HED: Buchanan still awaiting news on appointment

HED: Buchanan still awaiting news on appointment

By Marty Russell

Daily Journal

There has been little movement in the appointment process for Assistant U.S. Attorney Buck Buchanan since he was chosen as President Clinton’s nominee for the Northern District U.S. attorney post in March.

Sen. Thad Cochran confirmed late last week that he had received the obligatory “blue slip” that is sent to senators when a nomination of one of their constituents has been made.

“We did get notice from the Judiciary Committee that the papers had been received for his nomination to be considered,” Cochran said. “In response, I said I had no objection. I think Buck Buchanan is qualified for the job.”

Buchanan said he had not heard from the Judiciary Committee, which would hold a hearing on his appointment and recommend him to the full Senate for confirmation. A spokesman for the Judiciary Committee said Monday that hearings are scheduled for Thursday on some appointees, but that the names of those involved would not be available until Wednesday.

Buchanan laughed Monday and said it was “probably not likely” that he was one of those scheduled for a hearing this week.

“I haven’t even talked to anyone on the Judiciary Committee to be honest,” he said.

Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott speculated shortly after Buchanan’s nomination that the appointment might get put on hold pending the outcome of the presidential election, saying not many appointments are likely to be made after the first of June.

Lott said last week he had not received any notification from the Judiciary Committee that Buchanan’s nomination papers had been received. Buchanan was scheduled to meet with Lott last Monday, but Buchanan had to cancel the visit because of work and the death of an aunt, he said.

“I hope in the near future to have that meeting,” he said.

Lott has withheld judgment on Buchanan’s appointment saying,”I have not met him, and I don’t know him.”

Buchanan has said he would accept the $116,000-a-year appointment despite the fact that it could be a short one. If Clinton fails to win re-election, the new president would likely appoint a new slate of U.S. attorneys upon taking office in January.

Clinton has delayed appointing a new federal attorney for the northern half of the state until so late in his first term because of the inability of Mississippi Democrats to agree on a recommendation and because of Clinton’s insistence on appointing at least one black to one of the two posts in the state.

The northern district post has been vacant since 1993, when Attorney General Janet Reno called for the resignations of all Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys. Since then, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Al Moreton has served as acting U.S. attorney for the district.

After white attorney and state school board member Brad Pigott was appointed to the post in the southern district, that meant the choice for the northern district had to be black. If he is confirmed, Buchanan would be the first black to hold the northern district post.

Buchanan, 38, has been an assistant U.S. attorney since 1990. Prior to that, he served seven years in the U.S. Army as a prosecutor, defense counselor and civil counselor.

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