Former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton not a viable candidate for governor

Red State Arizona has a good post critiquing E.J. Montini’s article about fired U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton. Although Charlton tells Montini he has no plans to run for higher office, as Napolitano did after she was Arizona’s U.S. Attorney, many have speculated that Charlton may run for governor in 2010. However, being fired by the Bush administration pretty much ruins any chances he may have had. You can picture his opponents’ ads now –

Do you want someone running our state who was fired by the President? Under President Clinton, all 93 U.S. Attorneys were fired. Under President Bush, only a handful were fired – and one of them was Charlton.


Comments

  1. Frank Soto says

    That article by Red State Arizona is a joke. “Clinton fired all 93…” blah blah blah. Are you guys really that ignorant of the fact that ALL presidents replace US Attorney’s when they take office? You do realize that Bush fired all of Clinton’s appointee’s when he took office, right? That’s the way the office works, you know that when you are appointed that is your last position at the USAO. Have you guys actually read any of the senate hearings?

    “Being fired by the Bush administration pretty much ruins any chances he may have had.” Why? Because the Bush administration is the beacon of honesty, and clearly anyone that was fired by them must have been a horrible and dishonest man? Have you any clue of Charlton’s reputation in the legal community, on both sides of the aisle?

    I do agree that he will not leverage this into a Gubernatorial campaign however, that is too far away. If he is to seek office, it will be a congressional seat.

  2. Oh really? Please show me evidence that Bush fired all of Clinton’s appointees when he took office. I seem to have difficulty pulling up a shred of evidence for that on the internet anywhere. You sound like the moveon.org talking points.

  3. Frank Soto says

    This is a joke right Ted? Are you really that ignorant of the US Attorney process? For simplicity sake, I am going to quote a few pages from Wikipedia. You will notice that the current U.S. Attorney’s were appointed in… 2001! And how did they get appointed? The U.S. Attorney’s that are appointed by Clinton are let go (that is the process, and it is understood by everyone that works in the USAO). Here we go (and remember now Ted, this is a sampling that I pulled up in 3 minutes, you don’t seem to have tried very hard):

    Middle District of Alabama: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leura_Garrett_Canary

    Northern District of Alabama: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln/attorney.html

    Alaska: Information about US.A. Cohen not quickly available (might take a couple minutes)

    Arizona: Charlton was appointed in 2001

    Eastern District of Arkansas: Cummins was fired, but originally appointed in (gasp! 2001) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bud_Cummins

    Western District of Arkansas: No info/website, might take a few minutes to learn about Balfe.

    Central district of CA: Yang joined in 2002 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debra_Yang

    Do you get the picture, or do you need me to go through every single office to demonstrate that almost all US.A. are appointed when… Bush took office! There is NOTHING wrong with this, this is how the process works.

  4. Frank "needs to be moderated" Soto says

    Are you serious Ted? You feel you need to moderate me? Because I might demonstrate that you ad hom “talking point” slur was blatantly false? I have never said a bad word on this site. I have disagreed, I have been sarcastic, but never said names, etc. Do you just not want people to see how clearly wrong you are? Don’t worry, it’s late at night, you’ll have plenty of time to delete the comment. This is the saddest thing I have seen this site do however. I actually enjoyed coming here seeing how the comments were generally well though out, and people were allowed to disagree. So much for that big tent after all? In case you decide to delete both of my comments, I am going to paste my original comment below:

    This is a joke right Ted? Are you really that ignorant of the US Attorney process? For simplicity sake, I am going to quote a few pages from Wikipedia. You will notice that the current U.S. Attorney’s were appointed in… 2001! And how did they get appointed? The U.S. Attorney’s that are appointed by Clinton are let go (that is the process, and it is understood by everyone that works in the USAO). Here we go (and remember now Ted, this is a sampling that I pulled up in 3 minutes, you don’t seem to have tried very hard):

    Middle District of Alabama: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leura_Garrett_Canary

    Northern District of Alabama: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln/attorney.html

    Alaska: Information about US.A. Cohen not quickly available (might take a couple minutes)

    Arizona: Charlton was appointed in 2001

    Eastern District of Arkansas: Cummins was fired, but originally appointed in (gasp! 2001) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bud_Cummins

    Western District of Arkansas: No info/website, might take a few minutes to learn about Balfe.

