Kees to resign as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 2,044 views 

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas Duane “Dak” Kees is resigning the post after just a little over two years in the role. Kees, a former Walmart attorney overseeing global ethics and anti-corruption, is leaving the office to return to private practice.

His resignation is effective at midnight Friday (Jan. 17). The statement from Kees’ office did not say where he would return to private practice.

Kees’ nomination was approved by the U.S. Senate on Dec. 20, 2017, and he took the oath of office Jan. 5, 2018. Prior to that, Kees worked four years with Walmart. Kees earned his law degree at the University of Arkansas, and 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 Bentonville-based Asa Hutchinson Law Group.

Kees filled the post made vacant in 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.

“During his tenure as United States Attorney, Mr. Kees served on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and was chair of the Veterans’ Rights Subcommittee,” noted a statement from Kees’ office. “Mr. Kees was responsible for opening a newly staffed office in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The Hot Springs office has enabled the United States Attorney’s Office to better serve the communities and counties in Southern Arkansas.”

U.S. Attorney Duane ‘Dak’ Kees speaks in a press conference following the sentencing of former Sen. Jon Woods, R-Springdale.

Following are other Kees’ accomplishments, provided by the office, during his tenure.
• He oversaw the prosecution of several public corruption cases, including United States v. Jonathan Woods. Jonathan Woods, a former Arkansas State Senator, was convicted in 2018 of conspiracy, honest services mail and wire fraud and money laundering and was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison.
• He oversaw the prosecution of many violent armed criminals under the Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) initiative and child abusers under the Project Safe Childhood (PSC) initiative. Both of these initiatives were instrumental in prosecuting some of the most serious criminal offenses in the Western District of Arkansas.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) Western District of Arkansas includes 34 counties stretching from Texarkana and El Dorado to Fayetteville and Fort Smith. It is responsible for representing the federal government in virtually all litigation for this district. This includes criminal prosecutions for violations of federal law, civil lawsuits by and against the government, and actions to collect judgments and restitution on behalf of victims and taxpayers.

U.S. Sens. John Boozman, and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., praised Kees’ service.

“Dak Kees has served with honor and distinction as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas,” Boozman said in a note to Talk Business & Politics. “His commitment to the rule of law made our communities safer, and I especially appreciated his work to confront the over prescription of opioids that has fueled the epidemic we are experiencing. I am grateful for his public service and wish him luck in his future endeavors.”

“Dak Kees has served Arkansas well as U.S. attorney and has been a champion for victims’ rights. I wish him the best in his future endeavors and appreciate his service,” Cotton said.