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Burr will hold up U.S. attorney

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr does not plan to return his "blue slip" on U.S. attorney nominee Thomas Walker until the current investigations into two of the state’s most prominent Democrats are completed.

Burr informed President Barack Obama of his decision through the White House counsel’s office, Barb Barrett reports. The decision means that Burr will hold up the selection of a new prosecutor.

Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, wants the current U.S. attorney, George Holding, to complete his probes into former Gov. Mike Easley and two-time presidential candidate John Edwards. Holding was appointed by President George W. Bush.

In a prepared statement, the senator said he supports Walker, a Charlotte lawyer who works for the same legal firm as former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, the husband of former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

Burr said he told Obama his opinions in a letter in July about the nominations; his office has refused to release the letter.

"I believe Thomas Walker, who was nominated by the president to be Mr. Holding’s successor, is well-qualified to serve as U.S. attorney, and I support his nomination," Burr said in his statement.

"It is clear, though, that political contributions made by Mr. Walker to the former North Carolina elected officials currently under investigation represent a conflict of interest, and would potentially require his recusal from those very investigations," Burr continued.

Walker has been a donor to Easley.

Senator Maybe?

Say What?
"Let's leave that one for another day."

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, on whether she intends to hold up President Barack Obama's nomination of a new U.S. attorney. 


Fetzer says Holding should stay

N.C. Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer said President Barack Obama should keep U.S. Attorney George Holding.

Fetzer, in a statement, said that Obama's nomination of Thomas Walker is an example of putting politics first.

"You'd be hard pressed to find someone who had put more corrupt politicians behind bars than Holding has during his years in the U.S. Attorney’s office. Now, when confidence in our elected officials is at an all time low, is not the time to remove him from office — especially since he has current investigations underway involving [former Gov.] Mike Easley and former [U.S. Sen.] John Edwards.

"There are a lot of people who are talking about cleaning up the culture of corruption in North Carolina. Why remove from office the one person who’s actually doing something about it?"

Presidents routinely appoint U.S. attorneys of their own party. Holding's long tenure after Obama's election is unusual and possibly due in part to pleas by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan to allow Holding to continue his investigations.

In 2001, the last time the White House changed parties, then-U.S. Attorney Janice Cole, a Democrat who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, resigned. President George W. Bush appointed Frank Whitney who was later appointed to a federal judgeship. Bush appointed Holding to replace Whitney.

Hagan nominates Rand for Middle District

There is a familiar name in the list of nominees that U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan has submitted to President Barack Obama to be the U.S. attorney for North Carolina's Middle District - Wake County Special Superior Court Judge Ripley Rand.

Rand is the son of state Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, a Fayetteville Democrat.

Hagan has also recommended Lee Farmer, the member-manager for the law offices of R. Lee Farmer, and Susan Taylor, resident Superior Court Judge in District 20A and 20B.

Hagan also submitted three names for the U.S. attorney in the Western District: Peter Anderson, a partner at Anderson Terpening, PLLC; Danny Davis, Chief District Court Judge for the 30th Judicial District; and Anne Tompkins, a partner at Alston and Bird.

Hagan submits names for U.S. attorney

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan wants to keep Republican U.S. Attorney George Holding on, for now, to continue his investigation into former Gov. Mike Easley.

But she submitted names to President Barack Obama for a new person to handle all other, non-Easley-related matters in the Eastern District, reports Barb Barrett.

Among Hagan’s recommendations for the U.S. attorney Eastern District, based in Raleigh, are well-known lawyers Benjamin David, Hampton Dellinger and Thomas Walker, according to a release from Hagan's office.

David is District Attorney for New Hanover and Pender counties. Dellinger, a partner in the law firm of Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, has experience working with local, state and federal law enforcement. Walker, a partner at Alston and Bird, LLP, concentrates on complex federal and state government investigations and white-collar defense.

A newly elected president traditionally appoints new federal prosecutors from his own party based on recommendations from senators. Any nominee must be confirmed by the Senate.

In her letter to Obama about the situation, Hagan wrote:

“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.”

She continued: “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. Should you decide to do so, the following names are provided for your consideration.”

Holding has been investigating Easley’s ties to campaign donors and other prominent North Carolina leaders. Just this week he issued subpoenas seeking records related to the Department of Motor Vehicles under Easley’s watch.