    Central district of CA: Yang joined in 2002 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debra_Yang

    Do you get the picture, or do you need me to go through every single office to demonstrate that almost all US.A. are appointed when… Bush took office! There is NOTHING wrong with this, this is how the process works.

  5. I agree that he isn’t a viable candidate for governor in 2010; let him run for state AG if he wants to move to elected office and do a good job there first (assuming he wins.)

    And, ummm…. “However, being fired by the Bush administration pretty much ruins any chances he may have had. You can picture his opponents’ ads now…”

    Now picture HIS ads –

    ‘Under George Bush, only a handful of US Attorneys were too honest to work for the Bush Administration. One of them was Paul Charlton.’

    Face facts, Ted, these days the highest commendation for an up-and-coming Republican is to be screwed over by the Bushies.

    Note: that may be where the McCain candidacy has gone so horribly off kilter.

  6. Come on, I’m laughing, you really think that line in an ad is going to get the vote of anyone other than hardcore libs?

    ‘Under George Bush, only a handful of US Attorneys were too honest to work for the Bush Administration. One of them was Paul Charlton.’

    Too honest – his entire interview with Montini is all spin! No facts or truth. He avoids discussing the real reasons he was fired, which is disingenuous, preferring instead to talk in lofty generalizations.

    Why would he want to run for AG when according to Montini, he’s doing even better now since the firing “landed him a great job at a big-time law firm.” Put a decent Republican candidate in that race and Charlton won’t stand a chance at even AG. Unless he runs as a Democrat.

  7. Frank Soto says

    Ted:

    First, I think that it is interesting that you chose to have my response post to you “moderated” so that it would not show up on this website. I understand that you don’t like to be wrong, but for a while I really respected that this website supported open discussion of issues. Clearly I was wrong.

    For anyone interested (if this post isn’t deleted before morning anyway), in my original post (maybe Ted will allow it to show up?), I just went through wikipedia/the USAO websites to demonstrate that all of the current US. Attorney’s were appointed in 2001 (unless of course they have been fired since then and replaced). Now Ted, how exactly does that happen if the previous USA’s could have kept their position? If you want to be strict worth word’s they were not “fired,” but then again, neither were the 8 that have been “asked to resign.” It is the tradition of the office of US.A. that the President appoints new Attorney’s when he comes into office, there is nothing wrong with that.

    Your last post intrigues me Ted. What were the “real reasons” he was fired? Since the Senate of the United States doesn’t know, and everyone that was involved was since resigned themselves (besides AG AG), if you could illuminate the rest of the country, that would be great. The “official” reason according to AG AG is because he would not seek the death penalty in a case that was based on circumstantial evidence. A case in which the body that had been murdered was buried in the ground, but the DOJ refused to pay for it to be dug up (it would have cost around 1 mil). This is all in the Senate reports and what AG AG has said.

    Paul Charlton is one of the most respected members of the bar. You should not attack the integrity of a man you clearly know nothing about.

  8. I have nothing to do with moderating comments on this site.

  9. Frank,

    Maybe you erred in your sending your previous post. If it was being moderated because you disagreed with Ted, it surely would have been moderated this time because you disagreed with Ted AND took a swipe at the integrity of the site.

    If this is a veiled attempt to reduce the impact this site has on political debate in this town by claiming it is moderating blogs it doesn’t agree with, take your posting somewhere else because the affirmative defense is that there have been tens of thousands of postings on this site – many strongly opposing the position of those who have the authority to moderate the postings – and this has not happened.

    First of all, the US Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. The biggest mistake that the incompetent AG AG made was giving any other reason than that. He should have never answered any question about the decision to terminate Charlton than the President decided to make a change. By stating the reason was for performance related reasons, it opened up the Pandoras Box into a nuclear explosion.

    The Bush Administration has a rather large file cabinet with a complete section labeled “DUMB” that includes all their dumb decisions, press releases, actions and comments. This is another item filed in that section.

  10. We do apologize when certain comments are delayed. We receive a large amount of spam and have a spam filter. When a serious comment includes several hyperlinks the spam filter puts a hold on it. We try to check the spam filter as often as possible but the recent cutbacks within the blogging industry have taken their toll on customer service.

