Politics & Government

N.C.'s Hagan to Obama: Let probes of Edwards, Easley go on

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., still says that Republican U.S. Attorney George Holding should be allowed to continue his investigations into two prominent Democrats — former U.S. Sen. John Edwards and former Gov. Mike Easley.

But Hagan said Friday that someone else should be appointed to oversee the rest of the office's work. She has given President Obama the names of three individuals, including Easley's former legal counsel, to consider for that role.

She also offered her recommendations for U.S. attorney for the Western District and Charlotte. Her choices:

-- Peter Anderson, a partner at Anderson Terpening.

-- Danny Davis, chief District Court judge for the 30 {+t}{+h} Judicial District.

-- Anne Tompkins, a partner at Alston and Bird, who served in 2004 and 2005 as one of four assistant U.S. attorneys in the initial Iraqi Regime Crimes Liaison Office in Baghdad.

In the Eastern District, Holding has been investigating the use of campaign funds by Edwards, a former presidential hopeful who lives in North Carolina's Orange County. He also is holding a grand jury investigation into Easley and his use of private airplanes, his role in helping his wife, Mary Easley, get a job at N.C. State University and other matters.

"It is my belief that (Holding) ... should be allowed to complete the ongoing investigations of public officials in the state,” Hagan wrote in a letter to Obama on Thursday.

But, she added, the White House counsel had asked her to offer up names for someone to handle all other matters unrelated to the investigations of Edwards and Easley.

N.C. Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer said Hagan appeared to be backing off an earlier pledge to keep Holding on the job.

“You can only have one U.S. attorney,” Fetzer said.

“It would have the perception of the Democrats trying to protect some of their own. She has already correctly perceived that unique problem. … And now she sounds like she's backing away from that.”

Among Hagan's three choices for U.S. attorney for the Eastern District are Hampton Dellinger, who worked as legal counsel for Easley when he was governor. Dellinger unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor last year.

Dellinger gave $1,000 to Obama's presidential campaign last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The others she recommended for the same position are criminal defense attorney Thomas Walker; and Benjamin David, the district attorney for New Hanover and Pender counties.

Hagan offered a flurry of recommendations for state justice positions this week, sending the White House names for U.S. attorney, U.S. district judge and U.S. marshal positions.

New presidents traditionally make appointments to federal judicial positions. Obama would likely make his nominations from among Hagan's recommendations, but they must be confirmed by the full Senate.

Hagan also recommended Ripley Rand – son of state Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, a Fayetteville Democrat – for the role of U.S. attorney for the Middle District, based in Greensboro.

Ripley Rand now serves as a Superior Court judge in Wake County.

Hagan recommended Richard Holden, a former commander of the N.C. Highway Patrol, for U.S. marshal in the state's Eastern District. Holden, who rose through the ranks to lead the agency from 1999 to 2004, was the patrol's first African American commander.