As noted earlier, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is alleging -- backed up by pretty credible evidence -- that Obama's nominee for Solicitor of Labor, Patricia Smith, lied to the Senate about some controversial dealings with unions. Enzi wants her name withdrawn. With a cloture vote on her nomination likely to happen this afternoon, Enzi just delivered a blistering floor speech condemning Smith that concludes as follows:
It’s clear that Ms. Smith’s testimony and responses to follow-up questions are repeatedly contradicted by documents I received from the State of New York. It is particularly troubling that the inconsistent statements to the Committee were in each instance an attempt to downplay the concerns about the Wage and Hour Watch program raised by Republican members. At best, the inconsistencies in her testimony lead me to question her ability to interact with Congress in a candid manner and manage the enforcement of labor laws by the Office of Solicitor in an even-handed and fair manner.
I have tried for months to resolve these concerns. In August, I asked President Obama to withdraw Ms. Smith’s nomination, and offered my assistance in ensuring a replacement would be confirmed quickly. I also joined all of my nine Republican colleagues on the HELP Committee in urging Chairman Harkin to refrain from approving this nominee in Committee and made the same offer to him of assistance in ensuring a qualified replacement is given a swift review and confirmation.
Because the President and the majority did not consider it a problem that Ms. Smith provided factually inconsistent information to the Senate, I am forced to insist on a full debate on her nomination.
Giving my consent to a Presidential nominee isn’t something I take lightly, and even with the benefit of the doubt I have always given to the candidates sent over to us by the White House. However, the integrity of the Senate committee process and the responsibility of advice and consent demands honest and accurate testimony from the witnesses that come before us.
For these reasons, I have lost confidence in Ms. Smith’s ability to manage the Solicitor’s office. I urge my colleagues to oppose this nomination and ask unanimous consent that the documents referenced in my speech be included in the record. I yield the floor.
The question is now where is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell? Given the evidence that Enzi has marshaled here, shouldn't the Republican leadership back him up in his attempt to block Smith's nomination? I've called McConnell's office twice today to get a statement on Smith's nomination and so far they have offered no response.
Obama nominee may have lied to Congress, but she may slip through on Monday before Scott Brown is seated
Patricia Smith, President Obama's nominee for Solicitor of Labor, appears to have lied to Congress, according to e-mails released from during her tenure as Commissioner of the New York State Labor Department. As Daniel Halper explains over at The Weekly Standard,
Smith has lied about her involvement with the Wage and Hour Watch program -- five times telling senators that she had no intention to expand the program to the entire state (leaving it localized in New York City), but later emails and other documents revealed that she did indeed plan to expand the program throughout the entire state of New York.
Senate Labor ranking member Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., has asked that Smith's nomination be withdrawn.
Halper's post reproduces two memos on Smith that Republicans are circulating on Capitol Hill. The Wage Watch program was an effort to deputize unions to detect illegal employment practices -- for example, by confronting and interviewing employees as they leave work, or even while they are on the job.
Beyond the issue of the expansion of Wage Watch, Smith also appears to have misled Congress as regards the involvement of outside labor groups in developing the program. She had been asked about this during her confirmation hearing by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.:
Senator Burr. But you reached out to individuals and groups to help craft the specifics of---- Ms. Smith. Actually, no, Senator, we did not. This was an internally crafted group. It was only after we sat down and crafted it ourselves that we reached out to groups to see if they would be interested.
But the e-mails obtained through New York's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) suggest otherwise. Outside groups were being consulted as early as April 2008, and played a key role in developing the program. Smith herself was copied on e-mails discussing the program with these groups as early as November 2008. The program was announced publicly in January 2009, and Enzi's memo contends that the businesses affected weren't even allowed a meeting with Smith until March.
Smith's actions with respect to this program seem to show she has a heavy bias toward labor and against business -- no big surprise, perhaps, considering who is appointing her. But why she would mislead or even directly lie to Congress about any of this is a bit odd. Even when given the opportunity to revise her testimony in written questions, Smith stuck to a story that does not seem consistent with the paper-trail.
On Monday, Smith will get a cloture vote in the Senate. With Scott Brown waiting at least another week to be seated in the Senate, there is a chance her nomination will slide right through.
AND ON THAT NOTE, WHY IS HIS SEATING TAKING SO LONG, KIRK IS STILL VOTING ON ITEMS. THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS.