Posts Tagged ‘Mary Beth Buchanan’
Thursday, July 1st, 2010

It wasn’t because of controversies about Mary Beth Buchanan. Or Chris Christie. The Department of Justice swears.

New rules that  ensure U.S. Attorneys don’t travel on the taxpayer dime for political purposes are the result of a review process that found the previous guidelines to be confusing, the department said.

Mary Beth Buchanan (Mary Beth Buchanan for Congress)

“The previous policies and procedures were admittedly inconsistent — and the new memo was a result of a comprehensive review of all travel rules and regulations,” Justice Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said in a statement. “Moving forward, this memo will serve as the single set of guidelines for the U.S. Attorney community, and all other guidance will be based off this memo.”

The Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys updates policies and procedures as needed, Schwartz said. “These updated procedures reflect goals of improved transparency and stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” she added.

The new guidelines came to light earlier this week in a story by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the newspaper filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the travel records of Buchanan, the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Those records indicated that Buchanan spent more than half her time on the road, costing taxpayers $450,000.

Appointed during the George W. Bush administration, Buchanan resigned Nov. 16 to run for the Republication nomination for the 4th congressional district in Pennsylvania. She lost that race in May to former Department of Homeland Security official Keith Rothfus.

In New Jersey, a former U.S. Attorney’s travel expenses were an issue in last year’s governor’s race. Incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (D) used a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain travel records for Christie, his Republican opponent. The records showed the prosecutor often exceeded his government allowance and stayed in luxury hotels while serving as the state’s chief federal prosecutor. Christie won the election.

The new travel policy memo, sent to U.S. Attorneys’ offices in February and authored by Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys Director H. Marshall Jarrett, said the revamped procedures will  ensure compliance with travel policies; strengthen internal controls and oversight of U.S. Attorneys’ travel in a user-friendly process; and maintain the integrity and reputation the U.S. Attorney position. The procedures were implemented March 1.

U.S. Attorneys can approve their own travel within their district, but must get approval from the Director of EOUSA or the Deputy Director for Administration and Management if they use premium class travel accommodations or actual subsistence is requested, according to the memo.

When traveling outside of their districts domestically, the U.S. Attorney must notify the Executive Office at least five days in advance of planned departure date. If the travel is being reimbursed by a non-federal source, they must submit their request 10 days in advance and the request will be reviewed by the EOUSA’s General Counsel’s Office. Foreign travel requires authorizations to be submitted 15 days in advance, according to the new regulations.

Under the guidelines, the EOUSA will conduct audits of a sample of each U.S. Attorney’s travel authorizations and vouchers every six months to ensure offices are complying with the regulations.

DOJ rules state that travel conducted by those in higher level positions at Justice Department headquarters has to be authorized by either the Deputy Attorney General or the Associate Attorney General.

The memo is embedded below.

USA Travel

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

David Hickton (Burns, White and Hickton LLC)

David J. Hickton (Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh School of Law) is nominated to be U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. He would replace Mary Beth Buchanan, who resigned to run for the Republication nomination for the 4th congressional district in Pennsylvania, which she lost.  The district’s current acting U.S. Attorney is Robert S. Cessar.

His vitals:

  • Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1955.
  • Attended but did not earn a degree from Exeter University in the United Kingdom.
  • Has been with Burns, White & Hickton LLC in Pittsburgh since 1987. Was a founding and executive member from 1987 to 2008 and became of counsel in 2009.
  • Has been an adjunct professor of law in antitrust at Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh since 1998.
  • Was the founder and principal of  DH Consulting LLC in Pittsburgh from 2008 to 2009.
  • Was an associate attorney focusing on commercial and antitrust litigation at Dickie McCamey & Chilcote PC in Pittsburgh from 1983 to 1987.
  • Clerked for the Honorable U.S. District Court Judge Gustave Diamond in Pittsburgh from 1981 to 1993.
  • Tried approximately 36 cases to trial as sole or chief counsel and approximately 23 as special/associate or supervisory counsel.
  • Was respondent in a petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court which was resolved favorably by denial of the petition in the case U.S. ex reL Mistick Pbt and Mistick Pbt v. Housing Auth. Of the City of Pittsburgh, et al., 186 F.3d 376 (3rd Cir.).

