Obama Nominates Fired Nevada Prosecutor for Old Job
Saturday, August 1, 2009
President Obama on Friday nominated Daniel G. Bogden, whose firing as a federal prosecutor by the Bush administration is under congressional investigation for its potentially partisan motivation, to return to his former job nearly three years after his dismissal.
Bogden's nomination as Nevada U.S. attorney marks a step toward reversing what many Democrats consider the previous administration's illegal firing of nine federal prosecutors in 2006. Congress began investigating the dismissals the next year, and this week Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, concluded two days of closed-door testimony before the House Judiciary Committee about the firings.
"The president believes that Mr. Bogden has demonstrated a strong commitment to serving the people of Nevada and that he will work closely with the leadership of the Department of Justice to follow the facts and the law in the pursuit of justice," said Ben LaBolt, a White House spokesman.
A former Air Force judge advocate general and county prosecutor, Bogden served as U.S. attorney for the District of Nevada from 2001 until he was fired in December 2006. He is currently a partner in a Nevada law firm.
In congressional testimony two years ago, James B. Comey, who served as deputy attorney general in the Bush administration until 2005, called Bogden "straight as a Nevada highway and a fired-up guy."
In his own 2007 congressional testimony, then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said he "didn't have an independent basis or recollection" of why Bogden was fired or how he performed his job.
Although the precise reason for his dismissal remains unclear, many Democrats suspect that Bogden and the other fired prosecutors were dismissed for being politically out of step with a Republican administration.
Internal e-mails later showed that Bush administration officials complained Bogden was not doing enough to prosecute voter fraud, an issue important to Rove. At least one senior Justice Department political appointee also complained that Bogden was insufficiently aggressive in pursuing obscenity cases in Nevada.
Former Gonzales aide Monica Goodling first recommended firing Bogden in January 2006, along with Arizona U.S. attorney Paul K. Charlton. As the firings neared, then-Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty wrote in an e-mail that he was "skittish" about Bogden's removal because of his long tenure with the Justice Department, which dated to 1990.
McNulty said he went along with the decision in part because a Gonzales aide pointed out that Bogden was single and thus did not have a family to support. Later, McNulty told congressional investigators that it "just tipped the scale in my mind as saying, all right, I won't voice an objection."
"Do I regret that to this day?" McNulty continued. "That still weighs heavy on my heart."
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has been a strong supporter of Bogden. The White House often listens to senators when it comes to nominating U.S. attorneys, and the Obama administration listened to Reid's recommendation in this case.
LaBolt noted that Bogden, in addition to being an experienced lawyer and prosecutor, "has the strong support of Majority Leader Reid."
In a statement, Reid said Friday he is "pleased" by Bogden's nomination.
"Dan is a highly qualified and skilled lawyer who served Nevada well before being wrongly removed from office," Reid said. "I look forward to a speedy confirmation."
Also Friday, Obama nominated Deborah K. Gilg as U.S. attorney for the District of Nebraska, Timothy J. Heaphy as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, and Peter F. Neronha as U.S. attorney for the District of Rhode Island.
Staff writer Dan Eggen contributed to this report.