I Thought It Was Illegal To Fire US Attorneys

Birmingham Alabama Mayor Larry Langford is in a bit of hot water. He has been indicted by a Grand Jury on charges that he made some shady deals. He is under a federal indictment for Securities and Exchange irregularities and for some shady county bond deals.

Alice Martin, the US Attorney for the area, has been working on this for some time and those close to the issue say it is not a surprise. The Langford people maintain that he did nothing wrong and that this will all work out. His attorney tried to have the federal case thrown out because he claims that the prosecutor failed to make a connection between payments to Langford by his friends and the millions of dollars in government business. Others involved are Al LaPierre and Bill Blount. The mayor’s chief of staff released this statement:

“As you know, the Mayor was detained this morning by federal authorities. We do not know the details of his detention at this time. City business will go on as usual as we are all here to do a job and we’ll continue to do our jobs to ensure we deliver the best services to the taxpayers of Birmingham. This is certainly no surprise to us — we anticipated something happening soon especially knowing Alice Martin’s days in office are numbered with the swearing in of a new president in late January — just a little over a month from now. We are glad the mayor will finally have his day in court. As members of his team, we stand behind him and look forward to the day when we can return the focus to the important issues before the city.” [emphasis mine] AL.com

I don’t care about the specifics of the case. A crooked politician is nothing new but the guy is black so we will certainly hear cries of racism. What is intriguing is that the mayor’s office is convinced that Alice Martin will be replaced because a new president is taking office. I had always assumed that the US Attorneys served at the pleasure of the president and that he was allowed to fire them whenever he wanted. Bill Clinton fired all of them [and Republicans charged that it was] to get rid of one who was close to indicting one of the Congressional Democrats (Dan Rostenkowski). But it was his prerogative to fire them.

All of this changed when George Bush fired seven or so of them. It does not matter why he fired them because they serve at his pleasure. He can fire them regardless of the reason. He can fire who he wants, when he wants. But the Democrats saw this differently and made a big stink about it.

They held investigations. They smeared the Attorney General. They accused President Bush of breaking the law because he fired them and then the Democrats continued this mantra for political gain. I think the biggest mistake Bush made in the issue was firing only a few. He should have fired all of them and then no one could make a mountain out of the mole hill.

In any event, Barack Obama would be wise to fire all US Attorneys even if he only wants to replace some of them. You see, if he fires Alice Martin and the case against Langford stalls or ends then he will have done what the Democrats accused Bush of. If he fires them all and hires back most of them then he will have played politics as usual and that is not the change he promised.

US Attorneys supposedly serve at the president’s pleasure but the Democrats redefined the entire relationship when they went after President Bush for firing some of them.

I would not be surprised if Obama fires Martin and Langford walks on all charges. A Grand Jury indicted him and it was not after three were convened. The Grand Jury was not badgered into returning an indictment. Both of these were the case with Tom DeLay and not one Democrat was interested in that because their goal was to get rid of him. His indictment, which has (as far as I am aware) never gone to trial was solely for political gain. But all was well with that case because DeLay is a Republican.

Langford is a Democrat a fact that, as best I can tell, is not disclosed in the article. If anyone can find where they mention his party affiliation I would appreciate it being pointed out (it is mentioned in the comments but not the article).

When it is a Republican in trouble the party affiliation is mentioned a number of times. Maybe the article’s writer assumed that we would know Langford is a Democrat because he is black. If I made that connection I would be viewed as racist…

Big Dog

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