- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2021

As far as Senate Republicans are concerned, if President Biden can walk back the nomination of David Chipman, he can do the same with Tracy Stone-Manning.

The White House withdrew Mr. Chipman’s bid to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives earlier this month, but still in Senate limbo is Ms. Stone-Manning, whose nomination to head the Bureau of Land Management has become an albatross for the administration.

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s ranking Republican, offered a solution for Mr. Biden: Cut your losses and pull the nominee.

“After tremendous public outcry, the president has abandoned the disastrous nomination of David Chipman,” he said in a statement to The Washington Times. “Now, he should do the same with Tracy Stone-Manning.”

He ticked off the problems surrounding her nomination, including her involvement in a 1989 ecoterrorism case in Idaho; her disputed statement that she was never the subject of a federal investigation; and her $100,000 loan from a prominent Montana developer while she worked in federal and state government.

“Tracy Stone-Manning should never be the director of the Bureau of Land Management,” Mr. Barrasso said. “President Biden should withdraw her nomination immediately and replace it with someone Republicans and Democrats can work with.”

Sen. Steve Daines, Montana Republican, said that “David Chipman was the wrong choice for ATF and I’m glad the Biden administration listened to my concerns and pulled his nomination.”

“It’s time President Biden now listens to the bipartisan opposition against his nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management, Tracy Stone-Manning, and pull her nomination as well,” Mr. Daines said.

There are parallels between Chipman and Stone-Manning picks: Both deadlocked in committee after Republicans lined up against them, meaning that every Democrat as well as Vice President Kamala D. Harris would be needed to confirm the nominees on the Senate floor.

What doomed Mr. Chipman, a gun-control advocate, was the lack of support from key moderates. Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, had “expressed skepticism,” according to the Bangor Press Herald, and Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana were seen as on the fence.

Senate Democrats have so far stood behind Ms. Stone-Manning, although they appear in no hurry to bring her nomination to the floor.

The committee voted on her nomination July 22. Two Energy Department nominees who received committee approval the same day, Andrew Light and Samuel T. Walsh, were confirmed by the full Senate Aug. 11 and Aug. 9 respectively.

Those opposing her nomination include former BLM director Bob Abbey, who headed the agency during the Obama administration from 2009 to 12, while her supporters include top environmental groups and Mike Penfold, the Bureau’s former Montana state director.

The White House has not commented publicly on Ms. Stone-Manning since late July, when it issued a statement calling her “exceptionally qualified to be the next Director of the Bureau of Land Management.”

Ms. Stone-Manning has faced scrutiny over her decision to mail an anonymous letter on behalf of tree-spikers, whom she testified against in 1993 as part of an immunity deal, as well as her 2008 below-market loan as a Senate staffer from real-estate developer and Democratic donor Stuart Goldberg.

She described it as a loan from a friend to help her family during the recession, but failed to consult with the Senate Ethics Committee about the transaction, prompting questions about whether she violated Senate rules.

The loan was repaid in 2020, meaning that it was still outstanding when she served as chief of staff to Gov. Steve Bullock, as director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and on Mr. Tester’s Senate staff.

In a July 31 letter to Mr. Goldberg, Mr. Barrasso asked for details about the transfer; whether he considered it a personal or business loan; what payments were made; and whether he contacted her while she worked for Mr. Tester, Mr. Bullock or the department.

“Did you ever have any concerns about a potential conflict of interest, or the appearance of one, between Ms. Stone-Manning’s federal or state government positions and your business activities after providing her with $100,000?” asked Mr. Barrasso in the letter.

So far, Mr. Goldberg has not responded to the query, according to Senate staff.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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