Paul L. Caron

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Mary Smith to Head DOJ Tax Division Over Fierce Republican Opposition

Smith From The Blog of the Legal Times: Embattled Tax Nominee Advances on Party-Line Vote:

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to move ahead with the nomination of Mary Smith to head the Justice Department’s Tax Division, over Republican objections that Smith lacks significant relevant experience.

At a committee meeting, three Republican senators spoke against Smith, noting that she has never held a job specializing in tax law. She has never written or spoken on tax issues, does not have a specialized degree, and has never taken a continuing legal education course in tax law, said the committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

“Tax law is very specialized and it’s certainly not an area where you learn on the job,” Sessions said. He argued that Smith could be an embarrassment to the administration, saying, “You should not put people in a job they’re not prepared to handle.”

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) called Smith the “worst choice” that President Barack Obama has made in all of his appointments. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the Republican whip, said there must be “thousands of highly experienced tax lawyers who would love to have a job like this.”

No Democrats spoke in defense of Smith before voting for her, though Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) noted that the committee has received letters supporting her nomination ....

Smith is a partner at Schoeman Updike Kaufman & Scharf in Chicago. ...  The committee voted 12-7 along party lines to send Smith’s nomination to the full Senate.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:  Obama Nominates Mary L. Smith to Head DOJ Tax Division.

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Tracked on Jun 15, 2009 6:15:11 AM


I had a law school prof who joked that requiring us to take a 3 hr. course in Federal Tax Law was just asking for trouble. He warned us that if we weren't tax attorneys and had a tax question to always call a Tax Attorney! Tax is not something to be dabbled in, seriously.

Does Smith by any chance have an accounting degree? That would be something.

Posted by: BAW | Jun 15, 2009 3:38:26 PM

Nice job, Smithie.

Posted by: edh | Jun 15, 2009 6:51:17 AM

Hmmm, a politically connected Chicagoan, doesn't know anything about tax, where have I seen this kind of thing before? It is no longer a case of Obama being similar to Bush in some ways. He IS Bush, simply in an opposite direction, and sooner or later people will come to terms with this.

Posted by: mike livingston | Jun 15, 2009 6:41:35 AM

The country is in the very best of hands.

Posted by: Techie | Jun 15, 2009 5:52:48 AM

Maybe she was the only person available who (a) didn't have a tax problem, (b) didn't think the pay was absurdly low, and (c) was willing to be pilloried in the confirmation process. As things stand, only hard-core activists, the power-hungry, and genuine saints would find government service attractive. Let's hope she's in the last of these three categories.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Jun 14, 2009 11:25:12 AM