Published February 27, 2010
President Obama is facing sharp criticism for his decision to nominate Tim Purdon as U.S. attorney in North Dakota , a nominee who critics say lacks sufficient experience and owes the nod -- over more-qualified candidates -- to his political connections.
Critics are also pointing to the nomination as evidence of Democratic hypocrisy for accusing the Bush administration, specifically his attorney general, Alberto Gonzalez, of politicizing the Justice Department in the firing of several attorneys.
"When President Obama said he wanted to restore the independence and dignity of the U.S. attorney's office, in light of the Alberto Gonzalez fiasco, then appoints a political activist and party fundraiser, it seems a little to me like 'politics as usual' than 'change we can believe in,'" Bill Brudvik, a candidate for the post, told the Fargo Forum.
Brudvik declined to comment further when reached by FoxNews.com.
"I've said way too much," he said.
Purdon declined to respond to the criticism of his nomination.
"Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to comment on my nomination until my confirmation is complete," Purdon told FoxNews.com
Purdon, a lawyer since 1995 who lacks any prosecutorial experience, has donated more than $12,000 to Democratic causes since 2000, including $2,300 to Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.
He was also state chairman for John Edwards' failed presidential bid.
If Purdon is confirmed by the Senate, he will replace Lynn Jordheim, the acting U.S. attorney since Drew Wrigley resigned in September. But Obama has struggled to get many of his federal nominees past the Senate, where Republicans have delayed confirmation for months, prompting the president to threaten recess appointments earlier this month. The Senate responded by confirming 27 nominees.
When Obama announced his selection of Purdon,, the North Dakota congressional delegation, which includes Sens. Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan and at large Rep. Earl Pomeroy, called Purdon an "outstanding choice."
"He is well respected and an example of how dedication, education and hard work pay off. He has a distinguished record and has proven his ability to enforce the law with conviction and courage," the lawmakers said in a news release. "We are confident he will make a fine U.S. attorney, upholding the Constitution and protecting all North Dakotans."
Purdon said in the news release, "I am humbled by President Obama's nomination and thankful to North Dakota's congressional delegation for their support. I am looking forward to the next step of the process in the Senate."
But critics quickly emerged.
Scott Hennen, a conservative commentator in North Dakota, blasted Purdon's political connections as well as his background as a criminal defense attorney in which he deliberated cases against the same office he would now lead.
"Talk about the fox guarding the hen house," he wrote on his Web site. "Looks like Purdon's lifetime service to the Democrats -- raising mega bucks for big government-loving tax-hiking liberals -- is getting rewarded."
"Never mind the rule of law," he continued. "Never mind other qualified, even historic candidates (Janice Morley would have been North Dakota's first female US attorney and only the second Native American to serve that office in our nation's history) the Delegation has got their man."
Conrad stood by Purdon in the face of the criticism.
"Tim Purdon is a talented attorney with a distinguished legal record," Conrad's office said in a statement to FoxNews.com. "As has been stated previously, Senator Conrad has complete confidence in Mr. Purdon's ability to enforce the law and serve the people of North Dakota."