The Obama team is poised to pick Eric Holder to serve as U.S. attorney general.
In 1988, President Reagan nominated Holder to become an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; he served in that capacity for five years. In 1993, President Clinton nominated Holder to serve as the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. Then, from 1997 to 2000, he served as deputy attorney general under Janet Reno. He has since been in private practice as a partner at the law firm Covington and Burling, where he lobbied from 2002 to 2004, mostly on telecom and pharmaceutical issues.
There’s not much out there on Holder’s environmental record. A 1999 Mother Jones article notes that as deputy AG, he authored a 15-page memo encouraging federal prosecutors to crack down on corporate corruption.
“Vigorous enforcement of the criminal laws against corporate wrongdoers, where appropriate, results in great benefits for law enforcement and the public, particularly in the area of white collar crime,” he wrote. But the MoJo piece goes on to accuse the Clinton Justice Department of not “walking the talk — especially in the environmental crimes arena.”
Comparing statistics from a three-year period in the Bush Sr. administration (1989-91) with a similar period in the Clinton administration (1996-98), the magazine notes that there was a decrease of more than 25 percent in prosecutions of environmental crimes, and a nearly 10 percent decline in the conviction rate. The DOJ also passed on investigating 26 percent more cases that came from agencies like the EPA or the Fish & Wildlife Service. Of course, this is an indictment of the Clinton Justice Department rather than Holder in particular.
We’ll have more on Holder in the near future, should he get the official nod.