My friend Rachel Paulose commenced her service as the United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota in March 2006 and will leave early next month for a high position in the Department of Justice. During her term in office, Rachel has been the victim of vicious smears and constant, if mostly unspecific, derogattion of her management skills or management style. She tersely responded to the smears she has endured in the column I wrote for NRO and shortly thereafter accepted appointment to the position in the Justice Department.
Yesterday’s Star Tribune carried Dan Browning’s retrospective on Rachel’s only full year in office. Browning’s retrospective on the office’s 2007 fiscal year provides an interesting reality check on the constant criticism of Rachel’s performance in office:
In her only full year on the job, U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose matched or exceeded the prosecution statistics of previous years, according to a review by the Star Tribune.
Paulose prosecuted 668 defendants in fiscal year 2007, which ended in September, a record number that came amid resignations of top managers, a drop in prosecutors and fewer referrals from the FBI
“I think the record is going to show that we increased productivity dramatically,” Paulose said in a recent interview.
Paulose is stepping down in January to take a policy adviser job in the attorney general’s office in Washington, ending a tumultuous tenure in which top managers stepped down and her management came under scrutiny by federal officials. Her departure was announced last month amid reports of another staff insurrection in response to her comments to a conservative website about “the McCarthyite hysteria that permits the anonymous smearing of … a member of the Federalist Society; a person of faith; and/or a conservative (especially a young, conservative woman of color).”
At the time, some Paulose critics said she neglected complex white-collar crimes. But the review of prosecutions shows that in 2007, the only full fiscal year she served in the post, the Minnesota district prosecuted 94 defendants for white-collar crimes. That’s the office average since 1994.
The analysis shows dramatic increases in the number of defendants prosecuted for drugs and violations of civil rights and immigration laws. Prosecutions for violent crimes were also up. The increases coincided with a yearlong hiring freeze that left the office down the equivalent of five full-time prosecutors for most of Paulose’s 20-month tenure, according to Jeff Paulsen, chief of the criminal division.
“Basically, we were doing more with less,” Paulsen said.
To be sure, many of the cases were already lined up before Paulose came on board on March 1, 2006. Her predecessor, Tom Heffelfinger, said it takes at least a year for complex cases developed under an outgoing U.S. attorney to work through the system. Paulose agrees, noting that the same will apply to her contributions.
The review also shows a decline in the number of cases referred to the U.S. attorney’s office from the FBI, which historically has delivered most of the white-collar crime cases. To take on more counterterrorism cases, the FBI office in Minneapolis cut one of its two financial crimes squads and reduced the number of agents on those cases by two-thirds.
Paulose gave credit to Heffelfinger for helping to develop the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force and initiatives that helped fill the gap in referrals for white-collar crime.
She pointed to her two new task forces that focus on mortgage and bankruptcy fraud.
“I think the best way to measure success is to look at what we promised we would do and see if we fulfilled our promises,” Paulose said. “And I think in terms of both productivity and in terms of law enforcement initiatives that are important in Minnesota, we’ve kept our promises.”
Thomas Sowell summarizes his critique of leftist bromides with the question Is Reality Optional? The same question occurs to me in connection with Browning’s retrospecive on Rachel’s term in office.
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