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Grassley, Sessions to Obama: DOJ Needs ‘Top Tax Cop’
By Andrew Ramonas | September 16, 2022 12:34 pm

Senate Republicans urged President Barack Obama to name a new nominee to lead the Justice Department Tax Division after the White House said it will not re-nominate its previous choice for the post.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement that the nominee should be “qualified to enforce our criminal tax laws and oversee complex tax cases, including tax shelter cases.” Mary L. Smith, whose nomination was returned twice by the Senate, faced stiff opposition from Republicans, who were concerned about her lack of tax law experience. She was a partner at the Schoeman, Updike & Kaufman LLP and former in-house counsel to Tyco International Ltd., the international security products and services conglomerate.

“There hasn’t been a top tax cop on the beat since the President took office,” Grassley said. “It raises questions of how serious the Administration is about tax fraud.”

The president initially nominated Smith for the post in April 2009. The Senate Judiciary Committee first approved her in June 2009 without any backing from Republicans, including Grassley, who sits on the panel. Her nomination was sent back to the White House for the first time in December. Obama re-nominated her in January, and she was reported out of committee again in February with no Republican support.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was glad the president did not re-nominate Smith, who is currently Senior Counsel to Assistant Attorney General Tony West of the Civil Division.

“The Tax Division chief has to have a judgment and experience in taxes — in my opinion — to decide various tough issues,” Sessions said Thursday.


One Comment

  1. Publius Novus says:

    The Tax Division is and always has been the poor stepchild of DOJ. Tax is almost always the last Main Justice division for which an AAG nominee is named. Republicans favor the Criminal Division and the USAOs, while Democrats favor Civil Rights and ENR. The AAG position is far less prestigious than the chief legal officer of Tax’s client agency, the IRS. The result is that Tax AAG nominees generally are underqualified. This has been the pattern for the last 40 or so years, and why it is suddenly an issue with Sens. Grassley and Sessions is something of a mystery (not). Bush 43’s nominee (confirmed) was an accountant with NO litigation experience of any kind prior to her appointment. Clinton’s nominee (confirmed) was a totally unqualified academic with neither management nor litigation experience. Bush 41’s nominee (confirmed) was an estate planner with NO litigation experience. And so on back through the years. The President would do better to look within the Division and appoint a careerist. There are at least 15 good candidates among the Division’s corps of managers, including the superbly qualified career lawyer serving as Acting AAG right now.

"I'm a Verizon customer, it doesn't bother me one bit for the National Security Administration to have my phone number." -- Sen. Lindsey Graham said regarding the revelation that NSA has been collecting records from millions of Verizon customers for seven years.