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After former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown‘s disappointing performance leading the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina, lawmakers seem to have declared open season on presidential appointees. The latest to find himself in the cross hairs of Senate Democrats: Timothy Flanigan, the president’s pick for Justice Department deputy attorney general. At a Sept. 29 hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) raised concerns about Flanigan’s lack of prosecutorial experience and compared Flanigan, now a senior lawyer at Tyco International Inc., with the discredited Brown. “I know Mr. Flanigan has had a long history in the service of Republican administrations, as others have. Mr. Brown from FEMA being one that comes to mind,” Leahy said. “That is all well and good, but it doesn’t qualify someone for crucial law enforcement responsibilities.” Flanigan’s supporters take issue with charges that he is a political hack, pointing to his service in the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel during the first Bush administration and his experience as deputy White House counsel in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “The fact that a man may not have been a prosecutor doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand the criminal laws,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) postponed a scheduled vote on Flanigan but rejected a request from committee Dems for a second hearing on the nominee. Instead, Flanigan will meet privately with committee members to discuss concerns about his ties to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his role in setting administration policies on interrogation. Flanigan, who did not return a phone call, defends his relationship with Abramoff. In written responses to the committee, Flanigan said he relied on the reputation of Abramoff’s former firm Greenberg Traurig when he hired the lobbyist in 2003. “When a company engages a firm like Greenberg Traurig, it relies on that firm’s own review of the ethical standards of each of its partners,” Flanigan stated.
Vanessa Blum can be contacted at [email protected].

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