Washington — A Wichita attorney and longtime friend of Sen. Sam Brownback is President Bush's choice to be the top federal prosecutor in Kansas.
Eric Melgren will be the nominee for U.S. attorney after a background check is completed, Brownback's office confirmed Friday. Melgren, 44, was considered for a federal judgeship but became a candidate for U.S. attorney after Bush's first choice dropped out.
As a partner in the Wichita firm of Foulston Siefkin LLP, Melgren handles business-related issues including tax litigation.
"One of the ironies of this may be that I've most often been involved in litigation against the government, and now I'll be representing them," Melgren said in an interview with The Associated Press.
The president chooses nominees but tends to follow the wishes of his party's senior senator. That means Brownback, R-Kan., named Melgren for the post. The jobs are subject to Senate consent.
Jim Flory, Lawrence, a former Douglas County district attorney, has served as interim U.S. attorney since May.
Melgren earned a law degree from Washburn University and a bachelor's degree from Wichita State University, where he served as student body president the same year Brownback was student body president at Kansas State University.
They became friends that year, and Melgren helped Brownback raise funds for his 1994 congressional campaign. Melgren took a leave of absence from his practice after 1994 to help Brownback set up his office during the first 100 days of the new Congress, and he worked on Brownback's 1996 Senate campaign.
Brownback's first choice for the job was Republican former state Rep. Phill Kline, but Kline withdrew his nomination in September and is now running for Kansas attorney general. Kline, who lost a high-profile congressional race last year, cited the months-long wait for confirmation as well as the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Earlier, Brownback suggested Melgren as one of three candidates for an open federal judgeship in Kansas. But the administration chose U.S. bankruptcy Judge Julie A. Robinson, whose nomination passed muster with the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week.
Melgren would be one of 93 U.S. attorneys, who serve as the nation's main litigators at the direction of the attorney general and at the discretion of the president.