The Senate on Wednesday confirmed by unanimous consent only one of five U.S. Attorney nominees waiting for consideration by the body in this Congress, returning the rest to the White House.
Christopher Thyer received the Senate’s approval to be the top federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Arkansas. But the Senate sent back to President Barack Obama U.S. Attorney nominees S. Amanda Marshall of Oregon, M. Scott Bowen of the Western District of Michigan, John B. Stevens Jr. of the Eastern District of Texas and Thomas Gray Walker of the Eastern District of North Carolina. Obama must re-nominate the four if he wants the Senate to consider them in the next Congress, which convenes in January.
The Senate has now confirmed 76 U.S. Attorneys.
Here are more details on Thyer and the returned nominees:
- Obama nominated Thyer on Dec. 1 to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. The Senate Judiciary Committee never held a vote on his nomination.
The Eastern District has not had a presidential appointee at the helm since Bud Cummins was ousted during the 2006 U.S. Attorney firing scandal. Rep.-elect Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), a protege of President George W. Bush’s adviser Karl Rove, replaced Cummins in 2006, serving as interim U.S. Attorney until June 2007. Jane Duke has led the U.S. Attorney’s office since Griffin’s departure.
- Obama tapped Marshall for Oregon U.S. Attorney on Nov. 17. But the Senate Judiciary Committee never acted on her nomination.
She is the top lawyer in the Child Advocacy Section of the Oregon Department of Justice. Marshall was slated to replace Interim U.S. Attorney Dwight C. Holton. Bush U.S. Attorney Karin Immergut resigned in July 2009 and later became a state judge.
Read more about Marshall here.
- Obama nominated Bowen on July 28 to be the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan. But the Senate Judiciary Committee never acted on his nomination.
He is the commissioner of the Michigan State Lottery Bureau. Bowen was slated to replace Donald A. Davis, who became Interim U.S. Attorney in 2008.
A Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney hasn’t led the office since Margaret Chiara resigned on March 16, 2007, after being fired in the 2006 U.S. Attorney purge by the Bush administration.Read more about Bowen here.
- Obama tapped Stevens on Feb. 24 to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. But he withdrew from consideration a few months later, and the Senate Judiciary Committee never voted on his nomination.
Stevens told KFDM News in April that he withdrew because “what was in the best interests of me and my family 18 months ago has changed.”
Stevens, a state judge in Texas, had the support of Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, in addition to the Texas House Democrats, who are led by Rep. Lloyd Doggett.
The members of Congress are engaged in a fierce battle over the state’s four U.S. Attorney nominations. Doggett and the Republican senators submitted separate lists of their picks to the White House.
Stevens and Michael McCrum were the only U.S. Attorney candidates who appeared on both lists. McCrum was recommended for the Western District of Texas U.S. Attorney nomination.
Obama never nominated him, and McCrum removed his name from consideration in October.
- Obama nominated Walker on Nov. 30, 2009, to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. But the Senate Judiciary Committee never acted on his nomination.
He is a partner at the law firm of Alston & Bird, LLP in Charlotte, N.C. Walker was slated to replace U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding, whom Bush appointed in 2006.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) held up his nomination over concerns about Walker’s connections to former Gov. Mike Easley (D) and former Sen. John Edwards (D).
The U.S. Attorney’s office investigated Easley for allegedly filing a false campaign financial disclosure. The office terminated its investigation last month after he reached a plea deal.
Edwards is reportedly under investigation by the office for allegedly paying his mistress with campaign money.
Burr said he planned to lift his hold on Walker upon completion of both the probes. Read more about Walker here.