Federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy has taken on Connecticut's most powerful politicians, sending a governor, a state treasurer and others to prison for corruption.
Now the nation's top law enforcement official wants her to pursue possible criminal charges against Republicans involved in the firings of nine U.S. attorneys.
"No one will outwork her. No one is going to be smarter than her," said Mike Clark, a retired FBI agent who investigated former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland. "No one will conduct the investigation with more integrity than her."
Dannehy, 47, a graduate of Harvard Law School who has been with the U.S. attorney's office in Connecticut since 1991, is known for avoiding the media and prefers to let colleagues speak for the record.
Dannehy prosecuted Rowland, a three-term governor, after a wide-ranging investigation into contract-steering and bribery in his administration. Rowland spent 10 months in prison.
Dannehy also was the lead prosecutor in the investigation into a bribery and kickback scheme involving former state Treasurer Paul Silvester. He pleaded guilty, and his testimony was key to other convictions and pleas from associates.
"She won't let the politics get in her way of conducting an investigation," Clark said. "She doesn't care what political party anyone is or where their power base may be coming from."