In June 2006, the Justice Department fired Bud Cummins as U.S. attorney in Arkansas and replaced him with Karl Rove-protege Tim Griffin.
In a Dec. 26, 2006 article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse explained that they “temporarily” appointed Griffin, rather than Bud Cummins’ deputy Jane Duke, because Duke was pregnant:
He noted that often, the first assistant U.S. attorney in the affected district will serve as the acting U.S. attorney until the formal nomination process begins for a replacement. But in this case, “the first assistant is on maternity leave,” he said, referring to Jane Duke, who gave birth to twins earlier than expected the same week of the announcement.
As ThinkProgress noted earlier, on Jan. 11, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) wrote a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and expressed concern with the maternity leave excuse, saying that it “concerns me on several levels, but most importantly it uses pregnancy and motherhood as conditions that deny an appointment.”
Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee made public Cummins’s written testimony following his March 6 appearance before the panel. Cummins confirmed that pregnancy and motherhood were used as excuses to deny an appointment. He added that Roehrkasse’s statement was “ridiculous” and “mocked” by people in the Arkansas legal community because Duke would have been perfectly able to serve as an interim U.S. attorney “for six weeks or more” if she would have been asked:
I told Elston that most people in our relatively small legal community had instantly mocked that statement because it was obvious Tim Griffin had been here for months for the purpose of taking over on my departure, because no person was aware of any conversations or other communications that might demonstrate that appointing the First Assistant was EVER a consideration, and because even though she actually had left the office a week before (on or about December 14) to give birth to twins, her due date was much later in early February and until she went out for an emergency delivery the week before she had been widely expected to continue to work in the office until February, so she actually could have been available for six weeks or more to serve as an interim had anybody ever considered that option. Nobody had and that was obvious. I told them it was a ridiculous thing to say in light of what many people here knew and that they shouldn’t repeat it.
Using discrimination against women as an excuse to install a political loyalist is no better.