Loose Lips

Gray’s A.G. Pick has “Insulted … Everyone Living in D.C.”

Subjects of Lawyertown, USA, meet your new king. (Hint, the guy on the right.)

Almost Mayor Vince Gray has picked Irv Nathan to be the District's next attorney general. Nathan is currently the general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Like Still Attorney General Peter Nickles, the man he'll be replacing (unless the D.C. Council says otherwise), Nathan is a short, white, old man. The Post's Tim Craig finds this fact surprising; he reports that some were expecting the next A.G. to be either black or a woman. Or a black woman.

Nathan says he's from Baltimore but has lived in the District (Ward 3) for the last 35 plus years. And no, he does not own a horse farm. He was tapped for his current gig by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in 2007. Prior to that, he worked at the powerhouse law firm Arnold and Porter. In a statement, Pelosi said Nathan had served the House "with distinction."

"In particular, his work was invaluable in vindicating the House’s congressional subpoena authority in a landmark contempt of Congress case, in which the House Judiciary Committee enforced subpoenas issued by the committee seeking information from the Bush White House on the firing of several U.S. attorneys," said Pelosi.

A selective stroll down archive lane reveals the following about Nathan:

  • He was once scolded thusly by the famous U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan: "You have insulted not only the city government, but everyone living in D.C." Nathan was representing the rail company CSX, which apparently was upset that the D.C. Council didn't want hazardous freight running through town. (Similarly, Sullivan once told Nickles to quit "playing games.")
  • When shock jock Howard Stern and CBS went to court, Nathan represented CBS.
  • He represented the CFO of WorldCom (remember that fiasco?).
  • He also represented a West Palm Beach lawyer charged with wrongdoing in the collapse of a savings and loans. (Savings and loans, remember those fiascoes!?)

At that point, LL's Nexis connection stopped working. Anyway, Gray took a not-very-veiled parting jab at Nickles at the news conference where he introduced Nathan.

"Mr. Nathan will join me in taking politics out of the  office of the attorney general. Public safety decisions can't be based on political motives that cloud the judgment of those empowered to apply the law and serve the people of the District of Columbia," Gray said. Or, in other words, Man, I'm still ticked off about my fence!

Nathan said he thought Nickles was "very talented and energetic." When asked what he thought of some of the politically sensitive investigations Nickles is leaving him with, Nathan said he's not going to comment before being briefed and he's not going to make up his mind based on what he's read in the newspaper. Apparently, Nathan hasn't been informed that as the new AG, he gets his own column in the Post. It's called the editorial page! Kidding!

Nathan declined to say who he voted for, or how he voted on the referendum to have an elected A.G. position, but did say he won't be running for the position in 2014.

In other news: Gray announced that MPD Chief Cathy Lanier will keep her job, and former Assistant Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe will be his new fire chief. Gray also announced that he's re-establishing the position for deputy mayor for public safety and justice, and Paul A. Quander Jr. will be filling that role. The Quander family name, if you didn't know, is about as old school as they come in D.C.

Nickles photo by Darrow Montgomery. Nathan photo courtesy of the Abramson Foundation.

  • Just Curious

    I wonder how much of his time he will spend dealing with waste, fraud and abuse in public contracting there. Particularly as it relates to cronies of the incoming mayor and the lottery contract that he (Mayor Elect Gray) steered to a buddy.

    Interesting times... Will Irv be independent or another mayoral lackey?

    Just Curious

  • michaeliceman

    Interesting! I am not Fenty guy, but I wonder what all those folks will say who were criticizing him for putting White folks in his highest positions. All the distinguished Woman, Black and Hispanic lawyers in this town and he picks a White guy. Really?

  • Truth Hurts

    Money quote: He'll "join me in taking politics out of the office of the attorney general."

    This coming from a guy who just said the AG's Team Thomas investigation (that Nathan will inherit) is politically motivated. Thomas and Cooke are out making snow angels around the Wilson Building.

    When Gray formulated his "no politics" intro line, did it dawn on him that Nathan's most notable recent achievement is enforcing a subpoena issued by Democrats directed at Republicans? About half the country believes that subpoena was politically motivated.

  • Grace Jones

    What's the difference between a black and white woman? They both are women. Are white women seen as being of the superior race because they are Caucasian?

