It’s been a few days since President Obama introduced former Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson as the White House’s choice to lead to the Department of Homeland Security, and the Republican line of criticism is coming into focus: Johnson has donated to Democrats.
It seems like a pretty weak pitch, but Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Jeff Session (R-Ala.), who’ve apparently taken the lead in opposing Johnson’s nomination, have both gone after the DHS nominee for having financially supported Democratic candidates, including the president, in recent years.
The good news is, the criticism is not made up – Johnson, as Fox News first reported on Friday, has “contributed more than $100,000 to Democratic candidates and groups” over the past decade. Sessions characterizes this support as a “deeply concerning” part of Johnson’s background, while Cornyn included this detail among his “grave concerns” about this nomination.
Whether one is concerned about a Democratic DHS nominee having contributed to Democratic candidates is, I suppose, a matter of perspective, but as Evan McMorris-Santoro noted, there is the question of a rather brazen double standard.
Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security, “raised at least $251,550” as a fundraising bundler for Bush’s 2000 campaign, according to a 2003 New York Times investigation and was known to be adviser to Bush’s campaign as well as on the shortlist for running mate in 2000 when he was plucked for the DHS job from his job as the Republican governor of Pennsylvania. […]
Michael Chertoff, the second DHS secretary nominated by Bush, also got confirmation votes from Cornyn and Sessions. A former federal judge, Chertoff gave thousands of dollars in direct donations to Republicans, including Bush, in the years before his nomination.
Sessions and Cornyn supported both of these Bush/Cheney DHS nominees, despite their extensive financial backing of Republicans, including support for the then-president himself.
What’s more, the double-standard appears to only go in one direction – I can’t find any evidence of Democrats complaining about the Ridge or Chertoff nominations based on their donor history.
If the Senate GOP intends to derail Johnson’s nomination, it will probably have to do better than this.