02.11.09

Statement of Michael B. Enzi Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Rep. Hilda Solis’ Nomination to Head the Department of Labor

Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for calling this mark-up today, and especially forfollowing regular order during the nomination process. By doing so we are fulfilling our adviceand consent obligations pursuant to the Constitution. Rep. Solis has a diverse background and a compelling personal story.

Her life is one thatepitomizes the American Dream, and her dedication to public service is admirable. It shouldserve as an example to young people everywhere. The main reason this nomination has been delayed for over a month is because thenominee had errors and omissions in the documents that she filed with the Committee as well asthe U.S. House of Representatives. Therefore we had to reconstruct the entire sequence ofevents and financial statements to ensure there are no conflict of interests.

This is a similar duediligence and background check process that we follow for all nominees both of thisAdministration and of the previous Administration. But for these paperwork problems, weprobably would have been able to vote on her nomination in January. One of my primary conflict of interest issues concerns Rep. Solis’ position as a Treasurerof a 501(c)(4), a not-for-profit lobbying firm. As an accountant and coauthor of the SarbanesOxley Act, I can assure my colleagues that there is no such thing as an “honorary” Treasurer of a501(c)(4) organization that lobbies Congress. So-called “honorary” positions are reserved forBoard of Director positions on 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, but not positions with afiduciary responsibility, such as Treasurers or General Counsels for 501(c)(4) groups.I was also deeply troubled to learn that this entity has filed lobbying disclosurepaperwork with the House of Representatives reflecting that they lobby in support of bills thatRep. Solis has co-sponsored and with which she would be involved as the top labor official in theexecutive branch.

To address these concerns, I have obtained from Rep. Solis a sworn affidavit that she has no check writing or signing authority as Treasurer for this 501(c)(4) entity, nor does she haveany control over or the ability to control this entity’s expenditures for campaign ads. I requestthat this affidavit as well as the letter from this entity’s banker be added to the responses Ireceived to my questions for the record. In addition, the entity has filed amended filings with the Federal Election Commissionthat demonstrate that Rep. Solis was not listed as being responsible for any monies goingtowards the campaign ads. This affidavit goes a long way towards showing that no conflict of interest appears tohave taken place.

To avoid any future perceived conflict of interest, it is my hope and expectation thatSpeaker Pelosi should immediately amend the House Ethics rules to prohibit Members ofCongress from serving in a position of fiduciary responsibility for 501(c)(4) organizations. It is ablatant conflict of interest, not allowed in the Senate, and should be prohibited immediately inthe House of Representatives. Finally, last week press reported that there were unpaid tax liens related to Rep. Solis’husband’s small auto repair business. It appears that all of the outstanding liens have been paid.I have obtained a letter from the County of Los Angeles Treasurer and Tax Collector verifyingthat the County liens have been released. My staff also held a conference call with officials fromthe State of California, and received word that all outstanding state liens have been released.Mr. Chairman, thank you again for letting us work through regular order to ensure thatwe fulfill our duties under the Constitution.

Now that we have done our due diligence we canmove this nomination out of the Committee. It is our hope to have Rep. Solis’ nomination votedon the Senate floor soon. Rep. Solis and I discussed the Workforce Investment Act and how weneed to get it reauthorized immediately. I look forward to working with her in her new Cabinetposition as Secretary of Labor and her staff on the this and the many other labor and economicissues facing our country.

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