Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez’s nomination to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was scheduled for a vote in the Senate on Tuesday. That procedural vote was postponed by Chuck Schumer after a Republican senator raised concerns over an allegation of domestic abuse was raised. Gonzalez’s nomination is now in jeopardy.
The domestic abuse allegation is several years old. The White House is standing by his nomination but it does raise the question of whether or not Gonzalez was thoroughly vetted before he was chosen. If Biden knew about the allegation, he should have given Schumer a heads-up so a last-minute postponement wouldn’t be necessary. The allegation came from an affidavit in a lawsuit against Houston Community College where Melissa Gonzalez, Ed’s wife, worked as a vice-chancellor.
The alleged victim in the lawsuit didn’t make civil or criminal allegations, no supporting evidence surfaced, and no charges were filed. Melissa denies the events described in the affidavit happened. The allegation surfaced last summer but the story wasn’t published by local journalists. He testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last July. When questioned by Republican senators about his record as sheriff in Harris County (Houston) he said he will not end federal partnerships with local law enforcement agencies known as the 287 (g) program that enforces immigration laws. The agreements have been in place in Harris County since 2008 but Gonzalez campaigned for county sheriff in 2016 pledging to end the program in place in the county. In other words, Gonzalez ran on the premise he would align Houston as a sanctuary city but told the Republicans that he will support the program as the Director of ICE. His record in office says otherwise. He terminated a federal partnership between Harris County and ICE. Gonzalez spent the four years of the Trump administration criticizing the Trump administration’s policies on illegal immigration.
As I wrote when Gonzalez testified before the Senate committee last July, a post on Facebook from 2019 quotes Gonzalez’s philosophy on ICE deportations and immigration law enforcement. The link above shows that Gonzalez sounds a lot like Biden does in that Biden instructed DHS to freeze most deportations. Gonzalez is only giving lip service to deporting illegal aliens who are “safety threats” while turning a blind eye to the millions who are in the U.S. illegally.
“I do not support ICE raids that threaten to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom do not represent a threat to the U.S.,” he wrote on Facebook in July 2019. “The focus should always be on clear & immediate safety threats. Not others who are not threats.”
The nomination of a person for the position of Director of ICE who doesn’t support U.S. immigration laws should be an instant disqualifier. But this is Biden’s America and the president doesn’t support enforcing immigration laws on the books, either. Gonzalez, if confirmed, will be a willing participant in the lawlessness of Biden’s border crisis instead of a partner working to solve the crisis.
The White House released a statement in support of Gonzalez.
“Sheriff Gonzalez is an extraordinarily qualified law enforcement professional with 30 years’ experience,” a White House official said. “He has a proven track record of implementing progressive solutions to difficult problems, while coordinating with federal partners, including ICE, to make Harris County Texas safer, and he should be confirmed without delay.”
Those “progressive solutions” the White House touts as a good thing are part of the problem.
Senator Lankford from Oklahoma is the Republican who spoke out against the vote on Gonzalez. Lankford called for a delay on Monday after the National ICE council and Federal Police Foundation brought the affidavit to his attention.
“If these allegations of physical and violent domestic abuse are true, they are disqualifying for a law enforcement officer at any level and raise significant questions about the nominee,” Lankford wrote in a letter calling for the vote to be delayed. “It would be irresponsible for the Senate to vote on the confirmation of Sheriff Gonzalez to be Director of ICE until we determine whether the allegations outlined in the attached affidavit are true.”
Committee chair Senator Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan, wants some answers before agreeing to a vote.
ICE Nominee Ed Gonzalez's nomination seems imperiled after domestic abuse allegation. HSGAC Chairman Gary Peters says he's spoken to Gonzalez about it
"There are some unanswered questions that need to be answered," Peters said. "Any allegation of domestic abuse concerns me."
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) March 9, 2022
It is alleged that Melissa Gonzalez was having an affair with HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado. Former Houston Community College police officer Fredrick Portis said he interviewed both Melissa and Maldonado. Tuesday night Melissa said through a spokesman that she denies being interviewed by Portis or that she filed a complaint against Gonzalez.
Spencer, Gonzalez’s former spokesman, said the affidavit surfaced at the same time as Gonzalez’s confirmation hearing. He said Melissa and Ed Gonzalez consistently deny that any abuse happened, and that Gonzalez’s wife and the chancellor denied this conversation with the officer ever happened.
Melissa Gonzalez said Tuesday evening in a statement: “Any suggestions that I filed or made a complaint against my husband is false and defamatory. To be clear, the assertions referenced in the affidavit, as they relate to me, my husband, or my marriage, are completely false.”
Spencer said: “Melissa Gonzalez has a PhD, she’s a college president who is fully capable of speaking for herself and who has unquestioned credibility and integrity in this community. She’s not shy, she’s a strong woman.”
Her spokesman went on to blame Republicans for the postponement of the vote. He called it typical Washington politics for them to raise questions at the last minute, perhaps after a Google search. Questions should be asked, though, by senators who were not in that committee hearing to question Gonzalez. That is just doing due diligence before casting a vote on an important position. The Democrat who is the chair of that committee agrees that questions should be asked before a vote.
We’ll see how long the White House supports Gonzalez and what happens from here. Remember, Biden likes to point to the passage of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 as his only big accomplishment in his four decades long political career. That makes this story a bit awkward, doesn’t it?