Yesterday, President Barack Obama nominated Stephanie Finley, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Lafayette, to fill the open U.S. Attorney post for the Western District of Louisiana.
Finley, who has been a federal prosecutor, judge advocate and Lieutenant Colonel in the air force reserve, has spent the last 18 years in federal service. She seems to be perfectly well qualified for the position, which came available after its former occupant, Donald Washington, stepped down to take a position at Jones Walker in Lafayette.
Finley’s nomination, however, is drawing suspicious glances from at least one of Louisiana’s senators. Republican David Vitter has placed holds on several nominations of prospective judicial officials in an effort to force Obama to address the status of the U.S. Attorney from Louisiana’s Eastern District, Jim Letten. Finley is headed for a similar fate.
“I congratulate Ms. Finley on her nomination. But I also again ask the president to directly address the need that Jim Letten continue to serve as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District to continue his vital prosecutions of political corruption,” said Vitter in a statement today. “Both Senator Landrieu and I fully support this, as do Louisianians of all walks of life. Let’s confirm that he’ll be there and move forward with the president’s other nominations.”
Vitter plans on placing a hold on Finley’s blue slip as he has done in the case of Obama nominees Brian Jackson, to a federal judgeship in Baton Rouge, and Genevieve Lynn May, to a U.S. Marshall’s post in New Orleans, until the president formally re-nominates Letten to his post. Both Vitter and Landrieu have asked the president to renominate Letten rather than just leaving him to wonder daily whether someone else will have his office when he shows up to work, and the response has been nonchalant at best.
Landrieu’s rhetoric in response to Vitter’s leveraging tactic has been a little heated. Last week, she told the Times-Picayune “Sen. Vitter’s partisan antics will do nothing but hurt the people of Louisiana who need these positions filled,” in response to his placing a hold on “blue slips” for Jackson and May. Finley, like Jackson and May, was a Landrieu recommendation.