The Department of Justice released a statement today in response to a query from the National Law Journal about a story we’ve followed closely here at Main Justice: Republican objections to Tax Division nominee Mary L. Smith’s qualifications. You can read our previous coverage here and here and here.
The DOJ statement, which was also released to Main Justice at our request, reiterates Smith’s experience as a litigator and securities lawyer. It doesn’t differ much from the written responses Smith already gave to Senate Judiciary Committee members after her confirmation hearing last month.
Here is the DOJ statement in its entirety:
Mary Smith is an accomplished litigator who has the skills to succeed as
the head of the Tax Division. Given her substantial litigation and
management experience, Smith would be a significant asset to the Tax
Division. It is true that she is not a traditional tax lawyer or a tax
specialist. However, Smith has extensive experience in financial
litigation, both for and against the government. The Tax Division is
not a policymaking entity – it enforces the federal tax laws and defends
the United States when it is sued by taxpayers seeking refunds for taxes
that have been paid. For this reason, the Assistant Attorney General
for the Tax Division needs first and foremost to be a person with
significant litigation experience, preferably experience in tax,
corporate or financial litigation.
Smith began her career in the Department of Justice’s Civil Division,
litigating in the Commercial Branch, which defends the United States in
contract cases and sues to recover monies in situations where the
government had been defrauded. She was a securities lawyer at Skadden
Arps, a premier New York firm, where she focused on securities
litigation and internal investigations. In her role at Tyco, Smith
dealt with tax issues on a regular basis, interacting with the tax
department on a range of issues including employee benefits and
strategic issues involving litigation and the company’s corporate
reorganization. She also served on the DOJ Transition team, focusing on
civil issues, including the Tax Division.