In the span of a few short months, Jim Letten has gone from "rock star" popularity in both legal circles and public opinion to an uncertain future as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Now, with a second scandal rocking his office, and President Obama soon beginning a second term, it remains to be seen if Letten will continue on as the chief federal prosecutor for an area that spans the thirteen parishes of Southeast Louisiana.
Letten released a tersely-worded statement this week announcing that his top assistant and head of his office's criminal investigations was no longer in a supervisory role after being caught posting online at Nola.com.
The news release from Letten did not specify if Jan Mann stepped down or was demoted. Letten's office later told WWL First News that Mann remains employed by the office as a prosecutor, but offered no details about her contact with active cases.
Seven months ago, another veteran prosecutor in Letten's office resigned after admitting to also blogging on nola.com anonymously about ongoing cases and investigations.
The backing of Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu allowed Letten, a Bush appointee, to remain on during President Obama's first term. While it is highly unusual for U.S. Attorneys to continue on into the administration of a new president of a different party, Letten's successful prosecution of several high-profile figures added to his popularity across the political spectrum. He enjoyed widespread, bipartisan acclaim as being above the political fray of rough-and-tumble Louisiana politics, targeting public corruption that had long since become a way of doing business in Louisiana.
However, that public acclaim, as well as the backing from Sen. Landrieu, may be wavering.
The senior Senator from Louisiana told WWL-TV, "Jim Letten and his team have done a very good job in the last several years in cracking down on corruption and they should get some high marks for that." However, she also said that the current problems surrounding the office are "troubling and unfortunate."
Landrieu tells WWL-TV's Paul Murphy that she has yet to speak with Letten about the problems.
"Mr. Letten and I have not had a conversation yet privately about it, but we will," said Landrieu. "I am still looking for the information to come in fully on this and we'll have to make some decisions."