No one is saying yet who may be in line to become U.S. attorney for Utah after the resignation Monday of Brent Ward.
But the name on top of most lists of speculation is Dee Benson, a Utahn who is the top aide to Deputy Attorney General Hal Christensen, the Salt Laker who is the No. 2 man in the Justice Department. Benson is also a former administrative assistant to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.President Bush will technically fill the position, but presidents normally depend on U.S. senators from the various states to recommend a U.S. attorney for their area.
And because Hatch is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which holds confirmation hearings on such appointments, whoever he wants would probably be nominated.
But Hatch would not speculate Monday on whom that may be. Instead, he simply issued a statement praising Ward as "an outstanding law-and-order U.S. attorney" and said "his crusade in court against dial-a-porn companies, pornography and illegal drugs have gained for him national recognition and respect."
Benson said in a recent interview before Ward's resignation that he has talked with Hatch about job possibilities that may be available when and if Christensen leaves his job - which is expected to happen within a few months, possibly next summer. Benson was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
Benson - an identical twin brother of Deseret News Sports Editor Lee Benson - said he would be interested in working as either the U.S. attorney for Utah or as one of nine or so assistant attorneys general in the Justice Department if they became available.
Aides in Hatch's office have told the Deseret News they believe Benson would be one of the top candidates for the U.S. attorney for Utah job.
Benson has had a long, close relationship with Hatch. He was Hatch's chief of staff from 1986 to 1987, and before that was Hatch's special counsel to the Judiciary Committee. Before working for Hatch, he worked for Christensen's Salt Lake City law firm of Snow, Christensen and Martineau.
Benson left Hatch's staff to work for Christensen in the Justice Department last summer.