Click here for his full Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire.

UPDATE: On his Senate Judiciary financial disclosure Hickton reported assets valued at $9.8 million, mostly from securities and real estate, and $1.4 million in liabilities, mostly from mortgages, for a net worth of $8.4 million.

On his Office of Government Ethics financial disclosure  Hickton reported that he received $43,000 from Burns, White & Hickton LLC, a $2,400 stipend from Duquesne University and $40,000 in interest payments from a notein 2009 and the first few months of 2010.

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Four former U.S. Attorneys became the Republican party nominees for their respective bids for Congress and the governor’s race while one ex-prosecutor fell short in her congressional bid.

Tim Griffin (Tim Griffin for Congress)

In Arkansas, former Eastern District U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin earned 62 percent of the vote while restaurant owner Scott Wallace won 38 percent, according to the Arkansas Secretary of State. Griffin, a former Bush administration official who was a key figure in the 2006 U.S. Attorney firings scandal, will face state Sen. Joyce Elliott, who won the Democratic primary Tuesday, in the November general election. They are seeking to replace Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder in Arkansas’ 2nd District. Snyder dropped his re-election bid in January, citing family concerns.

Tom Corbett

Three former U.S. Attorneys in Pennsylvania won primaries on Tuesday, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Tom Corbett, who was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania by President George H.W. Bush in 1989 and served until 1993, earned 69 percent of the vote against state Rep. Sam Rohrer, who garnered won 31 percent. Corbett will face Allegheny County executive Dan Onorato, the Democratic primary winner, in the general election to replace current Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), who is term limited.

Pat Meehan (Pat Meehan for Congress)

Pat Meehan, who led the Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2001 to 2008, was unopposed in the Republican primary. He will face state Rep. Bryan Lentz who also ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. Both candidates are hoping to replace Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak, who successfully challenged Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

Tom Marino (Tom Marino for Congress)

Tom Marino, the former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania from 2002 to October 2007, also won a Republican primary Tuesday with 41 percent of the vote. Chiropractor and 2006 state Senate candidate David Madeira garnered 31 of the vote while Snyder County Commissioner Malcolm Derk received 28 percent. Marino will face incumbent Rep. Chris Carney (D), who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Mary Beth Buchanan (Mary Beth Buchanan for Congress)

One former U.S. Attorney lost her primary bid Tuesday. Mary Beth Buchanan, who served as the Western District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney from 2001 until November 2009, earned 33 percent of the vote, but former Department of Homeland Security official Keith Rothfus won 67 percent. Rothfus will face incumbent Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Mary Beth Buchanan (DOJ)

Helped by personal loans, Mary Beth Buchanan’s primary opponent in Pennsylvania’s 4th District House race finished the first quarter with more money than the former federal prosecutor. Buchanan, who served as the Western District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney from 2001 until November 2009, is one of two candidates seeking the GOP nomination.

In the first quarter of 2010, Buchanan raised $68,000 and ended the quarter with $102,000 cash on hand. During that three-month period, she loaned the campaign $50,000.  During the same period, her GOP foe, former Department of Homeland Security official Keith Rothfus, raised almost $85,000 and ended the quarter with $132,000 cash on hand. He loaned the campaign $75,000.

Both candidates hope to challenge Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. In the first quarter of 2010 Altmire raised almost $280,000 and ended the quarter with almost $1.2 million cash on hand.

The primary election will take place May 18.

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Tom Corbett (gov)

Four former U.S. Attorneys have filed to run for office in Pennsylvania. Tuesday marked the deadline for major party candidates to file with the Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s office. The primary elections to decide who will run in the November general elections will take place May 18.

Tom Corbett, who was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania by President George H.W. Bush in 1989 and served until 1993, is one of two candidates vying for the Republican nomination for governor. Current Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) is term limited.

