Zachary Fardon likely Chicago’s next U.S. attorney; Lightfoot is out
BY LYNN SWEET Washington Bureau Chief March 17, 2013 3:10PM
Zachary Fardon | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times files
Updated: April 19, 2013 6:25AM
Zachary Fardon — who prosecuted former Gov. George Ryan — is likely to be nominated by President Barack Obama for the U.S. Attorney spot in Chicago, with chief rival Lori Lightfoot out of the running, sources told the Sun-Times on Sunday.
Lightfoot, a partner at Mayer Brown and a former federal prosecutor, had been informed she was no longer a candidate, sources with knowledge of the selection process say.
Fardon, a partner at Latham & Watkins, is also a former federal prosecutor. He prosecuted Ryan and his chief of staff, Scott Fawell. Fardon could not be reached for comment.
A White House official told the Sun-Times on Sunday that “nothing is a done deal at this point.” In any event, an announcement is not imminent, the source said — with any official word at least two weeks away and maybe more.
If nominated and confirmed by the Senate, Fardon, raised in Tennessee, with a Southern manner about him, would be a contrast to the man he would be replacing, the Brooklyn bred Patrick Fitzgerald.
Fardon, an acquaintance said Sunday, “has a very down-home way” with a “Jimmy Stewart manner about him.”
Obama’s team has been vetting potential contenders for the job, vacated last summer by Fitzgerald, now at partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Chicago.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) ran a bi-partisan search committee and sent the White House four names for consideration last September, since whittled to two, Lightfoot and Fardon.
The four — Fardon, Lightfoot, Jonathan Bunge and Gil Soffer — are all partners in Chicago law firms with experience as federal prosecutors in Chicago.
The search was started last July. The timing is up to the White House, which has been vetting, or investigating the prospects before Obama taps a nominee.
After that, the next step is for the nomination to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee — of which Durbin is a member. From the time Obama sends a nominee to the committee to confirmation could take between two and four months.
Fardon specialized in public corruption cases as federal prosecutor in Chicago and Tennessee, including the Ryan and Fawell cases. Fardon handled civil and criminal cases while working for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville.
At Latham & Watkins, Fardon chairs the Chicago litigation department. He specializes in white-collar crime defense, business litigation and internal investigations.
Federal Election Commission records showed Fardon, an Evanston resident, donated $2,000 to the Democratic primary Senate campaign of attorney David Hoffman, who lost his 2010 primary bid to Alexi Giannoulias.
Fardon received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University in 1988 and his law degree from the same school in 1992. He teaches trial advocacy at Northwestern’s Law School.
His board memberships include the Legal Aid Society; A Better Chicago and the Metropolitan Family Service.
Lightfoot is a former federal prosecutor in Chicago and former chief administrator at the Chicago Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. She was the only woman and minority on the list.
Since Fitzgerald’s departure, the interim U.S. attorney has been Gary Shapiro, who was Fitzgerald’s second-in-command.
Contributing: Fran Spielman, Natasha Korecki and Kim Janssen