We’ve mentioned the strange case of the possible selection of Republican Robert Burns for US Attorney of Utah by Democratic President Barack Obama. Usually, the President selects members of his own party, and usually with the suggestions and advice of members of his party in the state. In Utah’s case, there are few of these.
Utah has one Democratic Congressman: Jim Matheson. He’s Utah’s sole congressional link with the most powerful elected official in America, the President of the United States. But does thePresident call Jim when he wants to make policy or appoint persons in Jim’s home state of Utah?
Rep. Jim Matheson says he doesn’t know why the White House rejected his favorite candidate for U.S. Attorney or why the vetting process dragged on for more than a year.
He also bristled at the news that the White House is considering a Republican for the top federal prosecutor spot in Utah.
The comments mark the first time Matheson has publicly addressed the U.S. Attorney controversy since the White House in early July told David Schwendiman that he would not become the nominee.
Schwendiman, a senior federal litigator with decades of experience, was Matheson’s first choice for the opening and he had been considered the presumptive U.S. Attorney among Utah’s legal and political insiders for nearly a year.
Neither the White House nor Schwendiman will explain what went wrong. And apparently no one has clued Matheson in to what happened either.
“It’s between the White House and Schwendiman,” Matheson said Wednesday.
Matheson did, though, question why it took the White House so long to reach a conclusion.
“I’m frustrated with the time, it seemed like it took forever,” he said.
So much for representing Utah in Washington, D.C.
Schwendiman’s rejection, coupled with the consideration of Burns, is unusual because the White House typically relies on the senior member of Congress from the president’s party to recommend people for open offices. As an example, Matheson recommend his brother, Scott Matheson Jr., a former law school dean, to be a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. President Barack Obama has since nominated Scott Matheson to the post.
Matheson spokeswoman Alyson Heyrend has said the congressman would seek a clarifying conversation with White House officials before submitting another recommendation to determine what they are looking for.
But apparently that isn’t going to happen.
But Jim is going to follow up, right? And make sure that he has a say in picking Utah’s US Attorney, right?
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Matheson said he has no intention of discussing this with the White House: “No. I’m not sure what she’s talking about.”
Ok, then maybe not. So who is the White House calling to get its nominees? While it’s not clear, because the White House isn’t saying, Robert Burns does have connections to Senator Orrin Hatch.
While he continues that process, the White House has moved in another direction, starting to probe the background of Scott Burns, a former deputy drug czar under President George W. Bush and a favorite of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Interesting. Senator Hatch is a 34 year veteran of the Senate and is rumored to be facing the reelection battle of his career in the 2012. What better time to flex his muscle and show his political power on Utah’s behalf then in the two years before the election when voters are actually paying attention?
(Thanks to the Matt Canham and the Salt Lake Tribune)
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