Senator Tom Harkin nominated two very different candidates for the U.S. attorney positions in Iowa. His nominee for the Northern District of Iowa is Stephanie Rose, who has worked in the office she will run for more than a decade. Harkin’s office noted that Rose
“has served as lead counsel in more than 260 criminal felony cases and as associate counsel on over 50 federal cases. She also has argued before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals 34 times. During her tenure as a federal prosecutor she has earned a national reputation within the Department of Justice as one of the nation’s leading prosecutors of illegal Internet pharmacy cases.”
Rose will also be the first woman U.S. attorney in Iowa since Roxanne Conlin served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District from 1977 to 1981. Lynda Waddington has more about Rose at Iowa Independent.
Harkin’s choice for the Southern District is Nick Klinefeldt, who has some background in criminal law but no experience as a federal prosecutor. The Des Moines Register quoted Harkin as saying, “I can tell you right now, the political considerations were not the deciding factor, considering some of the people who did not get it.” (Many well-connected people sought the nomination for the Southern District, including former Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Kevin Techau, former Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Gordon Fischer and Gov. Chet Culver’s director of drug control policy, Gary Kendall, as well as Iowa Assistant Attorney General Donn Stanley and Tom Henderson, chairman of the Polk County Democrats.)
That said, Klinefeldt has a much more “political” resume than Rose. He is both a former Harkin staffer and a former clerk of a judge who is close to Harkin. He has also represented the Iowa Democratic Party and various Democratic candidates. Which is not to say Klinefeldt won’t do an excellent job as U.S. attorney. I doubt he’ll let partisan concerns influence his office, which would be an improvement on the George W. Bush appointee who prosecuted a Democratic state senator in Iowa on very thin evidence.
The White House has not decided yet how it will handle the U.S. attorney appointments, according to the Washington Post. It’s possible that President Obama will leave some Bush appointees in place. However, the president usually goes along with the recommendations of a U.S. senator from the president’s party on these matters. President Bush’s Iowa appointees were recommended by Senator Chuck Grassley, for instance. I would be very surprised if Obama did not nominate both Rose and Klinefeldt.