Tag: Obama cabinet

Immigration NewsLatino

Solís Confirmation Hits Another Snag: Obama's Cabinet Could End Up With Only One Latino Member

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

While her would-be successors are already lining up in Los Angeles, the confirmation of U.S. Rep. Hilda Solís as the next secretary of labor has been held up in the Senate, apparently due to her husband’s tax problems.

AP)

Hilda Solís (Photo: USA Today/AP)

As Feet In 2 Worlds noted in December, Solís was one of the three big hopes for Latinos who are looking for greater representation in Pres. Barack Obama’s cabinet. Of the other two, former Sen. Ken Salazar, the new secretary of the interior, is the only one who has been confirmed. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew his name from consideration as secretary of commerce over a federal investigation into his administration’s dealings with a consulting company.

Solís, the 51-year-old daughter of a Mexican father and a Nicaraguan mother, is the latest Obama nominee to have to explain unpaid taxes — although the problem does not arise from her own taxes, unlike the cases of Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, and the former nominees for secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, and White House chief performance officer, Nancy Killefer.

The would-be labor official’s problems started after USA Today revealed Thursday there were 15 outstanding tax liens against Sam’s Foreign and Domestic Auto Center, a company owned by Solís’ husband, Sam Sayyad. A hearing by the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee was postponed Thursday afternoon to give the administration time to look into the tax matter and report back to the committee, according to the newspaper.

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Latino

Richardson Withdraws From Obama Cabinet And Latino Representation Now Looks Slim

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

Richardson and Obama.

Unless another Latino is nominated to be secretary of commerce, Bill Richardson’s exit will leave Latino cabinet representation in the Obama administration at the same level as the Clinton and Bush administrations.

The New Mexico Governor, and would-be highest-profile Latino politician in the incoming Obama administration, has withdrawn his name from consideration for the post of secretary of commerce, a position to which he had been nominated by the President-elect with considerable fanfare in early December.

Richardson stepped down because of uncertainty over the success of his confirmation process – uncertainty caused by a federal investigation into his administration’s dealings with a consulting firm that donated $100,000 to two of his political action committees.

While Richardson said he was confident he and his aides will be eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, he decided to withdraw from the Obama team to avoid delays in the confirmation process. He will stay on as governor of New Mexico.

Richardson — who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination before throwing his support to Obama (despite his longtime association with the Clintons) — apparently had expected to become Obama’s main Latino official, not only dealing with Commerce matters, but also helping improve the currently very cool U.S. relationship with Latin America.  He had also been mentioned as a candidate for secretary of state, and the naming of Hillary Clinton to that post instead caused discomfort in some Latino quarters.

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Latino

Obama’s Latino Problem: Hispanic Leaders Criticize the President-elect's Cabinet Choices

By Pilar Marrero, La Opinión columnist and FI2W contributor

The last few weeks have proven again that for a “post racial” leader, elected for the content of his message -and regardless of the color of his skin- the racial and ethnic lines that subtly divide this country will surely affect the way Barack Obama governs after January 20th.

Even before taking office, the president-elect has had to confront –again- the thorny issue of his relationship with Latinos and Latino leadership. It was an issue that plagued his campaign, particularly during the primaries.

His appointments to the cabinet and to the ranks of White House “West Wing” advisors have been closely watched –and criticized- by Latino leaders. From the onset they were pushing a broad agenda, including Bill Richardson’s appointment as secretary of state.

The fact that Obama chose Hillary Clinton instead of Richardson – who supported him during the primary and had to withstand being called “Judas” by the Clinton campaign for doing it – set many tongues wagging about how the governor of New Mexico got the lesser appointment. The word “treason” was uttered by some political observers in private conversations.

The criticism began with the initial absence of Latinos among Obama’s first appointments: the economic team, the “kitchen cabinet” of close advisers that will surround him every day. There were several Latinos named to the transition team, but that was not seen as enough by some Hispanic leaders and commentators.

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Latino

With Hilda Solís At Labor, Obama Rounds Out Latino Contingent in his Cabinet

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Hilda Solis

Hilda Solís

On the heels of a much-criticized decision by the Bush Administration to change the H-2A guest worker program, it looks like one of the public officials who spoke against the change is headed to be the new secretary of labor.

California Rep. Hilda Solís, the 51-year-old daughter of a Mexican father and a Nicaraguan mother, was signaled yesterday as President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for the labor position.

The Associated Press reported that Obama plans to make the designation official today,

Unions, which contributed heavily to Obama and Democrats this year, expect Solis to be an advocate for them and for workers. They expect her to press for legislation that would force businesses to recognize union representation once more than 50 percent of a company’s eligible work force signs union cards, instead of waiting for secret-ballot elections.

Solís becomes the third high-profile Latino official to join the Obama Administration, after the designations of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as secretary of commerce and Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar as interior secretary.

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CommentaryImmigration News

Bill Richardson’s Real Job: Obama’s “Latino in Chief”

Bill Richardson may not have been appointed secretary of state, but his remarks in Spanish after a brief and ceremonial thank you in English left no doubt that he had in mind a bigger role for himself in the Obama Administration: that of “Latino in Chief.”

“To our Latino community, thank you for your votes. Like he (President-elect Barack Obama) told us, ‘Yes, we can’, and our vote has been our voice,” he said in his very Mexican Spanish. “To the millions of people in Latin America and the Caribbean, we have to strengthen the ties that bind us and remember the importance of a united continent.”

[Watch Richardson’s remarks here:]

Those are lofty words for somebody who is supposedly only going to deal with issues of commerce, and not diplomatic relations. But his comments made some believe that he sees himself as a link between Obama — who is said to have limited relations with Latino leaders outside of Illinois — and Latinos everywhere. (more…)

Immigration News

Hispanic Advocates Expect To See Some of Their Own in Incoming Cabinet

Gov. Bill Richardson at the Democratic Convention in Denver.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson at the Democratic Convention in Denver. (Photo: StuffEyeSee/Flickr)

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

After Latino voters came out in big numbers in this election and voted for Barack Obama by a 2-to-1 margin nationally, Latino advocacy groups say they expect to see some of their own named to the president-elect’s incoming cabinet.

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), an umbrella group comprising 26 organizations, sent Sen. Obama a letter on Monday asking him to name New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as the next secretary of state. Richardson — the son of a Mexican mother who grew up in Mexico City — is probably the best-known Hispanic politician in the nation. He made numerous appearances for Obama during the campaign (and his endorsement of Obama instead of Hillary Clinton was a bit of a surprise due to his longstanding relationship with the Clintons.)

(At the same time, Sen. John Kerry deflected reports that he is seeking the secretary of state job.)

But Hispanics advocates aren’t stopping there. According to WashingtonPost.com, they want the Obama Administration to feature “at least two and as many as four” Hispanic cabinet members. Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, told Phillip Rucker,

I’m not one to promote quotas. But I think it would be difficult to see a cabinet at this historic moment in the country that wouldn’t reflect diversity. So it’s our expectation that we would see a diverse cabinet and sub-cabinet.

According to Rucker, some of those being put forward as likely candidates include: Federico Peña, secretary of transportation and energy under President Clinton, who is part of Obama’s transition team; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; AFL-CIO leader Linda Chavez-Thompson; and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif).

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