Document(s):
KRH Final Federal Nominations.pdf

Hagan misspoke; no list of judges

Sen. Kay Hagan's office says she misspoke Wednesday when she told reporters that she had forwarded three names to the White House as potential judicial nominations for the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In fact, the senator is in ongoing discussions with White House counsel about several possibilities, said Dave Hoffman, Hagan's spokesman, Barb Barrett reports. So while names have been talked about, there actually is no three-person short list for the appeals court, Hoffman said.

Hagan's statewide advisory panel also has agreed to speak with anyone who has expressed interest in the 4th Circuit, he said.

He said that in late June, Hagan's office will send the White House three-person lists — and make the lists public — for other federal judicial openings for roles such as U.S. District Judge and U.S. attorney.

Those recommendations are what Hagan was thinking of when she misspoke about the appeals court, Hoffman said.

Hagan: Holding should stay

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said today that federal prosecutor George Holding should stay on the job until investigations of former Sen. John Edwards and former Gov. Mike Easley are completed.

She said she has been in talks with the White House and that she wants to eliminate politics from the process of replacing a U.S. Attorney, Andy Curliss reports.

"It is not in North Carolina's best interest to replace" Holding right now, she said.

Holding is overseeing the two high-profile probes that have been the subject of recent news reports.

Her comments come a day after the resignation of one member of a three-person screening panel that Hagan established to winnow candidates for the top prosecutors' positions in North Carolina.

Locke Clifford, a criminal defense lawyer from Greensboro, stepped down on Tuesday but did not cite a reason. Hagan said he has not been involved in screening for a replacement of Holding.

The panel had been expecting to interview candidates last week and this one, according to the panel's chairman, Burley Mitchell. Mitchell is a former chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court and now a lawyer at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice in Raleigh.

Clifford has not returned calls or made comments. But Clifford's vehicle was spotted at the Easley home on Tuesday.

Clifford was replaced with Jim Phillips.

Quick Hits

* Greensboro attorney Locke Clifford suspiciously steps down from a panel advising Sen. Kay Hagan on potential U.S. attorney appointments.

* Senate committee considers rolling back sex ed bill to give parents the option to opt their kids in to comprehensive class instead of opting out.

* N.C. GOP chairman candidate Chad Adams did not like Rob Christensen's Sunday column, demands an apology to former Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

* N.C. State University's chancellor and provost will appear before a grand jury this week, making it clear its probing former Gov. Mike Easley.

GOP: Keep Holding on the job

While Democrats may be counting the days until U.S. Attorney George Holding leaves, the Republicans are urging President Barack Obama to keep him on the job.

Holding, a Republican appointee, has prosecuted a series of Democrats and his office is now investigating allegations involving former Sen. John Edwards and former Gov. Mike Easley, both Democrats, Rob Christensen reports.

"Now is not the right time for a change in leadership at the U.S Attorney's office," said state GOP chair Linda Daves. "George Holding has shown himself to be competent, fair and evenhanded in rooting out and prosecuting corruption in state government."

U.S. attorneys are political patronage appointments that usually change hands when the White House changes parties. Holding, a protege of the late Sen. Jesse Helms, got his job after Bill Clinton left office and George W. Bush came in. (Frank Whitney preceded Holding as U.S attorney under Bush. He's now a federal district judge in Charlotte.)

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan has appointed a panel, headed by former Chief Justice Burley Mitchell, to recommend federal prosecutors for the three districts in North Carolina. Hagan will recommended her choices to Obama.

But the state Republican Party argues that Holding doesn’t just go after Democrats. They note that he also prosecuted such Republicans as former U.S. Attorney Sam Currin and former state Sen. John Carrington.

Quick Hits

* An anti-torture coalition is seeking to disbar Davidson College graduate William J. Haynes II, among others, for Bush-administration memos.

* The anonymous backer of a "Draft Coop" blog tries to determine who he should support now that Attorney General Roy Cooper is out of the Senate race.

* Between opening day and the crossover deadline, 303 Senate bills and 424 House bills passed, including substanial numbers during crossover week itself.

* It will be tricky for Democrats to replace U.S. Attorney George Holding in the middle of an investigation into former Gov. Mike Easley

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