Late Friday the Department

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Late Friday, the Department of Justice announced that the President had used a recess appointment to name a 34-year-old former White House aide to Karl Rove as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Apparently J. Timothy Griffin made his mark as a Republican campaign operative as opposed to, say, as a lawyer. He replaces current USA Bud Cummins.

The move has provoked the ire of Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark):

Normally, the White House requests names of potential replacements for U. S. attorneys and other positions from the state’s senators or congressmen, and then chooses a nominee from among those names. The nominee then must undergo a background check and Senate confirmation — which could be tough for Griffin in the new Democrat-controlled body. Griffin, a longtime behind-the-scenes Republican operative and political strategist, has worked for the Republican National Committee.

. . .

[Pryor spokesman Michael] Teague noted that an interim appointment could keep Griffin at the helm of the top prosecutor’s post in the state’s Eastern District for the two years remaining in Bush’s term.

“This process circumvents a way to find out about his legal background,” Teague said. “We know about his political background, which is unbalanced. If he’s just interim for the next two years, every decision he makes during that time is going to be somewhat suspect.”

The state’s only Republican congressman, John Boozman, said last month that he hadn’t been asked to submit names to replace Cummins.

Go read the whole article. It’s textbook patronage politics. I hope we’re not about to see a flood of recess appointments to get the White House through the rest of the President’s term with minimal advice and consent from the Democratic Senate.

Late Update: As an emailer noted, a recess appointment now may not be effective for the remainder of Bush’s term. More here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.
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