October 27, 2009

Another Example that Obama DOJ is not Above Playing Politics

This reminder comes courtesy of Bench Memos. Whelan takes issue with Holder's explanation for the delay in appointing U.S. Attorneys. Holder contends that, unlike the Bush Administration, they are looking for the “best people”—“people who are highly qualified, who understand what immense power they will be given as United States attorneys, who understand that they are to enforce the law in an impartial, nonpolitical way.” But what about the facts?
That explanation seems difficult to reconcile with—to cite one example that a reader has brought to my attention—President Obama’s nomination of Nicholas Klinefeldt to be U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa.

Klinefeldt’s professional qualifications hardly render him “highly qualified”: He’s an associate at a Des Moines law firm and all of 35 years old. He’s tried one federal criminal case and three to five small-claims matters.

What is most clearly “highly qualified” about Klinefeldt are his political connections: counsel for the Iowa Democratic Party from fall 2006 to March 2009 (the latter date presumably being the time he applied to become U.S. Attorney); state counsel to the 2008 Obama presidential campaign; and formerly a staff assistant to Senator Tom Harkin and field organizer for one of Harkin’s re-election campaigns. (I’ve drawn this information from this MainJustice.com page (registration required).)

As Whelan notes, some of this is perfectly legitimate and to be expected, but Obama has repeatedly claimed he is going to change the way Washington works, which has been true so far as he meant to make it more politicized.

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