A half-dozen U.S. attorneys also serve as aides to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales or are assigned other Washington postings, performing tasks that take them away from regular duties for months or even years at a time, reports the Washington Post. Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer has been absent from his job as U.S. attorney in Montana for nearly two years — prompting the chief federal judge to demand his removal and call his office “a mess.”
U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan of Boston has been in Washington for the past six months as acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The number of U.S. attorneys pulling double duty is the focus of growing concern from other prosecutors and from members of the federal bench. The reliance on federal prosecutors to fill Washington jobs comes amid controversy over the firings of eight other U.S. attorneys. One of them, David C. Iglesias of New Mexico, was accused by the Justice Department of being an “absentee landlord” who was away from his job too much. “I can’t think of a time when there’s been this many U.S. attorneys doing double duty at one time,” said Dennis Boyd of the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, which represents federal prosecutors.