Corbett, who is the current state attorney general, will face state Rep. Sam Rohrer in the Republican primary. On the other side of the political aisle, four candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination: Montgomery County Commissioner and former U.S. Rep. Joe Hoeffel, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, state auditor general and former state Sen. Jack Wagner and state Sen. Anthony Williams.

Several former U.S. Attorneys are running for Congress in Pennsylvania:

Mary Beth Buchanan (Steve Pope)

Mary Beth Buchanan, who served as the Western District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney from 2001 until November 2009, is one of two candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the 4th Congressional District. She will face former Department of Homeland Security official Keith Rothfus in the Republican primary. Both candidates hope to challenge Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Patrick Meehan (doj)

In the 7th Congressional District, Pat Meehan, who led the Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2001 to 2008, is running unopposed in the Republican primary. Three Democrats — attorney Gail Conner, state Rep. Bryan Lentz and political consultant E. Teresa Touey - are looking to win their party’s nomination. The candidates hope to replace Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak, who is challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary.

Tom Marino (Tom Marino for Congress)

Finally, Tom Marino, who was the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania from 2002 to October 2007, is one of three Republicans looking to unseat Rep. Chris Carney (D), who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. The other two Republicans seeking the nomination are chiropractor and 2006 state Senate candidate David Madeira and Snyder County Commissioner Malcolm Derk.

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Mary Beth Buchanan (Steve Pope)

Two weeks into her official congressional campaign, former Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan is on the offensive, defending her actions as a federal prosecutor and threatening a lawsuit against a radio talk show host for repeating “flat-out wrong” information about a case she prosecuted.

Buchanan, who served as the Western District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney from 2001 until November 2009, filed papers on Feb. 4 to seek the GOP nomination for the 4th District seat just north of Pittsburgh that is held by Democrat Jason Altmire. Buchanan and Keith Rothfus are seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Altimire. Rothfus is an attorney and former Department of Homeland Security official.

Cyril Wecht (CyrilWecht.com)

During “The Real Deal with Marty Griffin” on a Pittsburgh radio station on Thursday, host Griffin interviewed Cyril Wecht, Talking Points Memo reports. Wecht, who is a former Allegheny County medical examiner, was prosecuted by Buchanan for alleged corruption. Buchanan’s U.S. Attorney’s office dismissed all charges against the prominent Democratic defendant after a federal judge threw out evidence that he ruled was improperly obtained. Buchanan has received harsh criticism for her unsuccessful prosecution of Wecht, while Wecht’s supporters accused Buchanan of targeting him because of his politics.

Wecht during the radio interview said the case cost $20 million to prosecute. That figure did not sit well with Buchanan, who called into the radio show. After a polite introduction, the conversation very quickly turned curt.

Griffin: Just talked to Cyril Wecht live. On the phone now Mary Beth Buchanan. Good morning Mary Beth.

Buchanan: Good morning Marty.

Griffin: You heard Dr. Wecht. You heard his comments. Uh — (interrupted)

Buchanan: Yeah, you know what, listen Marty. Normally I don’t have the opportunity to listen to your show but this morning I happened to catch it and I’m calling in because you and Cyril were batting around what my qualifications are so I’m here to tell you what they are.

After talking about other issues for a while, the conversation turned confrontational.

Marty Griffin (KDKA Radio)

Buchanan: Let’s also talk about another issue. Let’s talk about that issue. You keep rolling around numbers wildly exaggerated that this case cost $10 million — (interrupted)

Griffin: No, Dr. Wecht said 20 (million) actually.

Buchanan: But you repeat it and that’s just flat-out wrong. And you know, we still have defamation laws in this country. And to the extent that you keep repeating things are flat-out wrong, you’re running afoul. That case could not have cost the government more than $500,000, and that’s on the outside.”

