Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has turned to a former U.S. attorney for Minnesota to take back his old job and run an office that has gone through a rocky couple of years.
On Thursday, she recommended B. Todd Jones be named the next U.S. attorney for Minnesota.
Jones held the position before - from May 1998 through January 2001 - during the Clinton administration. Since 2001 he's been a partner with the law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi.
Klobuchar said Jones is the right person for the job.
"He's a seasoned, highly respected attorney who is fair-minded and has impeccable integrity," she said. "He has a strong record of working productively with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Above all, he's committed to seeing that justice is done under the law and for the people of Minnesota."
Jones will need to be formally nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the full Senate. Traditionally, the president honors the recommendation of the senator from his political party.
Klobuchar served as Hennepin County's top prosecutor while Jones was U.S. attorney. She said they had a good working relationship. "He is a real class act who's not in this for his ego, but to see that justice is done," she said.
Jones said he was honored by the recommendation.
"The U.S. attorney position is important to serve justice and protect the interests of the American people, as well as to help ensure the safety and well-being of Minnesotans," he said.
For more than a year before his promotion to the top job in May 1998, Jones served as the first assistant U.S. attorney, where he was responsible for much of the day-to-day operations of the office. From 1994 to 1997, he was a partner with the Greene Espel law firm.
He served on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1983 to 1989. He is a graduate of Macalester College and the University of Minnesota Law School.
If confirmed, Jones would replace acting U.S. Attorney Frank Magill, an experienced prosecutor who was appointed to the job in January 2008 after his predecessor, Rachel Paulose, left amid a string of management problems. Under Paulose's tenure, three supervisors resigned to return to prosecuting cases, prompting a visit from a high-ranking Justice official.
The office shake-up under Paulose occurred as Congress was investigating allegations that eight U.S. attorneys were fired and replaced by loyalists of President George W. Bush. Paulose was working for the Justice Department in Washington when she was picked to succeed Tom Heffelfinger, who had resigned to return to private practice.
During the congressional investigation, it emerged that some Justice Department officials had considered firing Heffelfinger - raising questions about whether Paulose, at age 32, had enough experience for the job.
Heffelfinger said he was never pressured to leave his post.
In her announcement, Klobuchar noted that Magill had guided the office through a difficult time.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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