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Paulose confirmed as U.S. attorney

  • Article by: Chris Serres
  • Star Tribune
  • December 9, 2006 - 11:38 PM

Rachel Paulose of Eagan became the federal government's top prosecutor in Minnesota when the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed her early Saturday.

She succeeds Tom Heffelfinger, who announced his resignation as U.S. attorney for Minnesota in February.

Paulose, 33, is the youngest current U.S. attorney and is Minnesota's first woman to hold that position.

The U.S. attorney is considered to be among the state's most prominent federal positions, with oversight over federal prosecutions and civil cases in the state. In the position, Paulose also will play a key role in determining the types of cases federal prosecutors pursue in Minnesota.

In the past, she has worked on issues of health care, immigration and child pornography, according to a memo she wrote for the Senate.

"I applaud my colleagues for giving her the confirmation that she deserved today," U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said in a written statement Saturday.

But the confirmation nearly didn't happen. Late Friday, it appeared the Senate would adjourn without acting on the nomination. That would have meant that President Bush, if he chose, would have had to resubmit her name to the next Senate, effectively restarting the nomination process from scratch. And the chances of confirmation would have declined substantially with a new Democratic majority.

Though Paulose had the backing of the Bush administration this fall, she and her supporters had neglected to seek the support of both home-state senators. The apparent oversight was significant because the Senate Judiciary Committee typically does not act on a nominee without that support.

Following a hastily arranged meeting with Paulose on Wednesday, outgoing Sen. Mark Dayton, D.-Minn. announced his support for the nominee. However, it still appeared that the Senate session would end before it took up her confirmation. To help push the vote, Coleman late Friday urged Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., to allow a full Senate vote before adjournment. The vote occurred soon after midnight. "Up until last night, it still wasn't a sure thing, because of the countless things going on at the end of the session," said Luke Friedrich, a spokesman for Coleman.

Paulose's choice as interim U.S. attorney nine months ago came as something of a surprise, partly because she has kept such a low profile. She has repeatedly declined interviews with the Star Tribune.

A graduate of Yale Law School in 1997, Paulose served in the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department for a year, was a federal prosecutor in Minneapolis for three-plus years, and has worked for the law firms of Williams & Connolly and Dorsey & Whitney. She returned to the Justice Department as senior counsel to Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, a position she held for two months.

Chris Serres • 612-673-4308 • cserres@startribune.com

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