12.6.12 Scoot@wwl.com What struck me most about U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s resignation today were a couple of things he said in making the announcement. He expressed how proud he is of his office and also said that the decision to resign was “ultimately mine.”
Jim Letten was the longest serving U.S. Attorney in the country and at a time when the chasm between Republicans and Democrats is growing, Letten received bipartisan praise. Letten was appointed by President George W. Bush, but was expected to continue his reign during President Obama’s second term. Letten did a lot to earn the image of a tough prosecutor, who was determined to change the politically corrupt landscape of New Orleans and Louisiana. But in the end, Jim Letten leaves under suspicion of allowing prosecutors under him to blog freely about court cases and sealed documents.
So what is Jim Letten so proud of? He was betrayed by Sal Perricone. He was betrayed by the prosecutor he assigned to investigate Perricone, Jan Mann, who has now admitted she blogged confidential information. His office now draws criticism and questions about some of the high-profile cases he prosecuted, not the least of which is the NOPD officers convicted in the Danzinger Bridge Trial. Is he proud of that?
And let’s set the record straight – U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s resignation was probably not his decision. The Department of Justice had no choice but to force Letten out. As the DOJ continues to investigate, Letten’s future is unknown. What did he know?
What is sad about this is the knight in shining armor, who road in on a white horse to clean up corruption, leaves his high position with serious questions about whether the office fighting corruption was indeed corrupt. If employees participate in inappropriate behavior at the office or in the name of the office, I think it’s fair to point to their boss. Bosses should always set the tone for what will and will not be tolerated.
Did the power and notoriety change Jim Letten? One day we may know more about what he knew concerning the unethical activities in his office, but for now, we can look at Letten as a boss who allowed unethical behavior that puts some very important cases in jeopardy.
Considering the negative reputation this city and this state have earned over the years, the resignation of our U.S. Attorney further enhances that reputation. Is he ‘proud’ of that?
I’m wondering if Jim Letten and former Mayor Ray Nagin are two people hoping the Mayan Calendar is right!