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Politicizing Justice? Obama names DNC member Tim Purdon as a U.S. Attorney

President Obama has named Tim Purdon as the chief federal prosecutor for North Dakota.

As of early Friday morning, the White House transparent appointments website was not displaying the name of the 41-year-old Bismarck trial lawyer as being an Obama appointee.

Democrat attorney, donor and fundraiser Tim Purdon

But the White House released his name on Thursday and the entire North Dakota congressional delegation has already issued a public congratulations on his appointment.

According to the news release from Rep. Earl Pomeroy and Sens. Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad, all Democrats:

“Tim is an outstanding choice for U.S. Attorney. He is well respected and an example of how dedication, education, and hard work pay off.  He has a distinguished record and has proven his ability to enforce the law with conviction and courage,” the Congressional delegation said in a joint statement. 

“We are confident he will make a fine U.S. Attorney, upholding the Constitution and protecting all North Dakotans.”

Purdon is a prominent Democratic donor and fundraiser, a national committeeman and was state chairman for the aborted presidential campaign of John Edwards, another trial lawyer.

In a news release about Purdon and another nominee Obama was quoted as saying he has "no doubt that they will be relentless in their pursuit of justice."

Purdon tells the Bismarck Tribune he's "humbled" by the president's nomination and looks forward to Senate confirmation and starting work as replacement for the acting U.S. Attorney, Lynn Jordheim, who's been serving in the job since September when Drew Wrigley, a Bush appointee, resigned.

According to the Vogel law firm website, Purdon specializes in personal injury lawsuits, criminal defense and class action litigation for the plaintiffs.

A lawyer since 1995, Purdon has no experience as a prosecutor.

Federal Election Commission records, however, show Purdon has donated more than $12,000 in recent years to Obama, Dorgan, Pomeroy and Conrad, among others.

Bill Brudvik, a disappointed candidate for the U.S. Attorney's spot, told the Fargo Forum: "When President Obama said he wanted to restore the independence and dignity of the U.S. attorney’s office, in light of the Alberto Gonzales fiasco, and then appoints a political activist and party fundraiser, it seems a little to me more like ‘politics as usual’ than ‘change we can believe in.’"

To pick Purdon, Obama's Justice Department passed over Asst. U.S. Attorney Janice Morley.

It is, of course, common practice for presidents to name their own supporters to the 93 U.S. Attorney positions around the country, although many do have at least some prosecutorial experience.

When the last president, George W. Bush, tried to replace some U.S. Attorneys, there was such a hue and cry from Congress about a Republican administration "politicizing" the U.S. Justice Department. It was like some Attorneygate. The criticism and denunciations and even congressional hearings continued for some time because it was such a big deal.

Of course, that was when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.. And they still do. So Obama may have stirred up a real political hornets nest and face some very stern -- oh, wait! In 2008 voters added the White House to the control of Democrats.

So, the chances of a Democratic Congress making a stink for a Democratic president over the White House politicizing the Democratic Justice Department by naming a Democratic National Committee member and Democratic donor as a federal prosecutor is right around the temperature in North Dakota this time of year --  absolute zero.


-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Vogel Law Firm   Hat Tip: Scott Hennen

Comments () | Archives (7)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Horrible. This, and Attorney general Eric holder dropping charges against the CONVICTED New Black Panther Party members sickens me.
... and he (Holder, and the rest of the Justice Department, for that matter) still refuses to answer questions about it.

The difference is, President Bush FIRED 9 U.S. Attorneys, President Obama didn't fire anyone. Drew Wrigley quit on his own.

The Justice Department investigation of President Bush found his actions were
"arbitrary," "fundamentally flawed," and "raised doubts about the integrity of Justice Department prosecution decisions."

President Bush's tampering with federal cases by firing U.S. Attorneys is now well established. No one is suggesting President Obama is involved in criminality.

President Obama can appoint who ever he wants, just as President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. You'll recall she had no experience as a judge, never taught law or written about law and had barley seen the inside of a courtroom as a corporate litigator. She had never argued a case before the Supreme Court, yet somehow she was qualified.

Change we can believe in.

Wouldn't the Obama quote be more accurate if it read: "no doubt that they will be relentless in their pursuit of social justice."?

"....aborted presidential campaign of John Edwards" Odd word choice.

Are you telling me that the same DoJ that dropped the Philadelphia voter intimidiation case (that it had already won) against the New Black Panthers is politicizing Justice?

That the same DoJ that stated that political party affiliation MUST be included on ballots, because otherwise Democrats wouldn't know who to vote for is politicizing Justice?

I'm shocked, SHOCKED to find that gambling is going on at Rick's.

Please note that the U.S. Attorney for North Dakota prior to Mr. Purdon, Drew Wrigley, was not even a practicing attorney when he was appointed. He was the executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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