, deputy attorney general and as former Gov. Mike Easley’s chief legal counsel.
-Thomas Walker has been a partner at Alson and Bird, LLP concentrating on complex federal and state government investigations and white-collar defense since 2003. Prior to joining the firm, Walker served as a special counsel to North Carolina Attorney General Ray Cooper from 2001 to 2003. He was also an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Western District for seven years.