President Barack Obama has come under fire for his nomination of Tim Purdon for North Dakota U.S. Attorney, with some critics saying the prominent Democrat received the nomination for his party allegiance rather than his experience, Fox News reported Saturday.
Critics say that Purdon was chosen over more-qualified candidates due to his political connections. Purdon — who was on the executive committee of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party from February 2006 until his resignation earlier this month — has no prosecutorial experience. Read about his full background here.
Bill Brudvik, who had been a candidate for the job, initially criticized Obama for the nomination of Purdon in an interview with the Fargo Forum, but on Saturday he declined comment to Fox News. “I’ve said way too much,” Brudvik told Fox.
Others who were under consideration for the job were Jasper Schneider, a state representative and Fargo attorney; Janice Morley, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Fargo; and Rebecca Thiem, an attorney with Zuger Kirmis & Smith in Bismarck.
Scott Hennen, a conservative commentator in North Dakota, blasted Purdon’s political connections and his background as a criminal defense attorney, Fox News reported.
“Talk about the fox guarding the hen house,” he wrote on his Web site. “Looks like Purdon’s lifetime service to the Democrats — raising mega bucks for big government-loving tax-hiking liberals — is getting rewarded.”
Purdon has the support of his state’s delegation.
Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy, in a statement, called Purdon an “outstanding choice.”
“He is well respected and an example of how dedication, education and hard work pay off. He has a distinguished record and has proven his ability to enforce the law with conviction and courage,” Pomeroy added. “We are confident he will make a fine U.S. attorney, upholding the Constitution and protecting all North Dakotans.”
In a written statement to Fox News, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) also defended Purdon.
“Tim Purdon is a talented attorney with a distinguished legal record. As has been stated previously, Senator Conrad has complete confidence in Mr. Purdon’s ability to enforce the law and serve the people of North Dakota,” Conrad wrote.
If confirmed, Purdon would replace Drew Wrigley, who was the district’s U.S. Attorney from 2001 until Sept. 11, 2009. The district’s current acting U.S. Attorney is Lynn C. Jordheim.
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North Dakota’s Democratic National Committeeman stepped down from his post on Feb. 4 — the same day he was nominated to be his state’s U.S. Attorney, Northdecoder.com, a North Dakota political blog, reported last week.
U.S. Attorney nominee Tim Purdon has received criticism for his strong political ties and his lack of prosecutorial experience. Purdon, a lawyer at Vogel Law Firm in Bismarck, N.D., has donated almost $12,400 to North Dakota Democrats and national politicians and committees since 2000, including $2,300 to President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, we reported last week. Read his full bio here.
“When President Obama said he wanted to restore the independence and dignity of the U.S. attorney’s office, in light of the Alberto Gonzales fiasco, and then appoints a political activist and party fundraiser, it seems a little to me more like ‘politics as usual’ than ‘change we can believe in’,” Bill Brudvik, who had been a candidate for the job, told the Fargo Forum.
Purdon declined to comment to Main Justice. Spokespersons for the DNC as well as North Dakota’s two Democratic senators - Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan - didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
But the North Dakota congressional delegation — which includes Conrad, Dorgan and at large Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) — said in a joint statement last week that Purdon was an “outstanding choice.”
“He is well respected and an example of how dedication, education, and hard work pay off. He has a distinguished record and has proven his ability to enforce the law with conviction and courage,” the congressional delegation said in the statement. “We are confident he will make a fine U.S. Attorney, upholding the Constitution and protecting all North Dakotans.”
It isn’t unusual for U.S. Attorney nominees to be closely involved with party politics before they are tapped and some have had little — if any — prosecutorial experience. Many Obama U.S. Attorney nominees donated to Democrats in 2008 and some played roles on Democratic campaigns. A few were never prosecutors before they became U.S. Attorneys.
Purdon would replace Lynn C. Jordheim, who has been North Dakota’s acting U.S. Attorney since the Sept. 13 resignation of Drew Wrigley. Wrigley, who had been the district’s head prosecutor since November 2001, is now the vice president of the Fargo, N.D.,-based Noridian Administrative Services, which helps businesses with information management and customer service.
Some of the reported candidates for the U.S. Attorney post included:
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Drew Wrigley, who served as North Dakota’s U.S. Attorney from 2001 until September 2009, has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who yesterday announced that he will not seek reelection, The Forum of North Dakota reports. After resigning late last year, Wrigley became the vice president of Fargo-based Noridian Administrative Services, which helps businesses with information management and customer service.
Wrigley on Tuesday said, “I didn’t expect at that time that leaving there would be the last chapter,” The Forum reports. He added that his decision will not be based on the other possible candidates. “I equate the opportunity not with who is or isn’t running, but whether I can make the most difference for the people of North Dakota,” Wrigley said.
In a written statement, Dorgan said, “Although I still have a passion for public service and enjoy my work in the Senate, I have other interests and I have other things outside of public life,” adding there is a possibility of teaching or working on energy policy in the private sector. However, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said Dorgan might be on the short list for a place in President Obama’s cabinet, The Forum reports. Conrad in a statement said, “I have a feeling that this will not be the last of his public service.”
Other possible candidates for the Democratic nomination are Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) and former North Dakota attorney general Heidi Heitkamp, The Forum reports.
In addition, Gov. John Hoeven (R) had been eyeing the seat before Dorgan made his announcement. On Tuesday he said, “We have been looking very seriously at the Senate race for some time. People are well aware of that,” adding “I expect we’ll have an announcement of our intentions within a couple weeks,” The Forum reports.