President Barack Obama Friday tapped Democratic National Committee member Tim Purdon as North Dakota's next United States Attorney, landing the president in the same political minefield once occupied by Democratic Senator Max Baucus after he nominated his girlfriend for a similar federal post.
A veteran Democratic bundler, Purdon found a unique affinity with trial lawyer John Edwards, on whose campaign he was a state chairman. According to his firm, Purdon specializes in criminal defense and personal injury lawsuits and possesses no prosecutorial experience, for which the White House is making no bones.
It is, after all, within the purview of the President to appoint persons to fill the 93 U.S. Attorney posts, even persons politically aligned with the administration, but most have at least some prosecutorial experience.
While the White House's website did not include Purdon's name among other pending nominations and appointments as of Friday morning, the entire North Dakota Congressional delegation--all Democrats--issued congratulatory statements.
"Tim is an outstanding choice for U.S. Attorney. He is well respected and an example of how dedication,education, and hard work pay off. He has a distinguished record of and proven his ability to enforce the law with conviction and courage," a joint statement read.
What they failed to mention, however, is how hard Purdon had personally worked for each of their campaigns, in varying capacities, but most notably as the North Dakota Democratic Party Treasurer brokering millions in contributions from out-of-state fellow trail attorneys.
Federal Election Commission records indicate that apart from his positions as treasurer for the state Democratic Party and candidate-associated PACs, Purdon personally donated over $12,400 since 2000, including $2,300 to then-Senator Obama's presidential bid.
Bill Brudvik, one of a handful of disappointed contenders for the position, said in an interview with local press that Purdon's Democratic activism and fierce political devotion is reason for concern.
"When President Obama said he wanted to restore the independence and dignity of the U.S. attorney's office, in light of the Alberto Gonzales fiasco and then appoints a political activist and party fundraiser," Budrik, a Democrat himself, said, "it seems a little to me more like 'politics as usual' than 'change we can believe in.'"
While Democrats feverishly decried President George W. Bush for allegedly pressuring the Justice Department to pursue politically-motivated investigations into Democrats, similar Democratic charges of politicizing the legal system today, under a Democratic president, for appointing Democratic fundraisers, are hard to find.