Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans on Thursday unanimously opposed Mary L. Smith’s nomination to head the Tax Division at the Department of Justice. Smith’s nomination was reported out of committee along party lines, by a vote of 12 to 7. Republicans complained that she had virtually no tax experience. Read our previous coverage here and here.
It isn’t clear why Smith, a Chicago lawyer who served in the Clinton White House counsel’s office, was nominated for the job. She is a former in-house counsel at Tyco International but has no prosecuting experience.
“Tax law is very specialized,” said Ranking Member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) ” It is not an area where you learn on the job.”
But it’s evident she was slated for this job for a long time — Smith led the Obama DOJ transition team work on the Tax Division, which is a springboard into the job. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Smith was the “worst choice” that President Obama has made so far on nominations.
“She is inherently unqualified for this job,” Coburn said.
Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) stood behind Smith at the meeting saying she is a “well qualified and distinguished woman.” She also received the support of former prosecutor Nathan Hochman, the Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division at the end of the Bush administration, and former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson.