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Nevada’s new U.S. attorney

Nevada’s federal prosecutors have locked up a lot of bad guys in recent years — gang bangers, child pornographers and white supremacists among them. But no criminal case this decade sent more shock waves and affected as many citizens and institutions as the U.S. attorney’s pursuit of four corrupt Clark County commissioners.

The years-long investigation and prosecution sent Lance Malone, Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, Dario Herrera and Erin Kenny to prison, and sent a warning to ethically challenged politicians and public servants at every level of state government: The Justice Department is minding the store.

The man in charge of that prosecution, Daniel Bogden, was fired at the end of 2006. He and seven other U.S. attorneys were marked by the Bush administration for not pursuing Justice Department priorities. The firings generated a predictable amount of partisan bluster, which ultimately compelled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign.

Democrats, in particular, were quick to complain that there’s no room for such politics in law enforcement, but that argument was made solely to score political points. Every U.S. attorney is appointed, and every U.S. attorney’s office has a finite number of prosecutors, investigators and resources to pursue violators of federal law. With each new administration and new U.S. attorney come different priorities, which most certainly are colored by politics.

Now comes Greg Brower, a former Nevada assemblyman, to replace Mr. Bogden. Nevada’s U.S. senators declared their full support for him at a Wednesday news conference, and their confidence that new Attorney General Michael Mukasey will not follow the same path as Mr. Gonzales.

Mr. Brower comes to the job with solid credentials and the benefit of a Las Vegas upbringing — he’s a 1982 Bonanza High School graduate. After serving in the Assembly from 1998 to 2002, he worked as legislative counsel in the Justice Department, acting as a liaison between members of Congress and U.S. attorneys around the country. Since December 2004, Mr. Brower has been inspector general of the U.S. Government Printing Office, handling internal audits and investigations.

Mr. Brower’s homecoming comes with a huge workload. He declared that national security, violent crimes and child exploitation offenses will continue to be the office’s priorities.

“I am following a great U.S. attorney and look forward to continuing to lead this office in a successful direction,” Mr. Brower said Wednesday.

Much of that success was rooted in the successful corruption prosecutions of the former county commissioners and the strip club owners who bribed them. Unfortunately, Las Vegas will always have a criminal element looking to victimize the law-abiding among us. But there’s no reason Southern Nevada should continue to tolerate the sale of public offices to money-grubbing social climbers.

Make no mistake, if the U.S. attorney’s office does not continue to bring heat — or at least the appearance of heat — on local and state dealings that reek of corruption, it won’t be long before taxpayers are again subjected to dishonest representation.

Whatever marching orders Mr. Brower has received from up high, and whatever independence he retains in mobilizing his troops, combatting public corruption should be one of his most urgent missions.

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