Thomas B. Heffelfinger

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Thomas B. Heffelfinger (b. 1948) is an attorney in private practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota from 1991 to 1993 and from 2001 to 2006. He served as assistant U.S. Attorney from 1982 to 1988 and assistant Hennepin County Attorney from 1976 to 1982.[1]

Early life[edit]

Heffelfinger received his B.A. from Stanford University in 1970, and his J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1975.

Legal career[edit]

U.S. Attorney[edit]

Indian Affairs[edit]

Investigation of the shooting deaths of 10 people at a school at the Red Lake Indian Reservation on March 21, 2005, absorbed much of his time in the subsequent 11 months.[2]

Dismissal of U.S. Attorneys controversy[edit]

Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy

Heffelfinger resigned on February 28, 2006, for personal reasons, and he was replaced by Rachel Paulose.[3] The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that it was unusual that "the former U.S. attorney for Minnesota, Thomas Heffelfinger, was not invited" to Paulose's swearing-in ceremony. Paulose's spokesperson, Jeanne Cooney, said, "It was a public event. Anybody who wanted to go could have gone."[4] The article speculates that Heffelfinger, a moderate Republican, could have been a candidate for dismissal had he not stepped aside to make way for a more conservative candidate.

Heffelfinger was angry at the Department of Justice for targeting him for dismissal[5] because of his preoccupation with Indian affairs issues.[6] Heffelfinger strongly defended that work: "The fact that some allegedly responsible official or officials in Washington at main Justice now believe that I should have been removed for spending too much time focused on the public safety of Native Americans is outrageous, and it's shameful."[7]

Circumstantial evidence suggests that Heffelfinger was targeted for dismissal as a consequence of his positions on tribal voting in Minnesota.[8] Heffelfinger's appearance on potential dismissal lists at the Department of Justice apparently fits a pattern associating the dismissed attorneys and voting issues.[9] The names of Bradley Schlozman and Hans A. von Spakovsky also appear in this case;[8] Schlozman was a central figure in a voting and elections controversy in Missouri.

Private practice[edit]

After his resignation as U.S. Attorney, Heffelfinger was hired by the law firm Best and Flanagan, where he focuses on white-collar criminal defense and American Indian law.[1]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Vomhof Jr., John (June 5, 2006). "Best & Flanagan hires former U.S. Attorney". Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 2007-06-03.
  2. ^ "U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger resigns". Minnesota Public Radio. 2006-02-14. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
  3. ^ Rosario, Ruben (2007-04-07). "Prosecutor's office loses its way". Pioneer Press. Media News Group Inc. Retrieved 2007-06-03.
  4. ^ Coleman, Nick (2007-03-31). "Nick Coleman: If Heffelfinger hadn't quit, would he have been purged?". Star Tribune (Minneapolis - Saint Paul). Star Tribune Company. Archived from the original on 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
  5. ^ [1] Monica Goodling Testimony to Congress
  6. ^ Black, Eric (June 1, 2007). "Heffelfinger slams Justice Department". Star Tribune (Minneapolis - Saint Paul). Star Tribune Company. Archived from the original on May 26, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-02.
  7. ^ Gurnon, Emily (May 24, 2007). "Minnesota U.S. Attorney Firings / Heffelfinger defends work". Pioneer Press. Media News Group Inc. Retrieved 2007-06-03.
  8. ^ a b Tom Hamburger (May 31, 2007). "Justice undone? Some say U.S. attorney targeted for protecting American Indian votes". Los Angeles Times.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Hamburger, Tom (May 31, 2007). "Minnesota case fits the pattern in flap over firing of U.S. attorneys: A prosecutor apparently targeted for firing had supported Native American voters' rights". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-06-03.