By Stephanie Fryer
Illinois' two U.S. senators are working together in a bipartisan effort to nominate a replacement for outgoing U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, whose last day on the job is June 30.
"Democrat or Republican doesn't really matter," said Christina Angarola, spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, who heads the process. U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk also will have input.
"Both senators work in conjunction with one another. Even though Durbin is the Democratic senator, the senator from the opposing party (Kirk) doesn't have zero power. They embarked on the process together," Angarola said.
Fitzgerald has been the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois for more than 10 years. He oversaw numerous high-profile corruption investigations, including those of former Govs. George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich.
Fitzgerald can recommend someone for the post on an interim basis until a permanent U.S. attorney is named. His spokesman, Randall Samborn, on Friday would not confirm whether Fitzgerald had done so. Samborn said the process is a private matter and would remain an internal affair for the U.S. Department of Justice.
A call to the office of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has final approval over an interim replacement, was not returned.
Durbin could send the names of several potential nominees for the permanent post to Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, would approve one, send it to the Senate Judiciary Committee for approval, and it then would go on to the full U.S. Senate for approval.
The Senate, however, is in recess for six weeks during August and September, and again in October for the election.
"If Durbin and Kirk bring in a candidate today, it still wouldn't work for that nominee to be approved before the election," Angarola said.
The election also is a factor. If Obama loses, Kirk then gets to make the final recommendation for an appointment.
"It is a really complicated process," Angarola said. "They will work together from the beginning so when in a position to make this recommendation they both agree on it."
By Stephanie Fryer