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April 01, 2007

What Happened to the Rick White Consideration?

It's curious that the major media organizations haven't probed into how Rick White, who's not permitted to practice law in Washington and doesn't have the qualifications required to be a U.S. attorney, ended up on the short list for that position. Dave Reichert, who was chosen to draw up the list of possible replacements for fired prosecutor McKay, put White's name into consideration. Then, just days later, after expressing concerns about the reasons McKay was purported to have been fired, Reichert said he thinks McKay should be given his old job back. Forget the fact that McKay has already said "thanks, but no thanks" to that proposition. Reichert's support for White seems to have evaporated in record time. The day the article about White's little problem of not keeping up with his bar dues was published, I spoke with someone in Reichert's D.C. office who claimed to know nothing about it. And what of King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, who Reichert picked to lead the search committee? His office has refused to publicly address the issue. Two weeks ago, our own Lynn Allen called Dan Donohoe, Maleng's spokesperson, and received a "no comment".

Okay, they're embarassed to have made such a blunder -- and rightly so -- but the nagging question is: how did White's name end up on that list in the first place? How could he have been considered in the same league as Mike Vaska or acting U.S. attorney Jeff Sullivan?

White hasn't been much in the public eye (and as we know, has not been practicing law) since he lost his congressional seat to Jay Inslee. It's not as if he went to work for the Bush Administration, so at least he can say he wasn't just another neophyte being promoted from within. Today's Washington Post reports that the act of rewarding inexperience has become de rigeur where the prosecutors posts are concerned. And the lucky recipients of those jobs are expected to operate without regard for traditional standards of prosecutorial independence, but with total loyalty to Bush.

About one-third of the nearly four dozen U.S. attorney's jobs that have changed hands since President Bush began his second term have been filled by the White House and the Justice Department with trusted administration insiders.

The people chosen as chief federal prosecutors on a temporary or permanent basis since early 2005 include 10 senior aides to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, according to an analysis of government records. Several came from the White House or other government agencies. Some lacked experience as prosecutors or had no connection to the districts in which they were sent to work, the records and biographical information show.

Inexperience seems to be the calling card of many in the Bush Administration. There is, of course, one person in the White House with vast experience and that's Karl Rove. He's well-practiced in the art of nefariousness so it's a fairly sure bet that his fingerprints, if not his DNA, are all over the firings of the USA Eight. In McKay's case, it wasn't only the Attorney General's office that was fielding complaints from people like Bob Williams, Tom McCabe and former GOP chair Chris Vance. McCabe claimed to be communicating directly with someone in the White House, but it's not yet known who it was. (It's also possible that McCabe is blowing hot air, in an effort to burnish his reputation as a mover and shaker in Republican politics). Vance has said he was in frequent contact with Rove's assistant, Glynda Becker, and she has acknowledged that she received numerous calls from Vance and others about McKay and the (phony) voter fraud charges in the governor's race.

So, who is Glynda Becker, anyway? This woman, who was such an important liason between Rove and the disgruntled Washington State GOP, left her job at the White House last year to join a powerful lobbying firm called McBee Strategic Consulting. She has cut her teeth on Republican politics and, for someone so young, has an impressive CV that includes positions high up in the party. Here's the interesting part: before she got to the White House, she worked as a legislative aide.

Prior to joining the Bush Administration, Glynda spent more than seven years on Capitol Hill including as the Legislative Director for Congressman Mark R. Kennedy from Minnesota and on the legislative staffs of former Congressmen George Nethercutt and Rick White from Washington and in the Washington State House of Representatives in Olympia, Washington.

It's also no suprise that Becker has been a recent and reliable contributor to Riechert's and Doc Hastings' campaigns. Obviously, there is nothing inherently suspicious about contributing to campaigns, but since the information is public, candidates always know who's ponying up. Becker grew up as a very politically-minded Washington State Republican so it's entirely understandable that she would end up working for at least a  few Republicans with ties to the national party. Still, since she has an employment history with Rick White, is known to have communicated frequently with many state Republicans about McKay while working for Rove, and has given money to the man tapped to find McKay's replacement, it may inspire more than passing interest that her former boss somehow ended up as a contender for McKay's job. It's particularly interesting because, in White's case, he had no business whatsoever even being considered for that job. So, just for curiosity's sake: who floated White's name?

Posted by shoephone on April 1, 2007 at 01:33 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink



Regular commenter, cujo, has an interesting piece of information that complements your speculations over at his/her blog, Slobber and Spittle:

"Tasia Scolinos, a somewhat important person in the Justice Department, found out that the US Attorneys were going to be fired from Catherine Martin, a White House official. See the third e-mail in the article. Martin apparently learned about it from William Kelley, who is according to Zimbio, the Deputy White House Counsel and Deputy Assistant to the President. According to this chart, put together by Dan Froomkin, he was Deputy Counsel in 2005. (See the second e-mail). Now, this wouldn't be the first time that someone found out something about what was going on in his, or her, organization from someone outside of it, but the fact remains that Martin found out about it before Scolinos, and she found out about it from a deputy counsel. What this implies, but certainly doesn't prove, is that the White House was out in front on this issue. It's certainly not proof, but if I were on a Senate or House panel investigating things, I'd have a few questions for Ms. Martin and Mr. Kelley."


Could be that Karl Rove has been running the government from top to bottom based entirely on what he thinks will be best for the nutty Republican wing in the 2008 elections.

Posted by: Lynn | Apr 1, 2007 7:25:57 AM

Dogged dot connecting, shoephone. And what's up with the other nearly 40 USA replacements since Bush's second term? Were they fired, too? Why are we only talking about 8?

"About one-third of the nearly four dozen U.S. attorney's jobs that have changed hands since President Bush began his second term have been filled by the White House and the Justice Department with trusted administration insiders."

Posted by: op99 | Apr 1, 2007 5:55:46 PM

The Rick White mystery is intriguing, and I suspect, when it is finally solved, it will not bode well for him, or for any of the others who people the line of dots. It isn't going to just go away, either. I think the original questions into the the firings of the 8 USAs are growing branches, and are now just the beginning of what will be a more in-depth look at those who remain, and who have been appointed on an interim basis. I think that has to include who was involved in the recommendations, and why.

It's interesting, isn't it, that the one thing you really did not hear from the administration - or from Gonzales - is how many USA's have taken interim positions; close to 4 dozen is more than half, and that is not an insignificant number. It makes the "loyal Bushie" phrase more meaningful when one considers that there had already been a large number of loyalists and insiders moved into these offices.

Maybe Alberto can hire Jon Lovitz to testify for him on the 17th - Lovitz as "The Liar" character might be more believable.

That the "loyal Bushies" like Gonzales and Rove and their minions - and Bush himself - have systematically ruined departments and agencies that are integral to the functioning of the democracy is something that should be punishable by something severe and significant.

Posted by: Anne | Apr 2, 2007 8:52:12 AM

Excellent digging, Shoephone. Although somehow I think there may have been a different reason that Rick White was recommended for the position. In any event, Rick White is STILL on inactive status with the Washington State Bar Association. (What exactly is he doing for a living these days? Or does he have a lot of savings left still?)

I would note that Rick White applied for the position several months ago. Look at the blog posting by Joel Connelly on February 2, 2007:


The truly amazing thing, the icing on the cake, is that Rick White could have easily taken the Continuing Legal Education Classes that he needed to reinstate his law license. He chose not to, and has still chosen not to.

Posted by: Richard Pope | Apr 7, 2007 1:59:32 AM

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