As the nation focuses on the nomination hearings for Elena Kagan, it’s worth noting that there’s another judicial nomination made by Obama that is up for consideration by the Senate that may be at least as controversial if not as high profile.
Here in North Dakota, after a lengthy food fight among state Democrats over who would get the nomination, trial lawyer and Democratic National Committee member Tim Purdon got the nod to become the next US Attorney for the state upon Senate approval.
You read that right.
After all the hullabaloo from Democrats a couple of years back about President George Bush “politicizing the Justice Department” Obama went and nominated a sitting member of the DNC to be a US Attorney. And before he was a member of the DNC, Purdon was a member of the North Dakota Democratic party’s executive committee. He was also a state chairman for both of John Edwards’ political campaigns, and there is little doubt that he is a facilitator behind the millions in out-of-state trial lawyer money that gets dumped into the state party every election cycle.
Now, Purdon’s political background would be objectionable enough given that he’s been appointed to be a non-partisan prosecutor whose job it is, in part, to hold politicians accountable, but wait (to quote the late Billy Mays) there’s more.
The lengthiest (and in this observer’s humble opinion most tortured) answer Purdon gave on his disclosure questionnaire was his response to the question about lobbying. Purdon spent a couple of paragraphs explaining that while he was a registered lobbyist for Vote Hemp, Inc. he wasn’t really, you know, a lobbyist. From Purdon’s response:
I do not normally perform lobbying services as part of my practice. However, in 2007, I
registered with the North Dakota Secretary of State as a lobbyist for Vote Hemp, Inc.
So Purdon’s not normally a lobbyist…except for when he’s a lobbyist.
Now, I seem to remember that Obama said he wasn’t going to appoint lobbyists. And appointing a lobbyist for a hemp advocacy group to a federal law enforcement position seems a bit odd. Plus, there’s the fact that Purdon is a Democratic party boss.
I think most of us reasonably expect federal prosecutors to be unbiased seekers of justice. Not former party bosses and lobbyists.
Senate Judiciary Committee member Orrin Hatch recently told Fargo talk radio host Scott Hennen that Purdon’s background was justification for further review, and indeed that committee held back on approving Purdon at the request of Republicans despite passing on two of Obama’s other US Attorney nominees.
Let’s hope that Purdon gets more scrutiny.