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March 15, 2007

Rick White to Replace McKay? That's a Joke -- Right?

Oh brother. It looks like the geniuses in the White House are playing a little game of cutesie, now that they've been caught in a whiplash of lies about their so-called standards for choosing -- and firing -- U.S. attorneys. And Sheriff Dave Reichert, as the Washington politician with the most seniority and experience best hair, is just the guy to help them make it through their long night of the soul.

Rep. Dave Reichert has submitted to the White House the names of three candidates for U.S. attorney for Western Washington.

Interim U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sullivan, former Republican congressman Rick White and Michael Vaska, a corporate attorney, have been recommended as a permanent replacement for John McKay, according to sources close to the process.

Clearly, Sullivan and Vaska have the expertise and experience necessary for the job of  top prosecutor. But White? It's true he has some years as a lawyer under his belt, but savvy in the tech world just doesn't put him in the same league as the others. His one claim to fame during his oh-so-brief stint as a Congressman was foisting the Telecommunications Act on us, something I wouldn't go around bragging about if I was him. So he's the empty shell in the shell game. A distraction at best -- we hope.  If only the Bush administration was as interested in filling Judge John Coughenour's old federal court seat -- the one that's been sitting empty for nearly a year. Just because King George didn't fancy the names put forth by the recommend committee is no reason to deny the citizens of Washington their right to have a fully functioning court in the Western District, is it?

We know Bush demands only one qualification for a job in his administration and that's undying loyalty. He's already throwing AG Gonzales under the bus for not sufficiently covering presidential butt (not that Abu's impending departure is anything to cry over) while grousing about being asked questions in Mexico -- how dare they!-- and feigning total ignorance about the sackings of those much too talkative U.S. attorneys. Like Gonzales, he mimics the line that "mistakes were made" but apparently, the only mistake was a case of really bad P.R., because those prosecutors deserved it for looking past phony allegations of voter fraud and immigration violations in order to indict real criminals like Duke Cunningham who just happened to be... Republicans. This presidentin' is hard bizness.

It's weird, though, that in one short week we are reminded of some of the more odious characters from Washington's recent past, like Rick White and Chris Vance. Who else from the annals of Washington's Republican clique is hiding in the wings? Considering that Doc Hastings, Chris Vance and Tom McCabe -- the B.M.O.C. from the BIAW -- have all been implicated in closely timed episodes (coincidence? I don't think so!) of harassing ousted prosecutor McKay over that tantrum-inducing election result in the governor's race, there must be at least a few other Perry Mason moments in store. I really hope so, because I tend to get bored easily and watching the White House unravel so thoroughly has been great entertainment, especially since Ugly Betty has been in repeats the last three weeks.

The other fun has been watching Democrats locate their long-lost spinal columns. I do heart Pat Leahy, and since he's promised to subpoena every Karl, Kyle and Harriet in his midst, I may have to actually start waking up early so I can catch the fireworks show over on the other coast. Ah well, I can always sleep next year.

Posted by shoephone on March 15, 2007 at 03:14 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink


If I were the talkative former U.S. Attorneys, I might be a little worried about long-term retribution. The bush Family Evil Empire has repeatedly shown that it is capable of anything, and ruining future careers is routine for them. What will become of these U.S. Attorneys now that they have failed to show utter loyalty to the BFEE?

Posted by: Brenda Helverson | Mar 15, 2007 11:17:30 AM

From TPM Muckraker, quoting John McKay, who spoke on KUOW today:
"I think that means the Inspector General of the Justice Department conducting an investigation, separate from the management of the department because it appears that they were involved at the highest level – including the Attorney General. The Inspector General should report, and if that isn’t done appropriately, there should be a special prosecutor."


I think they picked the wrong guy when they picked on McKay.

Posted by: Anne | Mar 15, 2007 1:39:25 PM

I think you're right, Anne. In fact, they picked several wrong people to mess with. My guess is that you don't get to be a U.S. Attorney by being without connections or influence. The thing that's amazed me about this particular scandal is the amount of attention it has gotten from the news and the Congress. Contrast that with Plamegate, the Iran situation, or just about any of the scandals we've seen so far.

Posted by: Cujo359 | Mar 15, 2007 1:48:29 PM

Former U.S. Congressman Richard Alan "Rick" White (R-WA-1st), WSBA # 13683, is one of the top three candidates that U.S. Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA-8th) and King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng are reportedly recommending for President Bush to replace John McKay, who was recently released from service as U.S. Attorney in Western Washington:


Problem is that Rick White is currently ineligible to lawfully serve in this position, and has a rather checkered record as an attorney in the state of Washington.

On August 12, 2003, Rick White was suspended from the practice of law by the Supreme Court of Washington, Disciplinary Case No. 200-031.2. The suspension order was effective on August 19, 2003.

Rick White was not released from this suspension until a subsequent order of the Supreme Court of Washington was entered in this same case nearly three years later on July 25, 2006. However, White was only restored to "Inactive" status, which does not allow him to practice law in the state of Washington.

In order for Rick White to become an "Active" member of the Bar and eligible to practice law again, he would have to apply to the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association for restoration to "Active" status, and demonstrate competence, character, fitness, and completion of all continuing legal education he would have been required to take if he had been an "Active" member all along. Depending upon how long White has been "Inactive" or "Suspended", he could be required to retake the Bar Examination no matter what, or may be asked to do so even if the time periods of inactivity are not met and the WSBA has questions about his competence and proficiency in the law.

