President Obama’s nominee to lead the Justice Department Tax Division received her first endorsement for the post in 2010 from an American Indian organization.
The All Indian Pueblo Council, a group representing 20 Pueblo Indian Nations in the Southwest, announced its support for Tax Division nominee Mary L. Smith, a member of the Cherokee Nation, in a letter to Senate leaders last week. This is the second time the Smith nomination has been before the Senate. She was first nominated early last year, but the full Senate never took up her confirmation.
“Ms. Smith is an accomplished litigator who has the skills to succeed as the head of the Tax Division,” All Indian Pueblo Council chairman Joe A. Garcia wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
The endorsement letter from the Pueblo council is the first that the Judiciary Committee has received since Smith was renominated last month.
Her nomination languished in the Senate for several months last year before it was returned to the White House on Dec. 24. Obama re-nominated her last month and she was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week on a party-line vote.
Republican senators have complained that Smith has virtually no tax law experience. Democrats have touted her past litigation work as an in-house counsel at Tyco International and as a DOJ trial attorney. We reported on Saturday that Smith has been appointed to the DOJ Civil Division pending the outcome of her nomination to lead the Tax Division.
The Senate Judiciary Committee received seven letters in support of Smith from American Indian organizations in 2009. If confirmed, Smith would be the first American Indian to serve as an Assistant Attorney General. Read our previous report on the support she has received from American Indians leaders here.
“In addition to her impressive legal credentials, Ms. Smith is also a dedicated member of the Native American community,” Garcia wrote in his letter. “Over her career, she has worked tirelessly to improve the visibility and access of Native Americans in the legal profession and to advance Native American civil rights.”
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