Two days into his new gig as US Attorney and Dave Freed was working through a briefing book several inches thick behind his new desk in Harrisburg’s Federal Building.
“It’s the size of the operation, the scope of what I have to get my head around before I feel comfortable,” said Freed who was Cumberland County’s District Attorney for 12 years. “It is pretty formidable.”
Freed said he’s begun to get briefings on cases. Instead of focusing on one county, he’s now overseeing 43 attorneys and three offices in 33 counties that cut a swath through the middle of the state. He has the largest geographical federal district in Pennsylvania, but the smallest in population with 3.1 million residents. He’s confident his time in Cumberland County has prepared him well.
“If I didn’t think I could do it I would not have sought it,” Freed said. “I think I’ll be able to do it and do it well but I know what I don’t know and I’m looking forward to learning that.”
Freed said he threw his hat in the ring after Donald Trump won the presidency. The Donald, who Freed never met, ultimately nominated him. US Senators Pat Toomey (R) and Bob Casey (D) signed off on the nomination and he was confirmed by the full senate. He called the process exhaustive, with in-depth background checks and several interviews. Freed understands the political nature of his post and knows if Trump loses his next election Freed’s job will be a casualty.
“I will, when I walk out of here, have great experience. I think I have a solid resume that can stack up and I feel pretty good about my chances. I’d be lying if I told you I know what I’m going to do next because I don’t.”
But next is at least three years away, and possibly four more after that.
Being sworn in Monday was a career victory for Freed. A success that he says wouldn’t have been possible had he not suffered an electoral defeat. Freed was soundly beaten by Kathleen Kane in the race for attorney general in 2012.
“That gave me such a great chance to meet people, to see the district,” Freed said. “It gave me a knowledge of not just the state but the district in particular.”
As Kane’s tenure as AG crashed and burned, Freed was given numerous opportunities to criticize his former opponent and gloat at her circumstances. He never did.
“After that, I did what I said I was gonna do, put my head down, go back to work, be President of the DA’s association and continue to do my job as a district attorney,” Freed said.
It’s a bigger job but not a bigger paycheck. US Attorney Freed will make about $161,000 which is roughly $20,000 less than District Attorney Freed. But the Camp Hill High School graduate calls it a dream job and says he can’t wait to immerse himself.
“It’s a job for somebody who’s been in prosecution world to move up to big cases to move up to federal cases with a wider footprint,” he said.