Dan’s the man

It’s not as if President Bush would ever heed my advice, let alone read it. But Monday’s announced resignation by Attorney General Alberto "American Dream" Gonzales had me thinking of a potential replacement.

Right here in Nevada, Bush could get an honest, independent aide who would stick to the law and Constitution instead of compromising each to serve the president.

Michael Chertoff? The White House would be even crazier to tap the director of Homeland Insecurity to run Justice now that Gonzo will go-go.

No, the Bush administration should look no further than our very own Dan Bogden. He’s got all the necessary credentials. He’s Republican. He’s independent. Knows the law. Ran a district. Put some crooked politicians behind bars. And, last I checked, he was still looking for meaningful work.

Bogden, our former U.S. attorney, would likely sail through confirmation. The only snag would be if his Democrat-controlled hearings delved into more "fact finding" about how he and seven of his colleagues were fired midterm.

We know he’d have Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., in his camp. Ensign has stuck up for Bogden through the firing, the subsequent e-mail "justification" for the firing, the testimony on Capitol Hill and his job search.

Ensign never joined the "liberal" calls for Gonzales to step down from Rep. Jon Porter, Rep. Shelley Berkley and Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada (Porter’s a Republican). But here’s his chance to really help the man he nominated for U.S. attorney. Not only would Bogden get his job back, he’d get a great promotion.

And with all eyes on Ensign to elect Republicans to the Senate next year — he’s chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Commitee — Nevada’s junior senator would easily be able to count up the votes on his side of the aisle. It’s a classic D.C. quid pro quo. You vote for my guy, I’ll raise money to keep our seats.

Reid seemed to write a job description for Bogden on Monday when he commented on Gonzales’ announced resignation.

"Alberto Gonzales was never the right man for this job," the Senate majority leader said. "He lacked independence, he lacked judgment, and he lacked the spine to say no to Karl Rove."

Reid is sometimes happy to put Nevada ahead of partisan politics, so he’d also get his caucus to support Bogden’s confirmation. After all, the investigation into the U.S. attorney firings is still slogging through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

As Reid put it Monday, the "resignation is not the end of the story. Congress must get to the bottom of this mess and follow the facts where they lead — into the White House."

So Reid’s party will get to keep investigating, Ensign’s party will get to right a wrong, and the president will actually get someone who is qualified to do more than hush up a DUI.

What got Bogden fired here is precisely what makes him a great candidate to lead Justice. Back in 2006, while Rove was busy scanning the countryside for congressional Republicans who might need help keeping their seats, it was business as usual for Bogden’s office.

His office indicted Reno radio host Walter "Eddie" Floyd on charges he was selling drugs and laundering the proceeds through his son’s business. Floyd, who also happened to be an unregistered sex offender, was a good friend of then-Secretary of State Dean Heller. A car that had belonged to Heller was seized in the case, just as the Republican was seeking Nevada’s vacant 2nd Congressional District seat.

That district was solid Republican, and didn’t really hit Rove’s radar until later in the year, when Democrat Jill Derby began making unprecedented headway in the rural district.

Rove was more focused initially on defending Porter’s seat in the 3rd Congressional District. So Bogden won no favors when he forwarded a fundraising complaint about Porter from the state Democratic Party to the FBI.

The Heller and Porter campaigns were using political consultant Mike Slanker, a Bush "Pioneer" who now runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee for Ensign.

Bogden’s office then made the mistake of indicting the husband of the former state Republican Party chairwoman. Dr. James Forsythe was eventually exonerated by a jury on charges he distributed human growth hormone that had been smuggled from Israel.

It didn’t help Bogden that Forsythe’s daughter is married to political consultant Steve Wark, who worked to bolster Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign back in 2004 in hopes of delivering Nevada’s Electoral College votes to Bush.

Bogden’s office also initiated the famed G-Sting corruption trial that has resulted in prison sentences for four former Clark County commissioners, three of whom were Democrats.

All this shows that Bogden put law ahead of party, and the protection of the public interest ahead of partisan politics.

That’s just what the Justice Department needs these days as it tries to root out terrorists without destroying our civil liberties.

Bogden’s got that credibility. And his worst day as U.S. attorney just makes him more qualified for what would be the best day of his life — a nomination to the office of attorney general.

 

Erin Neff’s column runs Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached at (702) 387-2906, or by e-mail at eneff@reviewjournal.com.

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