  11. Frank Soto says

    I understand- I probably shouldn’t post so late at night after working on what should have been a day off :). I apologize for my frustration. I am not trying to reduce the impact, I love how blogs have changed the way us “regular folk” can interface and overcome collective action problems to truly make a difference in local politics. I am not an attack sites/people etc kind of guy, just an attack ideas kind of guy. Sorry for any personal anger I caused you Ted or GOP PK.

    Back to substance:

    I don’t know how to assess the claim that the US.A. serves at the pleasure of the executive yet. Maybe to help you see where I come from on this, I am a “Burkian conservative.” While technically speaking the president can fire anyone he wants within his branch (appointee-wise) this is was a very uncommon occurrence (as I mentioned above, replacing US.A.’s at the beginning of ones term is common, not just Bush/Clinton). The USAO was historically fairly independent from main Justice, and the US.A. usually had a lot of leeway in how they were allowed to run their office. DOJ has always been highly respected by both sides of the aisle because it usually did just what its name implied- seek justice, right and wrong, etc. If you have ever known an AUSA or worked for the USAO, you would know the commitment in the office is to do what is right, not what is political. Is there some politicization at the highest spots? Some, but never to the levels we are now seeing, and that is why I personally think that this is a disgrace.

    The problem I have with articles like what was linked to in this blog piece is that it calls Charlton left-wing and that he sought to seek out his political agenda. All I can say to that is, huh? Here is a man who has been widely regarded in Arizona as one of the most best prosecutors, a man of high intregity and honesty, by BOTH sides. It was not until AG AG came out with his nondescript reasons for firing Charlton that his abilities were EVER questioned.

    I think the Republican party would be losing a great potential candidate if this is the attitude they are going to take towards Charlton. And hopefully no matter who takes office in 2008 Justice can go back to being the ‘fairly neutral’ place it has historically been.

  12. kralmajales says

    I am still amazed that few, if any, came to the defense of what was a hard working, well respected, Arizona Republican, who was clearly fired for political reasons. He did not necessarily follow the political line of the US AG and the President on all occasions, but did on most. He worked hard to fight terrorism and pressed hard to get the information he needed to do this. And there are rumors that he was getting too close to corrupt political friend of Bush, Renzi.

    What astonishes me is that Charlton, an Arizona Republican, was hung out to dry by this administration…and many Arizona Republicans were silent. They were silent because maybe it would look bad if they did not support their President…in whatever he does.

    Charlton has a great record of public service to this state. Look up his bio. He was backed by police, fire, and a host of others in our justice system when he was taken out.

    By the way, two more things:

    The President can fire whomever they want in this office. They generally clean house when a new Presidency comes in and install their own. That is fact and happens with all presidents.

    Fact number two. It is very very rare to replace a sitting US attorney midstream in an administration. Why? Because it gives the appearance of impropriety to be fired when theyr are undertaking investigations at that time. Those who are fired are usually corrupt, not at all what Charlton was fired for.

    Finally, most are not fired because there is deference paid to the Senators of a State that put them up. This is a federalism question, like with judges. The President appoints who Kyl and McCain put up…because they have more knowledge of what Arizona needs than the folks in Washington. Although, late to the game, Kyl has stated that it was wrong to fire him.

  13. GOP PK hits this one on the head. But, I’d like to add one point to the “serve at the pleasure” angle. All of these people resigned. They resigned because they were asked to — and they didn’t think they would get undercut. If they were as principled as they claim to be AND thought they were being moved out for political reasons, they would have forced the President to fire them exposing their plight to a more than willing press corp. Instead one or two of this crew stewed about it then planted the bug to a more than willing press corp.

  14. kralmajales says

    Is anyone here willing to defend Charlton? There is so much talk about how Washington and the RNC monkey around with Arizona politics. This is a prime example.

  15. Charlton donated to Gabby Giffords’ campaign this quarter. Maybe he’ll run as a D?

  16. kralmajales says

    I’m not surprised after the way he was treated by your party in this state…and by the Senators who put him up…not to mention how he was treated by the administration.

    Maybe he will run as a dem.