Needless to say, it could prove to be extremely embarrassing if Reichert and Maleng have indeed included Rick White on the short list of three finalists for President Bush to choose from in order to fill the vacant position in the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Posted by: Richard Pope | Mar 15, 2007 2:34:34 PM

Cujo, you never know what's going to catch their attention. I can't count how many times in the last six years I found myself thinking, "Okay, *this* will really wake people up - this is it," only to see the ever-more-egregious scandals greeted with little more than a yawn. I'm just glad something finally did the trick.

Posted by: Leslie in CA | Mar 15, 2007 4:06:52 PM

Leslie, I wonder if the testimony that came out in the Libby trial that the Bush administration considered Tim Russert a reliable conduit for the Republican party line has anything to do with the press frenzy over Abu-Gate?

Posted by: op99 | Mar 15, 2007 5:03:45 PM

op, I think the Russert revelations were powerfully embarrassing for the media, but I also think the media is being embarrassed daily by the blogs. When Jay Carney of Time is apologizing to Josh Marshall for being wrong about the story, I think that's huge.

I think it's had some effect, but I think the old dogs of the media - like David Broder - are refusing to do anything different, still convinced they are the go-to, be-all, end-all source of information, and clues about what the people should be thinking. If writers like Broder were beginning to look Jurassic before the Libby trial, they are now looking like bugs preserved in amber.

And remember that the press is so susceptible to the siren song of the bandwagon, and fearful of being left behind.

They are so predictable.

Posted by: Anne | Mar 15, 2007 7:43:41 PM

Richard - thanks for that information. I'm going to look into it further.

I do think White is being used as a distraction since his experience and qualifications pale next to Vaska's and Sullivan's.

Posted by: shoephone | Mar 16, 2007 12:49:54 AM

There is more to this story than the mainstream media has reported. What is missing so far is that the effort to fire McKay was led by Bob Williams, the failed Republican candidate for governor who heads the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF). With the election contested Williams founded Grassroots Washington and the Voter Integrity Project financed by the Building Industry Association of Washington. BIAW’s Executive Vice President Tom McCabe is a former Reagan appointee who ran Congressional Affairs for the Veterans Administration during the 1980’s. McCabe was an early contributor and advisor to Bob Williams and still uses EFF to promote his agenda,

The Voter Integrity Project investigated the 2004 Governor’s election county by county looking for enough evidence of fraud to persuade U. S. Attorney McKay to launch a federal grand jury investigation. Williams and his staff repeatedly called on McKay to investigate the election results a call that he consistently rejected.

William’s talked repeatedly to the White House staff and the Justice Department about McKay and about re-registering all of Washington State Voters. EFF’s other group Grassroots Washington lobbied the legislature for election reform and tried to influence the outcome of a report from the Governor’s task force.

In early January, 2005, Bob Williams appeared at a Republican rally at the State Capitol to protest the election results and “called on the FBI to impound King County’s election records and turn the matter over to a federal grand jury.” Williams also published his efforts on conservative talk radio, spoke to civic organizations including the Downtown Seattle Republican Club on October 17, 2005 and filed a formal complaint with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in 2005 about what he considered McKay's failure to properly oversee the 2004 election.

All this from a man and an organization that is currently in violation of federal law for misusing their 501 (c) 3 non-profit status as a Washington State charity. Federal law expressly forbids them from engaging in political activity of any kind.

On January 12, 2004, The Washington Post reported that national tax activist and political entrepreneur Grover Norquist gave Ken Mehlman, the Bush-Cheney Campaign manager a "master contact list" of Republican grassroots activists from across the country that were ready to support President George W. Bush’s reelection. The gift from Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), to Mehlman listed individuals and organizations that made up the so-called “Center Right Coalition,” a group Norquist described in 2003 as the “Republican base, the Reagan base, the Bush base.”

Within a month, the nonprofit research group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) used the news accounts and records as the basis of a complaint to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Norquist, ATR and Bush-Cheney ’04.

During its investigation, the FEC documented the use of ATR’s Center Right Coalition by the Bush-Cheney Campaign. Documents submitted to the FEC by Norquist outlined “state activities, meetings and leaders.” In Washington State, Bob Williams of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF), and Dan Meade Smith, of the Washington Policy Institute, headed the Coalition. In January 2004, Norquist nominated Williams and Smith to receive the “Reagan Award,” given each year by the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). In nominating both men, Norquist praised them saying, “Dan and Bob have worked hard to keep their Center Right Coalition meetings going for over a year.”

To borrow a phrase from David Brock, author of the Republican Noise Machine, “What we have here, as a criminal investigator might say, is a pattern.” A pattern, document by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, of using conservative non-profits for purely political purposes at taxpayer expense.

The election of 2004 and the firing of U.S Attorney McKay are two examples of how Bob Williams has used EFF to move partisan messages into the media. To the public it appears as if they are seeing and hearing a “fair and balanced” analysis from a credible source when they are actually hearing a Republican message bought and paid for by contributions from conservative foundations, corporations, individuals and interest groups who receive a tax write off for their political contribution to a non profit charity.

While all of this overtly partisan political activity by the tax exempt Evergreen Freedom Foundation may be of concern to readers the most disturbing aspect of their conduct is that this account is only the tip of the iceberg.

Posted by: boone | Mar 16, 2007 6:12:08 AM

Boone, that is very interesting and in-depth information.

One question that occurs to me - I don't see from what you wrote that any of the political activities were undertaken by the EFF, but by other entities like The Voter Integrity Project (were these entities 501 (c) 3's?) or Williams the individual.

If you could clarify those connections, and provide some citations, your comment would make a very good post.

Posted by: op99 | Mar 16, 2007 2:10:21 PM

Boone - thank you. We are checking into some things...

Posted by: shoephone | Mar 16, 2007 8:53:43 PM

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