OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The White House has withdrawn the nomination of an Oklahoma federal judge, whose appointment to a seat on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals drew scrutiny after conflict-of-interest allegations surfaced.
U.S. District Judge James H. Payne requested the nomination be withdrawn, officials said Tuesday. Payne couldn't be reached for comment, the Washington bureaus of The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World reported in Wednesday's editions.
President Bush nominated the 65-year-old for the position in September. In January, an article by online magazine, Salon.com, alleged that Payne violated federal law by failing to recuse himself from cases involving companies in which he owns stock.
Those companies included SBC Communications, Wal-Mart and Pfizer.
According to reports, that accusation caught the attention of staff members on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Payne was expected to be questioned about them at some point.
Last month, the American Bar Association lowered its rating of Payne from unanimously well qualified to qualified, with a minority deeming him not qualified.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Payne a "great Oklahoman and public servant who would have served honorably on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals."
Coburn said it is "wrong that in our modern judicial confirmation process, allegations can be enough to derail the most qualified nominee before they receive a fair hearing. The withdrawal of this nomination will only discourage other admirable and qualified people from serving."
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said he hasn't spoken with Payne or the White House about the nomination.
"I was disappointed to find out that there are things that the White House discovered that they thought were negative to the point where he was no longer one they wanted to accept," Inhofe said. "We have been fighting this battle for a long time."
Since 2001, Payne has been a judge for Oklahoma's eastern district, based in Muskogee, and the northern district, based in Tulsa. Before that, he served several years as a U.S. magistrate.
Payne, who was to have filled a vacancy created when veteran Judge Stephanie Seymour decided to step down, hasn't issued a public response to the report.