Resolved: Neither party can vet worth a damn when it comes to candidates or nominees. It’s one thing for Joe Biden to reach back to the previous administration to build his Team of Retreads. It’s quite another to hand-pick two nominees for Cabinet positions with connections three administrations ago — who both participated in the sleaziest presidential pardon spree. So far, anyway.
The Washington Post calls shenanigans on the pair, and one of them was in trouble already:
Two of President-elect Joe Biden’s top Cabinet picks played key roles in a clemency scandal that shook Los Angeles and Minnesota two decades ago, when the early release of a convicted cocaine trafficker raised complaints of political favoritism and drew sharp condemnations from prosecutors.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, whom Biden has announced he intends to nominate as health and human services secretary, and Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s pick for homeland security secretary, were among several prominent Los Angeles figures who reached out to the White House about the sentence of Carlos Vignali Jr., whose father was a wealthy entrepreneur and major Democratic donor in California.
Then-President Bill Clinton commuted Vignali’s sentence on his last day in office in 2001 — one of 176 last-minute acts of clemency he granted that were the subject of investigations for years. …
The Vignali commutation drew intense scrutiny because a group of well-connected California Democrats who were friendly with Vignali’s father, Horacio — including Becerra, then a U.S. congressman, and Mayorkas, then the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles — communicated with White House officials about the matter before Clinton acted. Vignali’s father also paid $200,000 to Hugh Rodham, the brother of then-first lady Hillary Clinton, to help secure Vignali’s release.
A 2002 investigation by the GOP-led House Committee on Government Reform found that the commutation was extended over objections from the Justice Department’s pardon office and concluded that it “sent a message that there is a double standard of justice between the rich and the poor.”