Three Minn. Federal Prosecutors Accept Demotions
I've been following the curious developments in the U.S. Attorneys office in Minneapolis for a few days, but until today, there was too little available information from which to decide if it was newsworthy.
What was known: U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger resigned in February, 2006. Rachel Paulose, age 34, a former aide to Alberto Gonzales whose last job was serving as senior counsel to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty was immediately named as his successor and made Acting U.S. Attorney. She was confirmed by the Senate in December, 2006 and sworn in in March, 2007, by which time she had already been in the job for a year.
Earlier this week there were rumblings about three career prosecutors in the office submitting resignations. DOJ sent out a mediator. Late yesterday it was announced that the three were remaining with the office, but were accepting demotions from managerial positions to rank and file prosecutors. Another top administrative official, not a prosecutor, also submitted his resignation.
"It's just absolutely extraordinary that these three top managers would voluntarily demote themselves," said one defense attorney knowledgeable about the office. "I mean, it's a rank cut. ... And then it would be a salary cut, too."
A source familiar with the office said Thursday's resignations were more about management style and communication than politics. But they take on added significance because they follow a number of other managers who have voluntarily stepped aside since Paulose took over.
Those who left their management jobs Thursday are First Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marti, who was appointed to the job by Paulose in December; Erika Mozangue, who headed the civil division, and James Lackner, who headed the criminal division. Lackner also served as first assistant from March 2006 until Marti's appointment.
DOJ spins this as a good thing because they will be back prosecuting cases. But, there is a back story and it appears many are grumbling about Rachel Paulose.
Minnesota Campaign Report has some good posts on the resignation of Hefflinger and appointment of Paulose.
And then there's this:
It’s a major shakeup at the offices of new U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose.
Four of her top staff voluntarily demoted themselves Thursday, fed up with Paulose, who, after just months on the job, has earned a reputation for quoting Bible verses and dressing down underlings.
Update: I put this below in the comments but thought I'd add it here. Many are questioning the lavishness of Paulose's swearing in ceremony, calling it more of a coronation. Think Progress has all the details.
I don't think the ceremony is that big a deal. I think the larger issues are whether she was qualified the job, whether the Senators from Minn. were initially bypassed by the White House in naming her (they eventually came around and Norm Coleman went through some extra hoops to get her a hearing saving Bush from using the Patriot Act to avoid Senate confirmation) and how she managed to alienate so many of her managerial staff in so short a time.
What is her agenda? Why was she given the job in the first place? She's the youngest U.S. Attorney in the country and had only three years experience as a prosecutor in the office -- after which she went on to work for Gonzales and McNulty.
And, why did Heffelfinger really leave? His reasons were personal family time and money, but that's what they all say, isn't it?
Update: What a surprise (not.) Ms. Paulose has close ties to the Powerline folks.
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