Although Heffelfinger insists he left voluntarily, it seems very likely he jumped before he was pushed.
We know the assistant U.S. attorneys he left behind are very unhappy working for Paulose. But, with the exception of a recent open letter complaining about Paulose, they haven't given the media any clues why Heffelfinger was removed and replaced with the boss from hell.
In every mystery, there's a motive.
Dahlia Lithwick at Slate explains the reason for what happened in U.S. Attorney offices across the country:
There is only one narrative that works with the facts. The White House wanted party loyalists placed in either key battleground states, or in states where Republicans were being investigated or they thought Democrats should have been.
If that's so, Heffelfinger should have been popular at the White House, because he successfully prosecuted Democrats such as former Minneapolis City Council members Brian Heron, Joe Biernat, and Loren Jennings, a former state representative.
With that motive in mind, let's take a look at some timelines and see if they point to an answer.
Ed Felein, the editor and publisher of Pulse of the Twin Cities published a timeline in his publication PULSE last week:
Sept. 16, 2005--"What did Dean do wrong?" by Ed Felien. Analysis of the "case" against [then] Minneapolis Council Member Dean Zimmerman.
Aug. 16, 2006--In the wake of "Zimmergate," commentator David Tilsen discusses how he believes former City Council Member Dean Zimmerman was set up, and Tilsen gives advice to anti-establishment leaders.
Zimmermann was anything but anti-establishment. Zimmermann was a one-stop-shop for political favors and corruption in Minneapolis.
Ed Felein is Zimmermann's friend and one of the few people in this town besides David Tilsen who defended Zimmermann in print after his conviction. For Felein and Tilsen, Heffelfinger is the villain. That is probably why the Pulse has ignored the scandal surrounding Paulose.
Another of Zimmermann's friends and supporters is Charley Underwood, the head of the DFL Progressive Caucus and a blogger at Mn Blue. Underwood, who has attacked Rep. Keith Ellison for what he perceives as a betrayal of the anti-war movement, has forgiven his friend Zimmmermann of any wrongdoing.
For Felein, Tilsen and Underwood, Heffelfinger, is the bad guy; a Bush appointee that investigated and indicted Zimmermann, their friend.
Eric Pusey at Mn Blue has posted a timeline of the U.S. Attorney scandal that avoids mentioning Heffelfinger's prosecution of Zimmermann.
One of the facts that Pusey states as reason for Heffelfinger's dismissal is that he was a "moderate".
But if Heffelfinger was a moderate, that would make him one of the good guys, right? Hefelfinger wasn't a "loyal Bushie" like Paulose. This is what Pusey thinks his timeline proves:
It's clear that Heffelfinger would not cooperate in 2008 when the Bush Administration would want some voter suppression to occur in urban, minority areas ... areas that would likely vote against Norm. The Bush Administration considers Minnesota a key battleground state. Hell, they're holding their convention here to help out Norm Coleman in his reelection bid. Rachel Paulose, a trusted neo-con, will do the Bush Administration's bidding unquestioningly, whatever it happens to be.
Pusey could be right. It's also possible that Heffelfinger's dismissal had something to do with the Abramoff scandal.
But, Zimmmermann's reported ties to at least two prominent Republican donors (and politicians) and his possible ties to others suggests that Heffelfinger chose to leave rather than face Monica Goodling's buzzsaw during the crucial 2006 election year.
What did the FBI find in the raid on Zimmemrmann's house in September of 2005?
Did they find e-mails to and from Republican donors and politicians on Zimmermann's hard drive?
Why won't Rachel Paulose release the FBI tapes shown in open court of Zimmermann accepting bribes from Gary Carlson? Is it because Carlson held a fundraiser for Senator Norm Coleman?
Read the Minneapolis Confidential Mn DOJ timeline and see what you think.