Thomas Anderson: a Republican’s appreciation for Senator Leahy

This commentary is from Thomas Anderson, former Vermont Public Safety Commissioner (appointed by Governor Scott) and former Vermont United States Attorney (appointed by President Bush). He now lives in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Senator Patrick Leahy’s recent announcement made me reflect on his legacy and many years of service to Vermont and to the nation. Until recent events, I considered myself a longtime Republican. Although I now consider myself an independent, I still strongly believe in limited government, self-reliance, public safety and free enterprise.

Although there are many issues on which I disagree with Senator Leahy, over the years I have come to admire and respect him. His departure from the Senate will be a loss for Vermont.

I have been appointed by President Bush to be the United States attorney for Vermont. One of the preconditions for Senate confirmation was a meeting with Senator Leahy, who had the power to derail any presidential nomination.

Needless to say, I was extremely nervous about meeting Senator Leahy. I shouldn’t have been. He greeted me warmly and our hour-long conversation flew away. Senator Leahy asked me about my wife, my children, my parents and my siblings. He was particularly and genuinely interested in learning more about my foster brother and sister, whom my parents adopted from an orphanage in Macau. It meant a lot to me and to my parents.

The senator also shared some of his photos and accounts of the myriad of trips he has taken over the years. When I tried to steer the conversation to the United States Attorney’s Office, the senator told me that, based on my background and experience as a state and federal prosecutor, he was convinced that I would be honorably United States attorney for Vermont.

I always did my best not to let it down.

Anyway, as I left the meeting, I had a new respect for Senator Leahy and I had little doubt that I would be confirmed as a United States attorney.

During my tenure as a United States lawyer, Senator Leahy has always been very supportive and has never attempted to interfere or influence any matter brought before our office.

He went to the office with FBI Director Robert Mueller to personally meet and thank the investigators and prosecutors who had successfully arrested and charged the killer of 13-year-old Brooke Bennett. Even when he sharply criticized the Bush administration for firing a number of US lawyers across the country, he never once directed his anger at me or the US attorney’s office in Vermont. I have always been grateful for it.

As the State of Vermont Public Safety Commissioner, I have been fortunate enough to work closely with Senator Leahy on a number of issues, from disaster relief to police funding. the State of Vermont. His office also helped me get the Justice Department to release grants that had been compromised by the Trump administration. He has been a true partner in these efforts

As Vermont poet Robert Frost wrote in his poem “Two Tramps in Mud Time”: “My purpose in life is to unite my vocation with my vocation, for my two eyes are one.

Senator Leahy is one of those fortunate enough to have achieved this goal and Vermont was the beneficiary. Thank you and Godspeed, Senator Leahy.

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