  17. Frank Soto says

    I’m attempting to defend Charlton.

    I love the “forced to resign” =! “fired” argument from Walter. I think what you might be missing Walter is that it is precisely because these attorney’s were principled that they wanted to avoid making the office MORE political than it had been becoming.

    Charlton is/was a fantastic lawyer, and prosecutor. He did his job very well. Next thing I know you guys are going to be telling me that Fitzgerald is a horrible prosecutor because he doesn’t align with what Bush Co. told him to do.

    Kral is right, we are losing a great potential candidate. If he runs as a dem, I guess I’ll be voting the “other side.”

  18. Red State Arizona misses the main reason why Paul Charlton was asked to resign. Why would Bush, who has been such a failure on illegal immigration, fire Charlton for not prosecuting more illegal immigration cases?

    Paul Charlton was fired because he tried to whitewash election fraud in Maricopa County. Karl Rove gave a speech in 2006 to the National Republican Lawyers Association emphasizing the importance of enforcing election laws, and it’s long been known that Rove has passion about election integrity. Charlton was fired several weeks after he issued a bogus letter defending the Maricopa County Elections Department, even though several laws were violated and hundreds of new votes appeared in a 2004 Republican legislative primary. Among other things, the ballots were not stored in the Treasurer’s vault. It’s documented that Rove complained to Alberto Gonzales about several U.S. Attorneys who did not enforce election laws, and soon after the Justice Department asked for their resignations, including Charlton’s. Others were from Washington and New Mexico.

    Another point is that Charlton is paranoid about his reputation. He’s been working aggressively behind the scenes to fuel the impression he was unfairly fired.

  19. Frank Soto says

    “it’s long been known that Rove has passion about election integrity.”

    -I don’t even know how to respond to that statement. I voted for Bush both times, so I don’t buy the whole “Bush stole the presidency” blah blah blah stuff, but c’mon.

    Maybe you should tell the Senate and AG AG why Charlton was fired, because they both seem to have other reasons for it. You clearly are a man in the know.

    Charlton paranoid about his reputation: Um, well he was just accused of being incompetent, and look at some of the comments on this blog and others about it. It appears that he needs to be paranoid!

  20. Only about half of the U.S. Attorneys removed were fired for not prosecuting election fraud. The Democrats are upset about the set of firings, not so much Charlton’s in particular.

    Since you don’t believe me, look at the Senate testimony on the U.S. Attorney firings. Here’s an excerpt. Sen. Pat Leahy, the Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Committee, asks Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, how David Iglesias, the former U.S. Attorney from New Mexico, ended up on the list of prosecutors to be purged, and Sampson replied,

    “I don’t remember hearing any complaints or anything about Mr. Iglesias’ handling of corruption cases in New Mexico — I do remember learning from, I believe, the attorney general, that he had received a complaint from Karl Rove about U.S. attorneys in 3 jurisdictions, including New Mexico. The substance of the complaint was that they were not pursuing voter fraud complaints aggressively enough.”

    You can find video to the testimony here:

    http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/002916.php

  21. I hate to go back to the obvious. Gonzalez is an idiot for not merely saying the President wanted to make a change and the US Attorneys serve at his pleasure.

    I do not know about his qualification for elected office, but Charlton definitely did not do himself any favors with Republicans who are unhappy with Bush/Rove by contributing to Giffords. Conservatives do not believe you should endorse of financially support a D over an R even if you are unhappy.

  22. Frank Soto says

    Yes James. However, we are talking about Charlton, and there has been no allegations that that is why he was fired. All we know of is his not seeking the death penalty in a specific case. I am sure there is much more than that, but that does not make those reasons valid.

    And yes, AG AG is not the wisest individual 🙂

    I don’t know about that last sentence GOP PK. What if it was Guilliani as a pro-choice/pro-homosexual marriage against a democrat who was pro-life/pro-traditional marriage? You would fund Guilliani just because he has the (R) after his name?

    I know that is not the situation with Giffords, but I don’t think you can make such a blanket statement.

    This is probably the end of the road for me on this thread of comments. We just have a fundamental difference in our brand of conservatism: I am Burkian/traditionalist and you appear to be more neo-conservative in your view of Executive Power. There is nothing wrong than that 🙂

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