Griffin: So you’re saying you’re going to sue me? “Is that what you’re saying, Mary Beth, because Dr. Wecht and others are suggesting? So you’re gonna run for Congress, and you’re threatening to sue me because we’re suggesting that the case cost $20 million?

Buchanan: I’m saying you have to know what you’re talking about before you start repeating things.

Griffin: So his lawyers are wrong and you’re right? Is that what you’re saying?

Buchanan: That’s right. And I was the U.S. Attorney and I know what it cost. And to the extent that you were misinformed and you’re misinforming your viewers I’m here to correct you.

Griffin then asks Buchanan if she’s willing to provide documents indicating exactly how much the case cost.

Griffin: Are you gonna answer my question?

Buchanan: I am answering your question, if you would shut up and let me talk.

Griffin: Oh, so this is how you’re gonna run? Telling people to shut up and threatening them with lawsuits?

Buchanan: Listen, if you want the facts, I’m here to give them to you. If you hear want to hear yourself talk, then why do you even invite people to come on and be guests?

Griffin: Go ahead, Mary Beth.

Buchanan: Okay, thank you.

Griffin: You sound very defensive to me. It’s a long road, Mary Beth, to run for office. This is just the beginning. This is just your toe in the water. But go ahead.

Click here for the audio of the conversation between Griffin and Buchanan.

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Former Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan this month became the third former U.S. Attorney in Pennsylvania to enter a House race in the state.

Mary Beth Buchanan (Steve Pope)

Buchanan, who served as the Western District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney from 2001 until November 2009, filed papers on Feb. 4 to seek the GOP nomination for the 4th District seat just north of Pittsburgh that is held by Democrat Jason Altmire, The Associated Press reported today.

Elsewhere in the Keystone State, Patrick Meehan, who led the Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2001 to 2008, is seeking the Philadelphia area 7th District seat that is being vacated by Rep. Joe Sestak (D), who is running against Sen. Arlen Specter in the state’s Democratic Senate primary. Tom Marino, who was the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania from 2002 to October 2007, is running for the seat held by Democrat Chris Carney in the 10th District, which includes Scranton. Meehan and Marino also are running as Republicans.

Buchanan will be vying for her party’s nomination at the May 18 primary against three other Republicans, according to the AP. The GOP nominee will then square off against Altmire, who is running for a third term.

Congressional Quarterly rates the district as “likely Democratic” for the 2010 election.

Beaver County GOP Chairman Marty Matthews told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review last month that Buchanan would face an “uphill battle” if she decided to run. The former U.S. Attorney has received harsh criticism for her unsuccessful prosecution of former Allegheny County medical examiner Cyril Wecht.

Her office dismissed all charges against the prominent Democratic defendant after a federal judge threw out evidence that he ruled was improperly obtained. Wecht’s supporters accused Buchanan of targeting him because of his politics.

Former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh asked Attorney General Eric Holder to discipline Buchanan for “vindictively” suggesting at a news conference that Wecht was guilty, but nothing ever came of the request -– at least publicly.

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Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Former Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan will decide within the next couple weeks whether she will seek the Republican nomination for a House seat in Western Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported today.

Mary Beth Buchanan (Steve Pope)

Buchanan, who served as the Western District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney from 2001 until November 2009, told the newspaper that she was “very encouraged” by meetings she had with local Republicans about seeking the 4th District seat just north of Pittsburgh that is held by Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), who is running for a third term.

“The common message I’ve been hearing, consistently, is that most voters feel the current administration is forcing its agenda and programs on people who don’t want them, who don’t feel like paying for them and who are not willing to leave this tax bill for future generations,” Buchanan told the Tribune-Review.

The ex-U.S. Attorney would likely challenge lawyer Keith Rothfus in the Republican primary, according to the newspaper. Congressional Quarterly rates the district as “likely Democratic” for the 2010 election.

Beaver County GOP Chairman Marty Matthews told the Tribune-Review that Buchanan would face an “uphill battle” if she runs. The former U.S. Attorney has received harsh criticism for her unsuccessful prosecution of former Allegheny County medical examiner Cyril Wecht.

