Obama Appoints Wendy Olson as Idaho U.S. Attorney

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The Obama administration has appointed Wendy Olson, a career U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor, to head up the U.S. Attorney's Office in Idaho. Olson's appointment comes nearly a year and a half into Obama's term; Bush-era U.S. Attorney for Idaho, Tom Moss, has continued to lead the office in the interim.

According to the Obama release:
"Olson has been with the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Idaho since 1997, where she was an assistant United States attorney until 2006, when she became senior litigation counsel. Olson was an adjunct professor of legal writing at the George Washington University School of Law from 1994 until 1997. Prior to that, she worked for the Civil Rights Division of the Criminal Section of the United States Department of Justice, where she was a trial attorney from 1992 until 1996, and deputy director of operations and assistant to the director on the National Church Arson Task Force from 1996 until 1997. Olson served as a law clerk for the Honorable Barbara J. Rothstein of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. Olson earned her undergraduate degree at Drake University in 1986 and received her J.D. from the Stanford University School of Law in 1990."

Obama, having made several clunky appointments at the outset of his term, has slowed political appointments since about November 2009, according to this Washington Post graphic. About 35 of his U.S. attorney appointments have been confirmed, to date.

In Montana, Sen. Max Baucus's girlfriend was in the running for the U.S. Attorney slot there before she withdrew in December 2009.

Olson has given modest campaign contributions to Democrats, including Jerry Brady who ran for Idaho governor in 2006, and to state Sen. Kate Kelly of Boise's District 18, according to the Idaho Secretary of State's database.

Rep. Walt Minnick recommended Olson to the Obama administration after a panel reviewed several candidates for the job including former U.S. Attorney for Idaho Betty Richardson and Kelly.

All four of Idaho's federal representatives support the nomination and promised to help speed her confirmation in the U.S. Senate.

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