Friday, March 23, 2007

Strib Commentary: Why seven prosecuters and I were fired

David Iglesias, a fired Federal Prosecuter/US Attorney, has a commentary on why his and the other firings occurred.
U.S. attorneys have a long history of being insulated from politics. Although we receive our appointments through the political process (I am a Republican who was recommended by Sen. Pete Domenici), we are expected to be apolitical once we are in office.

I will never forget John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, telling me during the summer of 2001 that politics should play no role during my tenure. I took that message to heart. Little did I know that I could be fired for not being political.

Iglesias talks about the phone calls...

Politics entered my life with two phone calls that I received last fall, just before the November election. One came from Rep. Heather Wilson and the other from Domenici, both Republicans from my state, New Mexico.

Wilson asked me about sealed indictments pertaining to a politically charged corruption case widely reported in the news media involving local Democrats. Her question instantly put me on guard. Prosecutors may not legally talk about indictments, so I was evasive. Shortly after speaking to Wilson, I received a call from Domenici at my home. The senator wanted to know whether I was going to file corruption charges -- the cases Wilson had been asking about -- before November. When I told him that I didn't think so, he said, "I am very sorry to hear that," and the line went dead.

A few weeks after those phone calls, my name was added to a list of U.S. attorneys who would be asked to resign -- even though I had excellent office evaluations, the biggest political corruption prosecutions in New Mexico history, a record number of overall prosecutions and a 95 percent conviction rate. (In one of the documents released this week, I was deemed a "diverse up and comer" in 2004. Two years later I was asked to resign with no reasons given.)

The Senator called this US Attorney at his home, in an obvious attempt to manipulate a Federal Prosecuter, asking about corruption charges.

Anyone else see the irony there?

This scandal is not going away anytime soon.

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