On Thursday, September 25, the United States Department of Justice announced that Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States of America, would be resigning as soon as a successor was confirmed. Holder has been the Attorney General since 2009, when he took over the Department of Justice’s top position from Michael Mukasey. Holder has been a proponent of the False Claims Act, overseeing the largest recoveries in FCA history and recently pushing for larger rewards to whistleblowers under FIRREA (a whistleblower act specifically addressing financial institutions and Wall Street). Under Holder’s leadership, the Department of Justice has recovered more than $20 billion from False Claims Act cases, with more than $14 billion of that from healthcare cases.
The position of Attorney General is tremendously important to the False Claims Act industry because, as the nation’s top prosecutor, the Attorney General is ultimately responsible for all decisions of the Department of Justice. It is imperative that Holder’s successor values the contributions of False Claims Act whistleblowers and continues to dedicate Department of Justice resources to prosecuting these cases. False Claims Act cases are undeniably stronger when the government intervenes and pushes the litigation forward, so the strength of future cases will depend largely on the priorities of the next Attorney General.
Many names have been thrown around as successor options, including apparent front-runners Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Solicitor General Don Verrilli, former White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. The ultimate choice, however, is up to President Barack Obama and he has not yet named his top choice. Once President Obama nominates an individual as Holder’s successor, he or she will face a rigorous confirmation hearing by Congress. With midterm elections looming in November and a possible change in the Senate and House majorities, it is likely – though not certain – that President Obama will make the nomination before November.
As the field of potential candidates narrows, we will follow the story and post our findings on each potential nominee’s False Claims Act background. We are very hopeful that the next Attorney General will see as much success and forward-movement in the False Claims Act as Holder has during his tenure.