“As I begin my service, I commit to them that I will be tireless in my efforts to fight crime and root out corruption.” KENNETH POLITE, new U.S. attorney for New Orleans
WASHINGTON — Kenneth Polite officially can take over as the new U.S. attorney for the New Orleans metro area after being confirmed late Tuesday by the full U.S. Senate.
Polite takes over as the top federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of Louisiana. His confirmation Tuesday came quickly and without opposition — about a week earlier than expected — after Polite was first recommended for the job back in February.
Polite, 37, fills the void left by former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, who resigned in December amid a scandal concerning two top prosecutors anonymously criticizing judges and defendants online. Dana J. Boente, of Virginia, has served as the interim U.S. attorney.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., first recommended Polite for the job, choosing to make him the sole choice. She contended that he stood out from the pack of potential choices. President Barack Obama formally nominated Polite in June.
“I am grateful for the immense honor to serve the people of Louisiana’s Eastern District,” Polite said in a prepared statement. “This is a responsibility that I take seriously. As I begin my service, I commit to them that I will be tireless in my efforts to fight crime and root out corruption. I thank President Obama for nominating me and Sen. Landrieu for her recommendation and her unwavering support through this process.”
“I’m confident that the people of the Eastern District will be well served by the leadership of Kenneth Polite,” Landrieu said. “He is a smart, caring and inspirational leader who will bring integrity and passion to this important work.”
Although the hope was for Polite to receive confirmation prior to the congressional August recess, Polite’s approval proceeded smoothly because U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., opted against blocking the confirmation.
Vitter offered his support, but still expressed concerns in June about Polite’s level of experience and his interest in focusing more on violent crime.
“Ken is a bright young guy, and I wish him all the best in this very challenging time for that office,” Vitter said at the time. “I remain concerned that that office really needs a more seasoned leader and supervisor to immediately stabilize it after its scandals, and that Ken’s focus on street crime will unintentionally take focus away from battling political corruption. I hope his service proves otherwise.”
Polite, a New Orleans native, was working at the Liskow & Lewis law firm, where he practiced law in business litigation, appellate advocacy, government investigations and white-collar criminal defense.
Before joining Liskow, Polite was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he served as lead counsel in numerous investigations and prosecutions of federal criminal offenses, including bribery, extortion, narcotics trafficking, money laundering and identity theft.
Polite also was serving as a state civil service commissioner.
Polite was named to the commission in early 2011 by Gov. Bobby Jindal. Polite was one of three recommendations made to the governor by Xavier University President Norman Francis.
This past year, Polite was critical of some of Jindal’s privatization and hospital layoff plans.
Polite is a graduate of Harvard University and the Georgetown University Law Center. He clerked for U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Thomas L. Ambro.
Polite was born to teenage parents and raised, early on, in the Calliope and Lafitte housing projects of New Orleans, and then in the Lower 9th Ward.
He went on to become the first African-American valedictorian of De La Salle High School in New Orleans before going to Harvard.