Too good to vet? Biden nominee arrested for "retail theft" in 1995

Twitter/@STOmarova

Knowing Saule Omarova’s preferred brand of politics, perhaps she only intended to redistribute a little wealth. Even so, the nomination of the radical-Marxist nominee to Treasury just got a little more complicated, thanks to a background check from Fox News that Joe Biden’s team must have skipped:

President Biden’s nominee to lead a branch of the Treasury Department was arrested in 1995 for “retail theft.”

Fox News obtained a Wisconsin Department of Justice criminal background check of Saule Omarova, the president’s nominee to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).

According to the background check, Omarova was arrested by Madison, Wisconsin, police officers on June 2, 1995 and charged with a misdemeanor count of “retail theft.”

The background check also lists Omarova as having a deferred prosecution in January 1996 for the charge, which were dropped through the Wisconsin first offender program.

The White House has pushed back, claiming that Omarova has been “fully transparent” about this crime. That’s, um … comforting:

“To be clear, Saule has been fully transparent about this incident her entire career, including to the Senate, in applications, and when she worked at the Treasury Department during the Bush Administration,” the spokesperson said. “This case was ultimately dismissed in January 1996 – more than 25 years ago – and was the result of a misunderstanding and confusing situation.”

“It’s sad that a far-right partisan group with a pattern of engaging in tawdry behavior would partner with Fox News to smear the name of a qualified nominee seeking to serve her country,” the spokesperson continued. “Saule Omarova is eminently qualified and was nominated for this role given her strong track record on regulation and strong academic credentials. The White House strongly supports this historic nomination.”

Fox’s Houston Keene wondered a bit at the “far-right partisan group” accusation:

The White House did not respond to Fox News’ inquiry as to which “far-right partisan group” the White House alluded to, since Omarova’s arrest is public record in Wisconsin and therefore accessible by any member of the media or public.

And that would be doubly true of someone who had been “fully transparent about this incident her entire career,” no? If that were the case, then all any media outlet would need is their Lexis-Nexis account. In fact, this wouldn’t be newsworthy at all, probably not even for Fox News, as this incident would have been part of the media reporting on Omarova all along.

As it is, however, the late revelation of this arrest and prosecution for a nominee to a high-ranking position at Treasury will complicate an already unpopular confirmation process. As Karen wrote a week ago, Omarova isn’t a reconstructed ex-Marxist but a full-fledged autocrat still in the Soviet mold. For another point, Omarova explicitly went after Joe Manchin for failing to fall into lockstep with her like-minded progressives:

The purpose of the authority, which would be a government institution independent of Congress and the president, would be to direct public and private investments toward “vital infrastructure and the real economy.” Part of the reason it is necessary, Omarova argued at the roundtable, is members of Congress like Manchin, D-W.Va., who oppose massive government spending programs.

“It’s fine when, if we have a strong majority in Congress and we are sure that Congress will fund whatever we need, but we can never be sure of that,” she said.

“People like Joe Manchin, for example – supposed to be on the Democratic side – and yet feel very uncomfortable with big spending ideas, right?” Omarova continued. “To supplement that kind of fiscally constraint and politically constraint kind of spending, we need to make sure we have a strong public institution that can harness the existing abundant private capital and pull it in the right direction.”

Anyone want to guess how Manchin will vote on Omarova’s nomination, regardless of this new revelation? Jon Tester seems equally reluctant to confirm someone who thinks that unelected boards can “harness the existing abundant private capital” for their own purposes. One has to wonder how many other Senate Democrats want to sign up for a plan that would cut Congress out the loop on spending decisions by enabling the executive branch to gather its own funding by seizing private capital. This is a recipe for an authoritarian state, not a federal representative republic.

The emergence of this conviction might do Senate Democrats a favor. They can complain — rightfully — that Biden and his team should find someone qualified that can pass a background check before presenting them to the Senate, and pass on Omarova to make that point.