BALCO Prosecutor Is Out

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US Attorney Kevin Ryan, whose office oversees the San Francisco Bay Area and made headlines for the BALCO steroids case and the stock backdating scandal, is stepping down, according to today's Wall Street Journal (fee required). Ryan has come under heat recently because of the mass exodus of experienced federal prosecutors from his office in the past few years. In the East Bay, Ryan's office also oversaw the federal public corruption probe of state Senate boss Don Perata and the FBI investigations of Oakland City Hall. Ryan's spokesman Luke MacAulay did not immediately return a phone call for comment.

The Bush administration intends to replace Ryan with an interim US attorney, thereby bypassing Senate confirmation, according to the national political blog TPMMuckraker.com. It's unclear whether the administration is forcing Ryan out, or whether he's leaving on his own accord. Regardless, Senate Democrats, led by Dianne Feinstein, are angry about the administration's decision to replace at least seven US attorneys around the country with interims and not send new nominees to Capitol Hill for confirmation.

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