  • drez

    This was a great read. The tone and style were excellent.

  • Truth Hurts

    Update on Gray's "taking politics out of the office" intro.

    Google Nathan. The entire Republican caucus walked out before the House voted to authorize Nathan's subpoena to Bush, et al. Their reason? (drum roll, pls) It was politically motivated.

    I post this only to illustrate why Gray's cheap shot was simply ill-advised grandstanding. I'm not Republican, and have no beef with Nathan.

  • DC Voter

    It is becoming more apparent with every appointment that Gray will not rest until he has resurrected the unfunded federal pension liability. "Vince Gray, Marching Boldly into the Past", "The Sharon Pratt Dixon Kelly Years, We'll get them Right This Time", "Mr. Obama, Tear Down That Metro System".

    In another vein Mr. Gray announced that his administration will dismantle the costly to maintain information technology network in the District and return all city agencies to the use of the abacus.

  • tired

    Vince Gray has lost his damn mind. If I wanted Fenty's ass I would have voted for him another one term idiot. Politicians are full of crap, throw out all the bums.

  • tired

    Excuse me but this is Fenty old appointees, Rubins, (Ellerbee), Rhee (Kaya Henderson). Quander was Lanier's underlin now her boss. Who in the hell is advising this old bastard Fenty himself. Gray their is a place in hell for your lies and misdeeds and you have not even been sworn in yet.

  • curiousgeorge

    This is really terrible reporting. A "selective stroll down archive lane"? Are you kidding me? "I'm still ticked off about my fence"? No reactions from anyone on Lanier or Ellerbee. And the "Quander family name"? Who is Paul Quander and what has he accomplished at CSOSA and the CJCC, how did he get this job, and what did he say he is going to do with it? What kind of bullshit reporting is this, LL?

  • SEis4ME

    Alan, this piece is beneath you. What you have basically done is tell us that Gray has picked this guy, the outgoing GC to Congress, is sheisty. introduce a new face to DC politics by telling us all the shiesty things he's been accused of. No real discussion of why he "may" be qualified beyond his current title (as if that's not enough) but only what you were only able to gather from your trip down archive lane - and none of it was good.

    Also, apparently "you" must be surprised that Gray chose another one of "you" for the slot since, for some strange reason, you decided to quote the complete idiocy of Tim Craig.

    Whom will you quote next, Jeremiah Wright or Farrakhan?

  • SEis4ME

    Ok, well it's really not beneath you.

  • NU78

    As I recall, Nathan's subpoena involved the issue of U.S. attorneys being fired by a Republican administration for politically motivated reasons, rather than having anything to do with their ability as U.S. Justice Department lawyers.

    It's funny that all Republican transgressions seem to be forgotten these days and just twisted to somehow blame Democrats. Just like the whole unemployment extension was twisted to make people yell at Democrats who opposed the tax cut extension compromise (which included the unemployment extension). People forgot pretty quickly that the House had already passed the unemployment extension, but the Republicans in the Senate defeated it.

    Everything I've heard about Nathan so far tells me that he may be exactly what D.C. needs at this time: an attorney general who has NO connections to local D.C. politics.

    I'm still wondering if there's any spillover into D.C. from all that PG County government corruption that's been unfolding...

  • Brahmin

    When did this paper turn into a blog for barely literate racist?

  • DUH

    Who dat racist, brimhim?

  • DC Respected Common People

    Gray's appointments ensures that the whites return home to roost over the Blacks.

    So, Black folks we must let him know now ENOUGH, as this city has experience Black folks with excellent record to achieve appointments from this weak Chief Executive Official.

    And you all voted for this man w/o real political balls as a ADULT Black MALE with similar working characteristics as the outgoing weak Mayor.

  • http://doubletalk ebrown

    Not quander vet him and then punt the ego-ego-ego, reverse-discriminator. Check the record, from DC Corrections forward...inexplicable poor decisions and cover ups behind Eleanor's blessing and that huddle of old school crew. There is a reason he's modeling Mr. Local justice.

  • I live here

    Stop the whining. Nathan is fine for DC. He represented who he represented. Everyone deserves a lawyer. The only part I don't like is Pelosi's endorsement.