In Short

Biden picks federal prosecutor Natalie Wight for Oregon’s next U.S. Attorney

By: - June 6, 2022 4:38 pm

Upper portion of Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in Portland. (Steve Morgan/Wikimedia Commons)

President Joe Biden on Monday nominated Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalie Wight to become Oregon’s top federal prosecutor.

Natalie Wight (U.S. Department of Justice)

Wight was one of seven applicants and three finalists for the position, which requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate. If confirmed, she’ll direct 107 employees who prosecute federal criminal cases, defend the U.S. government in civil cases and collect debts owed to the federal government.

She has been an assistant U.S. attorney in Oregon since 2012 and did the same job in the Northern District of California from 2008 to 2012, according to the White House. Wight previously worked as an attorney for the  Federal Bureau of Prisons from 2003 to 2008. 

She received her law degree from the University of Notre Dame in 2003 and also holds a master’s degree from California State University and a bachelor’s degree from the College of Idaho.

U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden said they strongly supported her nomination. 

“She brings an outstanding combination of leadership, integrity, independence and community connections to this crucial post,” they said. “We look forward to advancing her through the Senate confirmation process.”

Wight specialized in investigating child exploitation cases, according to a memo from former U.S. Attorney Billy Williams. This year alone, three Oregon men she prosecuted for sex trafficking, child exploitation and child pornography were sentenced to between 8 and 27 years in prison, according to press releases from the U.S. attorney’s office. 

U.S. attorneys serve four-year terms. Scott Asphaug, a former Multnomah County deputy county attorney who joined the federal Justice Department in 2005, has been the acting attorney since February 2021. Williams, who served for six years, was among many Trump appointees pushed out after Biden took office. 

Merkley and Wyden also advanced Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel and civil litigator Vivek Kothari, a former federal prosecutor, as finalists. Other applicants for the job included Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Huynh, Vamshi Reddy, general counsel at the RISE Partnership in Portland and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Sowray. 

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Julia Shumway
Julia Shumway

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.