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Holder’s Questionable Track Record on Corruption

Daphne Eviatar calls Eric Holder “a safe choice” for attorney general, and Matt DeLong writes that few would consider him “unqualified.” Well, let me play devil’s advocate and present a more critical view of his record — specifically, his tenure as the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia from 1993 to 1997.

In March 1997, the Washington City Paper published an in-depth profile of Holder and concluded that although popular, he had done little to crack down on one of the city’s biggest problems — widespread public corruption.

Stephanie Mencimer, author of the profile, wrote:

“For all the love Holder has engendered in the community as U.S. Attorney, he has had precious little impact on the city’s endemic municipal corruption. [Ex-convict and Mayor Marion] Barry has returned to his old tricks, nudging contracts and city jobs to old cronies and new girlfriends. Holder is apparently leaving, and he hasn’t thrown a punch.”

Mencimer rattled off a list of investigations into government corruption and fraud on Holder’s watch and lamented, “Not one of these cases has resulted in an indictment so far.”

Mencimer went on to quote city councilwoman Kathy Paterson, who complained, “If [Holder] left tomorrow, I don’t think the D.C. government would be any stronger for his having been there. There comes a time when you have to say, ‘What’s your track record?’”

Today, the City Paper’s Ted Scheinman examines Holder’s record on corruption under the headline “A.G. Appointee Eric Holder Soft on Corruption.” He is right in pointing out that Holder’s role in President Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich deserves some scrutiny, but his headline strikes me as a bit strong. (Scheinman is also my roommate, so I suspect we’ll debate this amply tonight.)

If the reports are correct, we’ll see how all of this plays out in the confirmation hearings.

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