Tamara Matthews Johnson, an African-American woman with Republican leanings, has the inside track to the job, according to a report at The Locust Fork News-Journal Web site.
A source tells Locust Fork editor and publisher Glynn Wilson that a Johnson appointment would be "disastrous." Reports Wilson:
Ms. Johnson ostensibly has the inside track in part because of a close friend on the White House staff from law school, but her appointment “would be disastrous,” the key source says. In spite of being black, she is a right-wing Republican in the mold of Condoleezza Rice and Clarence Thomas, and would be the “absolute worse thing that could happen” to the Middle District of Alabama.
The Middle District of Alabama currently is led by George W. Bush appointee Leura Canary, who oversaw the Siegelman prosecution and reportedly failed to abide by her recusal in the case. The Obama administration has floated several names that have been rejected by Alabama's two Republican U.S. senators, Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions.
A source says the process for naming a new U.S. attorney in Montgomery has been deeply flawed. Reports Wilson:
The Obama administration has charted a policy of not naming new U.S. attorneys until replacements can be found, in what our key source calls “a bad policy.” The administration is also reportedly searching for candidates who would not face controversial confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate, thus the reason Republican Senators such as Shelby have a voice at all with a Democrat in the White House and a solid Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.
Johnson has served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Alabama under controversial Bush appointee Alice Martin. Johnson has been involved in a number of high-profile corruption cases against Democrats, amid charges that the Bush Department of Justice was driven by political motives. Most recently, she was involved in the prosecution of former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford. Writes Wilson:
Tamara Matthews Johnson, on the other hand, was involved in the public corruption unit in Birmingham that brought the original charges against Siegelman that were eventually dropped by U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon. She worked on every case brought against Democrats in the Alabama Legislature, sources say, as well as the Langford case, in what is being described as “an ethically challenged office.”
Ms. Johnson “is exceptionally bright and has a hell of a resume,” the key source says. She attended Duke Law School and clerked with a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. “But she is a rabid, right-wing Republican.”
Wilson's source says a Johnson appointment is a strong possibility unless Democratic Party activists step in to stop it. The source is not sure who is pushing for Johnson's appointment. But the Obama administration has taken pride in the non-partisan nature of its appointments, and Johnson could fit the mold of a "moderate Republican."
The source, however, says Johnson is anything but moderate. And she has served under some terrible role models. Writes Wilson:
Our key source does not know who is directly driving the train in this case, but he urged people to call and voice objections with President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senior adviser David Axelrod and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
They should say “this is wrong,” the source said. “Yeah, we want Leura Canary out of there, but we don’t want somebody who is worse.”
Ms. Johnson, the source says, “would be another Alice Martin.”