Brownlee resigning.

John Brownlee, U.S. attorney for the western district of Virginia, is resigning, effective one month from today. Either he’s in trouble for something or he’s running for a higher office. The fact that this doesn’t take effect for a month tells me it’s probably the latter.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

11 replies on “Brownlee resigning.”

  1. If he gets even modest donor support, I can easily see Brownlee taking the AG nomination from Cuccinelli. This kind of thing forbodes against KC; he’d be on the wrong side of the who’s-the-tougher-Republican debate:

    Meanwhile Brownlee has a nice victory story in his settlement against the Oxycontin makers – the kind of accessible story that can be spun to semiconservative NoVa voters pretty well.

  2. Well, his tenure is almost certainly over come January

    Wha?!?! Are you suggesting that a Democrat in the White House would fire GOP-appointed U.S. Attorneys and replace them with loyal Democrats? The MSM has led us to believe that only Republicans do that. I’m shocked!

  3. Actually, there’s no reason to suspect that was his suggestion. They’re appointed by the president for four-year terms, which means that each president gets to reappoint an entire slate of U.S. attorneys. The Bush scandal was for firing attorneys (rather than failing to reappoint them) for failing to bring charges against Democratic politicians (rather than their political affiliations). It’s the president’s prerogative to make appointments based on party affiliation.

  4. Who said anything about Democrats, Pub? That’s a fine sense of confidence you have in your candidate.

    As Waldo notes, US Attorney appointments are for four year terms – Brownlee’s 2001 appt runs out next year (October, technically). And even if that wasn’t the case, it wouldn’t change things. I know it’s pointless to try and reason with your purposeful ignorance, I’d point out that every Administration – Republican or Democrat, fills every appointed office with its own people when it comes to power. There are very few holdovers. If McCain wins in November, you can expect that 95% of US Attorneys (all same-party appointees, natch) will be replaced in the following year. You can pretend that there’s no distinction between this and Bush’s actions, but . . . well, I guess one more delusion won’t make a difference.

  5. They’re appointed by the president for four-year terms

    No, there is no such thing as a “term” for U.S. Attorneys. They serve at the pleasure of the president, and can be replaced at any time. It’s most common that they resign after elections to make it convenient for the incoming president, but presidents can (and have before GWB) dismiss them whenever they wish.

  6. No, there is no such thing as a “term” for U.S. Attorneys.

    Sure there is. It’s spelled out explicitly in 28 U.S.C. § 541(b):

    (a) The President shall appoint, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, a United States attorney for each judicial district.
    (b) Each United States attorney shall be appointed for a term of four years. On the expiration of his term, a United States attorney shall continue to perform the duties of his office until his successor is appointed and qualifies.

  7. Yes, that statutory term still exists, and it’s utterly meaningless. Section (b) contradicts itself. The four-year term simply doesn’t exist. A U.S. Attorney serves until he or she is replaced. If the president wants them to continue, they will simply not appoint a successor. If the president wants them replaced, the president can replace the U.S. Atty at any time.

    The four-year term in the code gives some semblance of order to the process, but it’s a mistake to think of it in any way similar to the terms that elected officials serve. Completely different animal. Bottom line – they serve at the pleasure of the president.

  8. What is the back story on Brownlee and his lack of support from Warner and Webb for the Federal judgeships he coveted? I know his pursuit of the D-Day memorial director was seen as obsessive in the face of no criminal intent, and he hounded Dr. Cecil Knox through endless prosecution. Is this guy a pair of pliers short of a toolset?

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