A Wal-Mart attorney overseeing global ethics and anti-corruption is at least one name forwarded to the White House for consideration to be the next U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.
Duane “Dak” Kees, director of global ethics governance, anti-corruption at Wal-Mart Stores, has been with the retailer since 2014. He began his legal career with the U.S. Army. His service included a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan and a 15-month deployment to Iraq. He was awarded two Bronze Stars during the deployments.
Kees also worked as an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law (July 2013-June 2014), and between October 2009 and July 2013 was a partner in the Asa Hutchinson Law Group.
One of his duties in the Army included prosecuting military felonies and federal court cases “ranging from drug distribution and sexual assault to murder,” according to his LinkedIn page. At Wal-Mart, his primary job is dealing with corruption allegations and alleged violations of the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
Bentonville-based Wal-Mart has spent more than $837 million since 2012 to respond to the allegations and to beef up its compliance protocols. It’s been rumored that the retailer is close to a $300 million settlement of the matter.
Three sources have told Talk Business & Politics that Kees is a nominee for the post vacant since August 2015 when Connor Eldridge resigned. Eldridge would soon after announce his bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., in the 2016 general election. Boozman would defeat Eldridge with 59.7% of the vote.
Kenneth Elser has served as acting U.S. Attorney for the district since August 2015.
Nominations for the politically-appointed post are sent by the state’s U.S. Senators to the White House for vetting and approval. Such approval includes background checks by the Department of Justice.
The office of U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., declined to say who was nominated, only saying that, “Senator Boozman has submitted nominations to the White House for federally appointed positions in Arkansas,” and added later, “Senator Boozman’s office will not confirm any names for federal positions submitted to the White House.” In early May, the office of U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said the process is underway to name the next U.S. Prosecuting Attorney.
“The Administration is amidst its process to fill those U.S. Attorney slots and others. We’ll continue to work with them throughout the process,” noted a statement from Dylan Haney with Cotton’s office.
Boozman’s office said an announcement about a nominee “is at the discretion of the White House.”
Talk Business & Politics made two attempts to get comment from the White House. Wal-Mart confirmed only that Kees is an employee. Several attempts by Talk Business & Politics to contact Kees were unsuccessful.
Arkansas’ western federal judicial district includes 34 of the state’s 75 counties and stretches from El Dorado and Texarkana in the south, up through Fort Smith and into Northwest Arkansas. Fort Smith serves as the base office for the district. According to the Department of Justice website, the district has 19 attorneys and 18 support staff.
“The office is responsible for the prosecution of federal criminal statutes for all of The Western District of Arkansas, from acts of terrorism to public corruption, white-collar crime, organized crime and gang activities, internet-related crimes, drug importation through Western Arkansas, and many other criminal acts,” according to the Department of Justice website. “The Office also is charged, through its Civil Division, with defending agencies of the United States, enforcing regulatory agencies’ authority, and recovering funds from violators of U.S. criminal, regulatory, and civil laws.”