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Government

West Virginia Sen. William Ihlenfeld, Judge William Thompson Among Biden’s Latest Picks For U.S. Attorney

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Will Price
/
West Virginia Legislative Photography

President Joe Biden has nominated West Virginia State Sen. William Ihlenfeld, D-Ohio, to once again serve as the top federal prosecutor in the northern part of the state. The White House announced the nomination in a Tuesday news release, along with picks for seven other prosecutor positions.

Ihlenfeld — elected to the West Virginia Senate in 2018 — is an attorney with a long history as a prosecutor in the region. Before first serving as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District from 2010 to 2016, he also held the positions of assistant prosecuting attorney in Brooke County and chief assistant prosecuting attorney in Ohio County.

With state Senate terms lasting four years, Ihlenfeld’s seat is set to expire following the 2022 mid-term election. Ihlenfeld declined an interview with West Virginia Public Broadcasting, citing a desire for the confirmation process to play out in the U.S. Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, congratulated Ihlenfeld on the nomination and said Ihlenfeld would continue to serve in the Legislature throughout the confirmation process, which is expected to take months.

“Bill brings a sharp mind, a tender heart and a tenacious work ethic to bear on every task before him. While we are sad to lose him as a member of the West Virginia Senate, our loss is a gain for the state of West Virginia and the American people,” Baldwin said.

Ihlenfeld currently serves on the West Virginia Senate’s Banking and Insurance, Economic Development, Energy, Industry and Mining, Finance, Government Organization and Interstate Cooperation committees.

Other Democrats in the West Virginia Legislature’s upper chamber congratulated Ihlenfeld on his likely return as a federal prosecutor.

“President Biden’s nominationation of Bill comes as no surprise in light of his exemplary performance as U.S. Attorney,” said Senate Minority Whip Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell. “The state Senate will miss Bill’s wit and intellect. We wish him the best.”

Should Ihlenfeld leave his seat in the West Virginia Senate before the end of his term, Gov. Jim Justice would pick another Democrat to fill the vacancy based on nominations from local party officials.

In addition to Ihlenfeld’s nomination, the president also picked Circuit Judge William S. Thompson to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia.

In the 25th Circuit, which covers Boone and Lincoln Counties, Thompson currently presides over several treatment courts, including the first family treatment court in West Virginia, according to the news release from the White House. Prior to his appointment, he was an associate at the law firm of Cook and Cook in Madison from 1995 to 2007. Thompson also made a failed bid for Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in a 2018 special election.

Law enforcement officials in the 25th Circuit, including Boone County Sheriff Chad Barker, applauded Thompson’s nomination.

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Judge Thompson for over 25 years. “He is a man of great integrity and of strong moral values,” Barker said. “Thompson has used his time on the bench here in Boone County piloting new programs and being the face of alternative measures, always trying to make a difference. There is no doubt in my mind he will hit the ground running in this new position and begin making a difference immediately”.


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