Upd8: Senate votes against Dept. of Justice nomination

By Tom Waring
Wire Staffer

U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick is happy with last week’s Senate vote to block the confirmation of Debo Adegbile to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

The Senate voted 52–47 on March 5 in opposition to the lawyer, who once represented Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted in the 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

Fitzpatrick said a majority of senators, including all Republicans and several Democrats, stood on the side of the law enforcement community and Faulkner’s family in what he called President Barack Obama’s “misguided” nomination of Adegbile.

The congressman said his fellow lawmakers showed true support for the civil rights of all Americans, including members of law enforcement.

“Mr. Adegbile’s legal leadership in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal not only prolonged the pain and suffering of the Faulkner family, it added to the misplaced ‘fame’ given to a coldblooded killer masquerading as a social activist,” Fitzpatrick said.

“I remain optimistic that President Obama will take action to nominate a new candidate for this position who will faithfully execute the duties of this important office and draw strong, bipartisan support.”

Fitzpatrick has ardently opposed Adegbile’s nomination since its announcement in early January. He wrote to the president and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling the recommendation ‘confounding.’ He also spoke to senators prior to the judiciary committee vote.

The committee voted 10–8 to move the nomination to the full Senate. All Democrats favored Adegbile. All Republicans opposed him.

Leading up to the vote by the full Senate, Fitzpatrick delivered copies of the documentary Barrel of a Gun about the murder to all Senate offices.

Sen. Pat Toomey, District Attorney Seth Williams and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 strongly opposed the nomination.

••

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Democratic candidate for governor, last week released a plan she believes will safeguard Pennsylvania’s air, water and natural resources and create jobs.

Schwartz is one of seven Democrats running in the May 20 primary. The winner will face Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

Schwartz said, “Investing in clean and renewable energy sources will create new wealth and job opportunities for Pennsylvanians, and responsible stewardship will ensure that Pennsylvania’s environment is preserved for generations to come. Leading the way on clean energy doesn’t just make economic sense — it is our moral obligation. But Gov. Corbett is failing us with a lack of vision and a refusal to harness Pennsylvania’s potential to create jobs while safeguarding the environment.”

Schwartz would require that Pennsylvania obtain 30 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources by 2030. She calls it an “ambitious but achievable” goal that would expand job opportunities, reduce carbon emissions and make Pennsylvania a national leader in renewable energy.

In addition, she would create the “Gifford Pinchot Land Conservation Fund,” a public-private partnership that will use conservation techniques to address climate change. She’d create more open space, reduce carbon emissions by improving natural carbon sinks, and fund land reclamation projects across the commonwealth. She’d fund the idea by using the profits from her proposed 5-percent severance tax on shale gas production.

Also, she would requires Pennsylvania electric distribution companies to conserve electricity. She would promote green building standards and will use revenue from the aforementioned severance tax on natural gas drilling to fund energy efficiency upgrades.

Other initiatives would include investments in clean energy; the development of alternative transportation options; support for green workforce training; and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

••

The campaign of Gov. Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, a former Bucks County commissioner, said the incumbents’ low tax-and-spend policies are having a positive impact on Pennsylvania.

The state’s jobs report for January was released last week, and the unemployment rate was 6.4 percent, the lowest level since November 2008 and below the national rate of 6.7 percent.

“Under the leadership of Gov. Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate continues to drop, and today, it is at its lowest level since November of 2008,” said campaign manager Mike Barley. “Well below the national unemployment rate, Gov. Corbett’s ‘More Jobs, Less Taxes’ agenda is growing our economy and putting Pennsylvanians back to work.

“The Obama tax-and-spend agenda our opponents hope to bring to Harrisburg threatens to take Pennsylvania back to the failed policies that left a $4.2 billion budget deficit when the governor took office and higher unemployment.”