(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - In her role as the Conference Secretary of the Senate Democratic Leadership, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in sending a letter to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez questioning the politicization of the offices of U.S. Attorneys.

The letter comes following a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing held this week to examine the hiring and firing of U.S. Attorneys. It was at that hearing that Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty acknowledged that that the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Arkansas was pushed out in order to install a former aide to Karl Rove without the need for Senate Confirmation.

The letter questions the unprecedented decision of dismissing a well-respected U.S. Attorney in order to reward an inexperienced partisan:

"These questions go to the heart of the public's confidence in the fair administration of justice. Once appointed, U.S. Attorneys, perhaps more than any other public servant, must be above politics and beyond reproach; they must be seen to enforce the rule of law without fear or favor."

Yesterday, following press accounts confirming that the former U.S. Attorney from the Western District of Washington - John McKay - had been asked to step down but not given a performance-related reason, Murray asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to be involved in future briefings. Murray will join Senate Judiciary Committee members for a private briefing by McNulty on Wednesday, February 14th.

Leadership letter to Attorney General Gonzalez

Murray's letter to the Chairman and Ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee - Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA)