News Releases

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) today wrote to the Chairman and Ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee - Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA).- requesting further information about the apparent political dismissal of John McKay, the former U.S. Attorney from the Western District of Washington state.



"As you know, the Justice Department has stated that it dismissed a number of U.S. Attorneys for "performance-related" reasons, but this given reason does not square with my understanding of Mr. McKay's record of performance. I would like the Justice Department to inform me exactly what it means by "performance-related" reasons and reassure me that Mr. McKay was not dismissed solely on the basis of partisan politics," Murray wrote in her letter.



At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty revealed that seven federal prosecutors had been asked to resign in December for "performance-related" issues. After press accounts confirmed that McKay had been asked to step down but not given a performance-related reason, Murray wrote to Leahy and Specter.



The full text of Senator Murray's letter is attached:



..........................................................




February 7, 2007



Dear Chairman Leahy and Senator Specter:



I am deeply troubled by allegations that the Department of Justice has removed U.S. Attorneys around the nation and engaged in the politicization of this important office. Though I do not sit on the Judiciary Committee, I request to sit in on any briefing the Justice Department may conduct before your Committee related to John McKay, the former U.S. Attorney from the Western District of Washington.



As you know, the Justice Department has stated that it dismissed a number of U.S. Attorneys for "performance-related" reasons, but this given reason does not square with my understanding of Mr. McKay's record of performance. I would like the Justice Department to inform me exactly what it means by "performance-related" reasons and reassure me that Mr. McKay was not dismissed solely on the basis of partisan politics. The U.S. Attorney is the chief federal law enforcement officer for the region in which he serves, and this position is too important to simply be another prize doled out as a political reward. I know that my constituents will not tolerate the politicization of the U.S. Attorney's Office.



I thank the Committee for its work on this important issue. As you may know, I am a cosponsor of the U.S. Attorney Independence Act, and I look forward to working to with you to move this bill forward and correct this unacceptable situation.





Sincerely,

Patty Murray
United States Senator