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Anyone who follows politics knows that the Senate confirmation process can be grueling. In October, Timothy Flanigan — nominated five months earlier by President George Bush for deputy attorney general — decided that the ordeal was too much. Flanigan, the senior in-house lawyer for corporate and international law at Tyco International Ltd., withdrew his name from contention just two weeks before the Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote on whether he should fill the number two post at the U.S. Department of Justice. The intense scrutiny that followed his nomination took a toll not only on Flanigan and his family, he says, but also on his company. While no one at Tyco asked him to abandon the nomination, Flanigan says he felt the uncertainty of the confirmation process was interfering with his work. “It was becoming a problem for me in that I had a job to do,” he says. Flanigan came under fire, mostly from Senate Democrats, for a variety of reasons. He faced questions about whether, during an earlier stint as deputy White House counsel, he participated in developing the Bush administration’s policy on the use of torture in interrogations. Plus, he was faulted for being the latest nonprosecutor tapped to fill a senior post at the Justice Department. But Flanigan took the most heat for his relationship with disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who performed lobbying work for Tyco and allegedly defrauded the company of $1.5 million during Flanigan’s watch. In written responses to Judiciary Committee questions, Flanigan said he relied on the reputation of Abramoff’s then law 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 wrote. The Abramoff link continued to plague Flanigan’s nomination, however, and drew unwanted attention to Tyco at a time when several of its former executives were being sentenced for criminal conduct. The company is still recovering from a massive accounting fraud orchestrated by former CEO Dennis Koslowski. Flanigan joined Tyco in 2002 as part of a new management team installed after Koslowski’s departure. Still, Flanigan maintains that the Abramoff controversy wasn’t why he dropped out of the deputy AG fight. “I was concerned about the delay and the uncertainty of the confirmation process,” he says. “Because of the burden that it imposed on my family, the Department of Justice, Tyco, and me, I decided to ask the president to withdraw my name.” Flanigan, who will stay at Tyco, declines to say anything more about his withdrawal. His supporters, however, have no problem venting their frustration. “Democrats smelled blood, and they were going to use Tim’s nomination to milk the Abramoff thing as much as they could,” says Bill Barr, the GC at Verizon Communications and a former attorney general in the Reagan administration. Barr adds, “Nothing I’ve seen suggests Tim did anything wrong.” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also came to Flanigan’s defense, calling it a “sad day when the politics of personal destruction drives good people from public service.” In addition to his relationship with Abramoff and his role in developing the torture policy, Flanigan was also criticized by Democrats for his lack of prosecutorial experience. At a September hearing, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, went so far as to compare Flanigan with Michael Brown, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency who was blasted for his office’s response to Hurricane Katrina. “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 took issue with the charge that he was a political hack, pointing to his service in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during the administration of President George H.W. Bush, and Flanigan’s post-9/11 experience as deputy White House counsel. “The fact that a man may not have been a prosecutor doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand the criminal laws,” Sen. Hatch told the Judiciary Committee. The prosecutorial inexperience argument seems to have resonated with the Bush administration, however. Two weeks after Flanigan withdrew his name, the president nominated Paul McNulty to the deputy AG post. As the U.S. Attorney in Alexandria, Va., since 2001, McNulty has overseen the prosecution of several high-profile terrorism cases. Earlier this year, his office obtained a guilty plea from Zacarias Moussaoui, who admitted to taking part in an Al Qaeda conspiracy that included the 9/11 attacks. Though McNulty must now run the Senate confirmation gauntlet himself, he has already started serving as acting deputy AG.

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