It’s official. The Rocky Mountain News reports that President Bush has nominated Troy Eid, husband of Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid and former counsel to Governor Bill Owens, to be the U.S Attorney for Colorado. His name will now go to the Senate for confirmation.
As I’ve written before, the U.S. Attorney’s job is a political plum. The person nominated almost always has a home Senator as his “rabbi.” In Eid’s case, it was both Senators. Wayne Allard submitted his name, but Sen. Ken Salazar, whose job as Attorney General went to Eid after he became Senator, also backed him.
Here’s a quick primer. The U.S. Attorney is appointed by the President, based on recommendations from the state’s senators. Almost without exception, the appointee is from the President’s political party. When a new President is elected, we get new U.S. Attorneys.
Colorado’s Acting U.S. Attorney since after the 2004 election has been William Leone. He’s done a good job. The U.S. Attorney’s office right now is filled with high-quality, ethical prosecutors — and that’s coming from a defense lawyer. I’m disappointed we are getting another political appointee for the job. The job of a prosecutor is to see that justice is done, impartially. Politics should have nothing to do with it. There are many Republican career prosecutors currently in our U.S. Attorney’s office who are more than up to the job. But without inside political connections, they knew they wouldn’t get the job. Knowing how the game is played, they probably didn’t apply.
Why doesn’t the Rocky Mountain News mention any of this? The Denver Post includes a single reference to the Eid’s wife being a Supreme Court Justice in the last line of a long, glowing article, as if it is of no consequence.
Yet, it was enough of a stumbling block back in January when Eid withdrew his name from consideration, reportedly so as not to interfere with his wife’s appointment. As CBS reported at the time:
His withdrawal, though, also coincides with his wife being up for two judgeships: the 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court. Eid’s appointment to federal prosecutor could be seen as a conflict of interest if his wife, Colorado Solicitor General Allison Eid, is also appointed as a top-level state or federal judge.
At least the Post included the information that Eid has been a partner at Jack Abramoff’s law firm, working in the same fields as Abramoff, since 2003.
Eid, a shareholder at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, practices land use and environmental law, federal Indian law, American Indian tribal law, business negotiations and public law. Jack Abramoff, the Washington lobbyist who recently pleaded guilty to bribery, mail fraud and other charges, previously worked at Greenberg Traurig.
Eid and Abramoff both worked in divisions that represented American Indian tribes. But Eid has said he joined Greenberg Traurig in 2003, about the time Abramoff was being fired.
Should the headline of the Rocky and Post articles have been, “Bush Picks Husband of Supreme Court Justice With Ties to Abramoff Law Firm for U.S Attorney” ? No, but the topic deserved some discussion and analysis.