Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) on Saturday chose a former federal prosecutor to help him battle federal charges that he corruptly profited from his seat of power on Capitol Hill.
In a statement in which he again proclaimed his innocence and vowed to mount "a vigorous and compelling defense," Rostenkowski said he had selected Chicago attorney Dan K. Webb to direct that effort.
Webb, who was U.S. attorney for the northern district of Illinois from 1981 to 1985, will replace Washington defense lawyer Robert S. Bennett on the highly publicized and politically charged case.
Bennett is said to have advised Rostenkowski to accept a plea bargain with federal prosecutors in which he would have pleaded guilty to a felony, resigned from Congress and served at least a limited prison sentence.
But Rostenkowski, who temporarily stepped down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee after his indictment on 17 felony counts last week, made clear he had no intention of accepting such a deal. He said he had instructed Webb "to challenge the government's case at every turn."
Webb, chairman of the litigation committee of the Chicago law firm of Winston & Strawn, was once part of the special prosecutor team investigating the Iran-Contra affair.
While serving as U.S. attorney, he prosecuted 10 Chicago police officers who were convicted of taking bribes to protect drug trafficking.