A story in Sunday's News & Observer of Raleigh reported that Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan of Raleigh was moving expeditiously in her responsibilities to recommend to President Obama a replacement for U.S. Attorney George Holding, a holdover from the Bush administration:
"We're definitely working on those right now," Hagan said in an interview (last) Wednesday. "And hopefully within the next few weeks we can go forward."
The newspaper reported that the senator had formed a search committee for the task. Meanwhile Holding has been vigorously investigating former Democrat Sen. John Edwards over potential payments to his mistress from campaign funds, and he's also looking into several allegations against recently departed Democrat Gov. Mike Easley. The N&O continued:
Gary Pearce, a Democratic strategist, said Hagan must tread carefully in a situation without precedent in the state.
"We've never had this kind of run of scandals in North Carolina, and we've never had them occur at this cusp of time, when the parties are changing and the U.S. attorneys are going to change," he said. "It's a sensitive issue, a political hot potato. Does she replace Holding when he's on these cases? Then you look like you are trying to protect Edwards and Easley."
Today brings another dramatic turn of events, in which Hagan has suddenly announced she believes Holding should stay on the job until his investigations are complete. While that may appear on its face to represent a burst of common sense from the senator, there may be another contributing factor: a member of her search committee was spotted at Easley's residence yesterday.
(Hagan's) comments today came a day after the resignation of one member of the three-person screening panel that Hagan established to winnow candidates for the top prosecutors' positions in North Carolina.
Locke Clifford, a criminal defense lawyer from Greensboro, stepped down on Tuesday but did not cite a reason. Hagan said he has not been involved in screening for a replacement of Holding, but was involved in assessing judicial appointments.
The panel had been expecting to interview candidates last week and this one, according to the panel's chairman, Burley Mitchell. Mitchell is a former chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court....
Clifford has not returned calls or made comments. But Clifford's vehicle was spotted at the Easley home on Tuesday.
That sure put Hagan and state Democrats in a bind. Now the investigation will continue unimpeded.
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