Commentary: Political 'spoils' system shouldn't claim U.S. Attorney Holding

This editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer.

The Obama administration ought to keep in place U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding, the chief federal prosecutor in the state's eastern district, while his office investigates activities surrounding former Gov. Mike Easley.

There's too much at stake for the Obama White House and Justice Department to follow the usual political tradition of replacing the U.S. attorney for the eastern district. Why? Because that office has prosecuted or negotiated guilty plea agreements for corrupt political officials who went on to serve time in federal prison.

Replacing Holding now would send the wrong message in a state still grappling with the realization that some of its leaders, including former state senator and former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance, former N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Meg Scott Phipps and former N.C. Speaker of the House Jim Black, all Democrats, had broken laws they were sworn to uphold. It might also backfire on Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, who has begun a process to review successors.

This state once prided itself on honest government, but the cases of these leaders and the conviction of Republican officials such as former U.S. Attorney Sam Currin on charges unrelated to public service, have been more than an embarrassment. They have been stark reminders that N.C. officials are not immune to wrongdoing.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.