President Joe Biden sure knows how to pick them. Former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and former California Department of Labor head Julie Su have respectively been nominated by the president to serve as ambassador to India and U.S. secretary of labor. Both have left troubling records here in California.
On Wednesday, President Biden declared that Su, who is currently deputy secretary of labor, is a “real leader.”
“Julie is the American dream,” Biden said at the White House, according to the Associated Press. “She’s committed to making sure that dream is in reach for every American.”
While there is indeed much in Su’s personal story to admire — the daughter of Chinese immigrants, she attended Stanford University and Harvard University — her record as a leader is suspect at best.
As head of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency from 2019 to 2021, Su supported and enforced Assembly Bill 5, which crushed independent contracting in the Golden State.
As California labor secretary, she was also in charge of the Employment Development Department, which has gained notoriety nationwide for its $32 billion unemployment fraud scandal.
On Feb. 17, several Republican members of California’s congressional delegation — Reps. Kevin Kiley, Darrell Issa, Jay Obernolte, Young Kim, Tom McClintock, Ken Calvert and Mike Garcia — penned a letter to President Biden calling attention to all of this and warning that Julie Su’s record in California should be disqualifying.
“[T]ogether, these two situations scream ‘incompetence,’” they wrote. “We urge you not to nominate Julie Su to be the next Secretary of Labor.”
Clearly, Biden did not heed such warnings. Biden is obviously aligned with Su and the state of California when it comes to prioritizing union interests — he has repeatedly called for passage of the federal PRO Act, which would allow for unionization of independent contractors — but his ignoring of the EDD scandal is inexplicable and inexcusable.
Likewise, Biden has doubled down on his nomination of Garcetti, first nominated to be ambassador in July 2021 and again in January 2023.
On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee punted a hearing over Garcetti’s nomination to next week.
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Biden wants to reward Garcetti for being among his earliest supporters in the 2020 presidential race. But there are legitimate concerns to have about Garcetti.
Last year, Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Oversight and Investigations unit concluded “Garcetti likely knew, or should have known, that his former senior advisor was sexually harassing and making racist remarks toward multiple individuals.”
It also doesn’t help that Garcetti’s former deputy mayor, Raymond Chan, is on trial right now as part of a massive corruption investigation. To be sure, Garcetti has not been implicated there, but the optics aren’t in Garcetti’s favor. He presided over a corruption-plagued City Hall that has seen multiple council officials go down for corruption.
Somewhat embarrassingly, Garcetti’s parents have spent tens of thousands of dollars to lobby senators to support his nomination.
At best, these are highly questionable nominations. At worst, they’re just political malpractice and don’t speak well to the president’s judgment.