- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 30, 2002

President Bush announced five recess appointments yesterday, including adding his campaign lawyer to the Federal Election Commission and naming a black conservative assistant secretary of education for civil rights.
The president appointed Michael E. Toner to the FEC, where he will help implement the new campaign-finance regulations Congress passed last week. Mr. Toner is chief counsel to the Republican National Committee and was general counsel to Bush-Cheney 2000.
Gerald Reynolds, a legal analyst at the Center for Equal Opportunity and president of the Center for New Black Leadership, was appointed assistant secretary of education for civil rights.
The president avoided the Senate confirmation process by making the appointments while Congress is on a two-week break for Easter and Passover. A recess appointee can serve through the end of the calendar year but must be confirmed by the Senate to hold the slot after that.
Democrats criticized Mr. Bush for circumventing the nomination process.
"This is one more example of the administration's lack of commitment to the enforcement of our nation's civil rights laws," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, who as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has jurisdiction over Mr. Reynolds' nomination.
"Gerald Reynolds' confirmation hearing lay serious doubts about his qualifications for this important post that effects the civil rights of millions of Americans," Mr. Kennedy said.
White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the five nominations will still be pending before the Senate and that Mr. Bush hopes the confirmation process continues on them, but he said the president felt the slots needed to be filled now.
"All five are highly qualified for the position they have been nominated for, and the president will continue to work with the Senate so that these nominees receive a hearing and can be confirmed by the Senate," he said.
In addition to Mr. Toner and Mr. Reynolds, the president appointed Dennis L. Schornack to be commissioner and chairman of the International Joint Commission for the United States and Canada, Emil H. Frankel to be assistant secretary of transportation for transportation policy and Jeffrey Shane to be associate deputy secretary of transportation.
Jim Manley, Mr. Kennedy's spokesman, said there were concerns from civil rights groups over Mr. Reynolds' commitment to enforcing civil rights laws, including affirmative action. He said some women's groups were concerned that he would not adequately enforce Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs, including athletics.
Mr. Bush sent Mr. Reynolds' nomination for the Department of Education to the Senate on Sept. 25. Mr. Kennedy held a hearing on him on Feb. 26 and was planning to bring Mr. Reynolds' nomination for a vote in committee sometime in April, Mr. Manley said.
But Mr. Reynolds' backers said Democrats were stalling because they didn't want to see him confirmed.
Roger Clegg, general counsel at the Center for Equal Opportunity, where Mr. Reynolds used to work, said Mr. Reynolds "wrote and is on record as opposing the use of racial and ethnic preferences in, for instance, college admissions, and is in general a conservative, and of course that makes him unpopular with Senator Kennedy."
As for Mr. Toner, Sen. Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat and one of the authors of the new campaign-finance regulations, said the regular process should have been followed.
"Mister Toner's nomination was only sent to the Senate on March 4, 2002. There is no indication that the Rules Committee would not have moved expeditiously on Mister Toner's nomination, and no good reason for bypassing the Senate confirmation process in this way," Mr. Feingold said in a statement.
But Mr. Toner said he is looking forward to getting to work on the new regulations. "There's obviously a tremendous amount of work to be done at the agency in a short amount of time," he said.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, respected the president's authority, his spokeswoman said.
"While we always prefer to work out nominations through the Senate, we understand and appreciate that the president has the prerogative to recess-appoint people," said Ranit Schmelzer, Mr. Daschle's spokeswoman.
Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, said Mr. Bush's appointments have been uniformly qualified. He said at the pace the Senate was going in confirming federal judges, Mr. Bush had every reason to suspect slow action on these nominees and to act on his own.
"To the extent you hear any of these Democrats yelping about process, I didn't hear the same utterances out of them when President Clinton was making all these last-minute appointments as president," he said.


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