Friday, October 30, 2009

Mary Beth Buchanan Gives Two Weeks Notice

In the end, it must have been this. But it looks for all the world like they'll throw her an office party with cake and everything.

"It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to serve the people of Western Pennsylvania and this great nation," she said. "After more than eight years in the best job anyone could ever have, I am looking forward to the next chapter of my professional career."

It had been rumored that Ms. Buchanan is pondering a run for Congress against Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire of McCandless next fall, but she has never confirmed that. (P-G, Paula Reed Ward; see also Trib, Tony LaRussa)

What do we think: is Altmire even vaguely vulnerable to a challenge to begin with? And if so, is Buchanan a plausible fit for that district?

Sidebar: what do know about the presumptive successor, David Hickton? Seems he's a qualified attorney, but he's usually first described as a "Democratic fundraiser". That makes me ... nervous.


  1. Bram: re: Hickton

    I'd encourage you to ask around downtown about David Hickton's reputation and I think you'll be placated.

  2. Mary Beth heard…Alpark Terrace, "The City's Oldest Mobile Home Community, was going Federal…”

    With it’s complaint…ZBA Case # 109-09.

    ..she has forsaken her constituency: Republican Trailer Trash that clings to Religion and Guns as homes were towed away.

    There is reason for recent vacation by Ross Street Director.

    Cheek and Chong…lived at Alpark Terrace, tax free during Federal Investigation.

    Ok, I know things… that should not be repeated…State Rep. Wayne Fontana’s Brother (Joe)was an agent for The International Union Of Boilermakers Local 154 and actively participated in communities’ demise as the manager of Alpark…I’m thinking he did not claim in-kind services as income…

    Sen. Wayne’s brother (Joe) has purchase nice trailer while other residents are threatened over phone by him and other Union Officials…maybe his family also includes Cheek and/or Chong.

    And his squeeze was busted for buying tax free tobacco over internet…Feds are involved.

    Maybe it wasn’t tobacco…most residents did ask, ‘what is Joe Smoking?’ Not Camel, but Fontana…

    Giving credit where credit is due…Nobody builds 13 story tall bongs like the Boilermakers Local 154...


  3. Bram,

    Buchanan would not last an election cycle. She has made many enemies through cases that many question. When she has already gone on the record for alleging Dr. Wecht criminally misused his office by sending out 27 faxes, how do you think Buchanan will fair under a similar microscope? And yes, as a public figure, the information can (and probably will) be obtained through a freedom of information request.

    As for your viewpoint that medical marijuana is the reason, I highly doubt it. Buchanan's term ended as of the end of September. She knew she was being replaced. After the controversy via the allegation of the improperly taped calls surfaced this past week, Buchanan probably decided it is best to move on than be bogged down in paperwork and such around the pending review of the taping practices.

    But hey, perhaps you are right. Perhaps it is Obama that did her in.

  4. Whether Hickton's a good guy or not, I don't think it's the best idea to appoint a Democratic fundraiser to the U.S. Attorney's office in a city run by Democrats.

    We could use a few more checks and balances in Pittsburgh and the appointment of a competent Republican to takeover for Buchanan would be a step in the right direction.

  5. Dr. Howard?

    Dr. Fine...

    'Certainly'... agree.

    Corbett as Gov.

    Time to eliminate Federalists in favor of Republic minded.

    Unknown 'stooge'...

    Curly Monk...oxymoron

  6. Anon 5:52 - I was 98% kidding about the Obama/pot explanation. Though that might have been her cue, who knows.

    As to "she knew she was being replaced": commenters who sounded every bit as sober and knowledgeable as you assured me that she'd be replaced shortly after Obama's inauguration. Then when I wrote that one post back in March, I was told certainly by June. Then when June rolled around, it would be absolutely once her "term" ended in September. No matter one's feelings about her or her tenure as USA, I think it's time to accept she left on her own terms.

  7. Giles: Your insinuation that the sole reason (that he has donated to Democratic candidates, state and national) for his being in the final slots for the US attorney is ignorant.

    Like I said, do a little digging and I think you'll realize this was hardly a politically motivated move, even if it appears to be on the surface.

  8. It does not sound to me like Mary Beth Buchanan left on her own terms.

    She had leaked to the press that she would be willing to stay in office; ask anyone who knows her whether she is delusional enough to believe that she did a good job and that the new adminstration would consider keeping her.

    The new Department of Justice has been working on identifying a replacement since winter. Had Cliff Levine accepted the job, he would have been at that desk by now -- his ambivalence delayed selection of the replacement.

    The change can't occur fast enough. Mary Beth Buchanan has wrecked the local federal prosecution office . . . and her once-impressive career trajectory. (Remember when Republican big-wigs couldn't decide whether she should be used for Senate, for Governor, or for the Third Circuit?) She has been looking for a law firm job in Pittsburgh, without success, since last fall (in this situation, others make the inquiries, to avoid awkwardness and embarrassment all around, so it is the royal "she"). It is likely she wanted to leave before she had a landing pad arranged?

    She knows her replacement is imminent, and her only choice is to jump a few days before being pushed. I agree that Hickton, if he makes it, would not be a partisan pick. I do not expect him to be among this administration's stronger appointments. I can't figure out why he has moved to the head of the pack, but I do not believe the answer is politics.

    All that said, I hope Mary Beth Buchanan runs for Congress (I hear it both ways from Republicans and Democrats), because I like Jason Altmire.

  9. Wrecked is an understatement. I know her name is tainted good right now, but it's surprising she hasn't been able to pull her golden parachute (where have all the Republicans gone?).

    Even more surprising is MBB's new campaign slogan: "Operation Pipe Dream?"

  10. I've known Dave Hickton for some years through political circles and can tell you that my experience of Dave isn't of a fundraiser but as someone who would invite a couple dozen activists with differing opinions to sit down with him and share views, meet candidates and discuss perspectives. If Dave is the choice then I applaud the White House's decision making process.

  11. "Mary Beth Buchanan has wrecked the local federal prosecution office"

    Ummm... talk about being totally overdramatic. I realize partisans are prone to hyperbole but get a grip. I've had alot of exposure to the US Attorney's Office here in Pittsburgh during the reign of MBB and in my experience things ran pretty smoothly and there are many good prosecutors there. Insulting all the hardworking prosecutors and staff in the Pgh US Attorneys office because you clearly have a political axe to grind does not reflect well on your credibility. MBB also made our US Attorneys Office here in Pgh on the national forefont of cybercrime prosecution related to child exploitation. I think that is something for our city to be proud of.

    Regarding the replacement - this is totally expected. Most US Attorneys are replaced with a change in the presidency. In this case it should go to Steve Kaufmann who is an AUSA in the office. He is a career federal prosecutor with an ivy league pedigree. We would be lucky to have him. I believe he is a democrat and in the running but he is relatively a-political. I would think if Hickton got it over Kaufman it would be due to political considerations.

  12. I liked Steve Kaufmann enormously upon meeting him that one time, but also now have been hearing good things about David Hickton. Should be interesting to watch unfold.

    I agree there is a lot of axe grinding going on. I would be blind not to acknowledge it has been on both sides, but in particular the wolf-cries of impropriety at that press conference made a mountain out of no hill whatsoever. It was a bit on the unusual side (like everything else in the saga) but I've asked around amongst people with experience in grand jury cases, and it was in no way "inappropriate" or "despicable" or "witchcraft" or whatever was alleged loudly, despite what attorneys for the former defendant argued. That is why these complaints never got anywhere. I don't know about "live and let live", but it's time for everyone to move on.

  13. The most corrupt DA EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!