- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2007

President Bush issued a recess appointment yesterday enabling Republican fundraiser Sam Fox to become U.S. ambassador to Belgium, despite objections from Senate Democrats who blocked his nomination last month.

“The president is exercising his constitutional right to recess appoint Sam Fox because he believes that Sam has the credentials and background to serve in this important post and was the victim of partisan politics on the Hill,” said White House spokesman Tony Fratto.

Democrats opposed Mr. Fox’s nomination because he had donated money to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, an organization that opposed 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry.

“It’s sad but not surprising that this White House would abuse the power of the presidency to reward a donor over the objections of the Senate,” said Mr. Kerry, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Unfortunately, when this White House can’t win the game, they just change the rules, and America loses.”

Mr. Bush withdrew Mr. Fox’s nomination last month after it became clear that Democrats on the committee, including Mr. Kerry, would not allow it to go forward. Congress is out of town on recess this week, which allowed Mr. Bush to make the appointment. The recess appointment is valid through the current session of Congress, meaning that Mr. Fox will effectively be allowed to serve through the end of the Bush administration.

Recess appointments have been used in the past by the Bush administration to bypass Congress over potentially troublesome nominees, including former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, who also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, went one step further than Mr. Kerry in his objections, saying he thinks the appointment may have violated Senate rules.

“I seriously question the legality of the president’s use of the recess appointment authority in this instance. I intend to seek an opinion on the legality of this appointment from the [Government] Accountability Office,” he said. Mr. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, is widely credited with helping to derail Mr. Fox’s nomination last month.

The White House has said it was previously unaware that Mr. Fox had contributed $50,000 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The group was widely credited with helping derail Mr. Kerry’s presidential campaign by airing a series of ads questioning the Massachusetts Democrat’s military record in the Vietnam War and criticizing his public actions after returning from the war.

Mr. Fox helped raise $200,000 for Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign, but has said he played no direct role in the Swift Boat advertising campaign.

At a committee hearing in February, Mr. Kerry asked Mr. Fox to repudiate his financial contributions to the group, but Mr. Fox defended the donation: “When I’m asked, I just generally give.”

Mr. Fox, who serves as chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, has raised more than $1 million for Republican candidates, according to public campaign-finance records.

Mr. Bush also used his recess appointment authority yesterday to make Andrew Biggs deputy director of Social Security. The president’s earlier nomination of Mr. Biggs, an outspoken advocate of partially privatizing the government’s retirement program, was rejected by Senate Democrats in February.

• Jon Ward contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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