Annoyed, perhaps, at a steady drumbeat of news stories pointing out that he has yet to fill hundreds of appointed positions, President Donald Trump has put out word that he wants nominees – soon – for many of the federal jobs he has yet to fill.
Along with administration posts, the open jobs include 129 seats on the federal bench, of which four are in district courts in Louisiana. (Another three are on the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans.)
Louisiana’s three U.S. attorney positions are also vacant, a direct result of the nationwide purge of holdovers from President Barack Obama's administration.
But now Trump wants those jobs filled. He’s hoping to announce nominees for at least a dozen U.S. attorneys within the next couple of weeks, according to a recent Politico article.
One of those could be the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana: As The Advocate reported Thursday, the state's congressional leadership -- in particular U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, who is taking the lead on that appointment -- has coalesced behind lawyer Kyle Schonekas for that post.
But the other two U.S. attorney posts in Louisiana are unlikely to be among the first batch filled.
The usual practice for filling such jobs is to take recommendations from the state’s U.S. senators, in this case Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, because the Senate must confirm all presidential nominees. Typically, they split the load, with each one senator doing most of the screening for each of the posts.
Cassidy has appointed a team to help him vet candidates. The group is led by his brother, lawyer David Cassidy, a partner in the Baton Rouge office of Brazeale, Sachse & Wilson.
Other members include New Orleans real estate lawyer Benjamin Guider III; Hammond real estate lawyer Lesli Bolner; Maura Donahue, the wife of state Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, and an executive in the family’s Mandeville-based construction firm; Samuel Giberga, general counsel of Covington-based Hornbeck Offshore Services; Shane Guidry, chief executive of New Orleans-based Harvey Gulf International Marine and a top official in state Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office; Tim Francis, a lawyer at New Orleans’ Sher Garner firm; and Lockport shipbuilding magnate Boysie Bollinger.
David Cassidy told The Advocate the committee has not yet started interviewing candidates for the various open positions, in part because it’s been difficult to get the whole group in one room at the same time.
Kennedy, meanwhile, is doing his own vetting, according to a spokeswoman.
“Senator Kennedy has personally visited and talked with several candidates for the vacancies in Louisiana,” said spokeswoman Michelle Milhollon. “Each senator must choose his or her own approach for finding the best candidates, and this is the approach that works for Senator Kennedy.”
Editor's note: This post was updated May 5 to reflect new information.