Moving to fill his last U.S. Attorney vacancies across the country, President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated two attorneys to serve in Michigan and Oklahoma.
The president nominated Patrick A. Miles, Jr. to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, and Danny C. Williams, Sr. to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
The districts are the only two U.S. Attorney positions in the country yet to be filled by Obama, who is already nearing the end of his term and campaigning for re-election.
Yesterday evening, the Senate confirmed Gregory K. Davis as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, ending another long-standing vacancy. The White House nominated Davis in June 2011 to fill the Mississippi post after more than two years of searching for a candidate.
Obama has also retained several George W. Bush-era U.S. Attorneys around the country, choosing to keep them in place rather than nominate his own candidate. They are Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago, Rod Rosenstein in Maryland and Jim Letten in New Orleans.
The Tulsa-based Northern District has been hard to fill given Oklahoma’s two conservative Republican senators, Tom Coburn and James Inhofe. As Main Justice reported in 2009, the senators rejected the first candidate floated by the White House for the post, federal prosecutor Susan Brandon, apparently because of her ties to prominent Oklahoma Democrats.
The Grand Rapids-based Western District in Michigan appears to have been empty mostly out of neglect, given that Michigan has two Democratic senators who presumably support the Democratic president’s nominees. Obama previously nominated M. Scott Bowen, Michigan lottery commissioner, for the position in 2010. The Senate did not act on the nomination, and the White House didn’t fight for it. Tired of waiting, Bowen withdrew his name last year.
The two nominees have traditional backgrounds.
Since 2006, Miles has been a partner with Dickinson Wright PLLC. He previously worked at Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett LLP from 1991 to 2006. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Aquinas College in 1988 and his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1991.
Miles, a Democrat, lost a close race for Michigan’s 3rd district congressional seat in 2010. He is also president of the Grand Rapids Black Chamber of Commerce, according to a report in the Grand Rapids Press.
Williams has been a partner at Charney, Buss & Williams since 2003. He previously served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Tulsa Country District Attorney’s Office, in addition to working as an associate at Bodenahimer and Levinsons and Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbinson & Lewis. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Dillard University in 1988 and his law degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1991.
The Oklahoma office hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed leader since 2009. Oklahoma’s Sen. Inhofe has endorsed Williams’ nomination.
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.
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Scott Bowen (Michigan State University, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law) was nominated on July 28 to be the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan. He would replace Donald A. Davis, who became the court-appointed U.S. Attorney in 2008.
- Born in South Bend, Ind., in 1964.
- Has been commissioner of the Michigan Bureau of State Lottery since 2008.
- Served as the director of Office of the State Employer from 2007 to 2008.
- Ran for Michigan attorney general in 2007.
- Served as a Michigan state judge from 2004 to 2005.
- Was a partner at the law firm of McInerney & Bowen in Grand Rapids, Mich., from 2001 to 2003.
- Served as Grand Rapids city commissioner from 1997 to 2003.
- Was a special assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan from 1997 to 2001.
- Was a partner at the law firm of Distel & Haynes P.C. in Grand Rapids from 1994 to 2001.
- Was an associate attorney at the law firm of Clary, Nantz, Wood, Hoffius, Rankin & Cooper from 1990 to 1994.
- Held various jobs at Fox Jewelry Company (Fred Meyer Jewelry) — including sales associated and general counsel — from 1980 to 1989.
- Has tried about 100 cases to verdict, serving as chief counsel in all but one of those cases.
Click here for his full Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire.
On his Office of Government Ethics financial disclosure, Bowen reported making $129,842 salary as commissioner of the Michigan Bureau of State Lottery since January 2009.
UPDATE: On his Senate Judiciary financial disclosure, Bowen reported assets valued at $341,000, mostly from real estate, and $585,100 in liabilities, mostly from financial obligations to relatives, for a net worth of -$244,100.