Her office dismissed all charges against the prominent Democratic defendant after a federal judge threw out evidence that he ruled was improperly obtained. Wecht’s supporters accused Buchanan of targeting him because of his politics. And former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh asked Attorney General Eric Holder to discipline Buchanan for “vindictively” suggesting at a news conference that Wecht was guilty, but nothing ever came of the request -– at least publicly.

“Personal opinion, I think if there were another candidate who had the recognition that Mary Beth Buchanan has, it would be the better choice,” Matthews told the newspaper. “It’s the Wecht thing, primarily.”

We reported last week that Buchanan also came out on the losing end of an apparent political skirmish over a rescue mission for 53 Haitian orphans. She was trying to organize efforts to help Haitian children stranded in an orphanage destroyed by this month’s earthquake. But Altmire and Gov. Ed Rendell (D) planned their own rescue mission and kept the Bush U.S. Attorney mostly out of the loop.

Two other former U.S. Attorneys from Pennsylvania who served during the administration of George W. Bush have already declared their candidacies for House seats.

Tom Marino, who was the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania from 2002 to October 2007, is running for the seat held by Rep. Chris Carney (D). Patrick Meehan, who led the Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2001 to 2008, is seeking the seat that is being vacated by Rep. Joe Sestak (D), who is running against Sen. Arlen Specter in the state’s Democratic Senate primary.

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

The Republican former U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh, Mary Beth Buchanan, has been thinking of running for Congress. And perhaps it’s cynical to link her ambitions to a heartwarming rescue plan she’s been trying to organize for Haitian children stranded in an orphanage destroyed by last week’s earthquake.

Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) outmanuevered his potential rival by pulling off the humanitarian mission first. (Getty Images)

Except that Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) and Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) — whose House seat Buchanan has been eyeing —  have made the connection for us.

While Buchanan was still planning her mission (and a nice photo op for a future campaign?), the governor and Altmire swooped in and rescued 53 orphans, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. The governor and the Democratic congressman accompanied a group of doctors and others on an airplane to the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince. The politicians and the orphans arrived today at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Mary Beth Buchanan (Steve Pope)

Buchanan, who served as the Western District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney from 2001 until November 2009, had been trying to arrange for a private plane to shuttle the Haitian orphans to the United States. She was also in contact with an immigration lawyer and found a doctor to help care for the children.

Americans Jamie McMurtie Heckman and Alison McMurtie, who lived at the orphanage and hail from Pittsburgh, told The Associated Press that the children had been living in the orphanage’s yard without any food or water after the quake struck the impoverished Caribbean nation last Tuesday.

Buchanan sounded a bit peeved in a statement to the Tribune-Review. ”I had little prior knowledge of the attempted air rescue mission that departed from Pittsburgh today, though I have since been advised that some of the resources aboard the flight were collected through the efforts of myself and others.”

She added: ”Now that it is underway I am hopeful for the best, and continue to pray for the safety of young Jamie and Ali, this group of Haitian orphans and all of the people suffering in Haiti.”

Spokespersons for Rendell and Altmire didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from Main Justice.

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

The former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania is trying to help victims of the 7.0 earthquake that destroyed much of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, this week, The Associated Press reported today.

Mary Beth Buchanan (DOJ)

Mary Beth Buchanan, who served as U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh from 2001 until November 2009, is trying to arrange for a private plane to shuttle Haitian orphans to the United States, according to the AP. She is in contact with an immigration lawyer and has found a doctor to help care for the children, whose orphanage is in Port-Au-Prince, the AP said.

Americans Jamie McMurtie Heckman and Alison McMurtie, who live at the orphanage and hail from Pittsburgh, are trying to obtain emergency relief status for the children to come to the United States, according to the AP. The children have been living in the orphanage’s yard without any food or water since the quake struck the impoverished Caribbean nation on Tuesday, the AP said.

Buchanan did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Main Justice left on her home voicemail.

We reported in October that she is considering a bid for a House seat from Pennsylvania.