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December 1, 2021

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Former colleagues hail Bogden’s reappointment

His firing by the Bush administration was improper, they say

Daniel Bogden

Daniel Bogden

In the three years since nine U.S. attorneys were fired by the Bush administration, most have scattered in different professional directions.

Paul Charlton, for instance, joined a top-notch corporate law firm in Phoenix, where he handles criminal defense work and represents Native American tribes in Arizona. H.E. (Bud) Cummins has set up a consulting firm in Little Rock, Ark., and recently helped a St. Louis company sort through complex government regulations.

John McKay is teaching law in Seattle, and David Iglesias of Albuquerque is often off in the Caribbean, where he serves as a Navy captain prosecuting terror captives at the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Then there is Daniel Bogden. He is getting his old job back.

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed his return as the top federal law enforcement officer in Nevada. Once he is sworn in, he will return to his position as U.S. attorney here.

All are members of the so-called Class of 2006 — the top federal prosecutors, most from Western states, whose dismissals ignited a firestorm of controversy both here and in Washington, leading to House and Senate investigations and charges that the White House was playing politics with the federal judicial system.

A number of top Justice Department officials were forced out — and the scandal ultimately cost former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales his job.

But Bogden was different from the others. While his ousted colleagues were obvious political appointees, and subject to political whimsy, Bogden came up through the ranks as a career prosecutor. An independent by political choice, when he was tapped in October 2001 by the new Bush administration to become Nevada’s U.S. attorney, it seemed a capstone to a long career slugging it out as a federal crimebuster.

And though some of the other firings were seen as naked political moves by the White House to fill the slots with new blood, the Bogden ouster never was fully explained or understood, despite the months of hearings, investigations and recriminations that followed.

In fact, when Bogden cleared the door, his top supporter, Sen. John Ensign, complained bitterly to Bush officials and demanded that Bogden “get a fair shake” because he “has done a great job for Nevada.”

Tuesday’s confirmation seemed like sweet revenge, a turnabout at the hands of a new Democratic administration, his top Washington supporter not the Republican Ensign but the Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada.

Harry Reid

Harry Reid

“Dan was fired for refusing to bow to political pressure,” Reid said after Bogden was confirmed. “By reinstating him, the White House is ensuring that this dedicated public servant will continue to keep federal prosecutions in Nevada free from political bias.”

Bogden will replace his successor, Greg Brower, who announced just hours before the Bogden confirmation that he would step down Oct. 10.

The job is a complex one, as Brower revealed: In his less than two-year term, the office grew from 39 to 50 assistant prosecutors handling criminal charges against about 1,100 individuals, he said. Ninety percent of them were convicted through guilty pleas or at trial, and 75 percent of them were sentenced to prison. Another 700 civil cases were brought up, the vast majority of them decided in favor of the government.

Bogden has been working in private practice at a firm specializing in commercial law in Reno. He did not expect his Senate confirmation so soon. But his colleagues from the group of fired prosecutors — many of whom have gone on to greater challenges with no desire to look back — hailed Bogden’s return as a smart and natural fit.

“I think it’s wonderful for Dan and I suppose it’s really true justice to see him back there,” Charlton said. “Really in his heart he is a career prosecutor.”

Would Charlton take back his old job? He answered it this way: “I don’t feel any bitterness or enmity toward anyone. But I did have some great feelings of disappointment with how the Department of Justice was mistreated and its reputation suffered.”

Cummins also would not trade backward. And he remains perplexed why Bogden was ever let go in the first place. “In Dan’s case they were unable to even color up a phony reason for getting rid of him,” he said.

With Bogden soon to be back on the job, Cummins called it “a great end to a kind of sad episode.”

Iglesias returned to his Navy career after he was dismissed, taking a new rank as captain. He parlayed his experience as a top federal prosecutor in New Mexico into a high-profile slot as part of the military team working cases against terror captives at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.

Iglesias said he would not dream of again serving as U.S. attorney, in New Mexico or anywhere else. His Navy job, he said, “was a one-in-a-lifetime shot for me.” But he fully understands Bogden’s desire to come home.

“It’s absolutely appropriate,” Iglesias said. “I’ve talked extensively with my fellow prior prosecutors and we all agree Dan’s firing was the most problematic. He hadn’t done anything to tick off a member of Congress or the administration.”

Even better, Iglesias said, is that when his second term ends, the 53-year-old Bogden “will be very close to being able to retire.”

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