Senators back Fishman for U.S. Attorney

Paul Fishman is likely to become New Jersey's next United States Attorney after receiving the endorsements of New Jersey's two U.S. Senators today.

In a joint letter to President Obama, Frank R. Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park) and Robert Menendez (D-Hoboken) are recommending the appointment of Fishman, a former federal prosecutor and Justice Department official.

The post has been vacant since Republican Christopher J. Christie resigned on December 1. Ralph Marra, Jr. is now the Acting U.S. Attorney.

"With so many critical issues facing our state, Paul Fishman will be a terrific U.S. Attorney. He has the knowledge, expertise and judgment to protect the people of New Jersey in the years ahead," said Lautenberg, who has been advocating Fishman's appointment since last fall.

Menendez said that "New Jersey families deserve a U.S. Attorney who makes protecting them from economic crimes, the spreading gang activity, as well as gun and drug trafficking a priority of the office."

"I am confident that Paul Fishman will work with integrity and effectiveness to do just that," Menendez said.

Lautenberg pushed hard for Fishman to get the U.S. Attorney post when Faith Hochberg was nominated to a federal judgeship in 1999. But Fishman got in the middle of a rather extraordinary public feud between Lautenberg and U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli. The Clinton administration sided with Torricelli, and when Hochberg resigned to take her seat on the bench (after a lengthy delay in the confirmation process), Attorney General Janet Reno elevated Torricelli's preferred choice, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Cleary, as New Jersey's interim federal prosecutor.

The 52-year-old Fishman, a Princeton University graduate and editor of the Harvard Law Review, worked in the U.S. Attorney's office as Chief of the Criminal Division and as First Assistant before going to Washington as a senior advisor to Reno and as a Deputy U.S. Attorney General. Fishman is a partner at Friedman, Kaplan, Seiler and Adelman, where he specializes in white collar criminal matters. Fishman has represented several public officials prosecuted by Christie, and is currently an attorney for former CWA Local 1034 President Carla Katz, who is seeking to keep her e-mail correspondence with Governor Jon Corzine private.

"I am grateful to Senators Lautenberg and Menendez for their confidence in my ability to lead the U.S. Attorney's Office and their enthusiastic support," Fishman said in a statement released by the Senate offices. Public service is a privilege, and I am committed to guiding the office with fairness, impartiality, and the highest level of integrity."

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, the Hudson County Democratic Chairman, applauded Fishman's appointment and said he hopes the Obama administration will now consider the appointment of a Regional Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Healy, an early Obama supporter, has recommended Bill Matsikoudis, the Jersey City Corporation Counsel and a former Assistant Counsel to the Governor.

"Paul Fishman has all the qualifications in the world to be U.S. Attorney, and then some," Healy said. "This is someone who has experienced the justice system from both the government and defense perspectives and will be fair and just. This is another example of the excellent judgment of our two U.S. Senators, who have the full support of Jersey City."