December 13, 2001 - Orange County Register: Vasquez survives critics in Senate

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2001: 12 December 2001 Peace Corps Headlines: December 13, 2001 - Orange County Register: Vasquez survives critics in Senate

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Vasquez survives critics in Senate

Read this story from the Orange County Register on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on Gadi Vasquez at:

Vasquez survives critics in Senate*

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Vasquez survives critics in Senate

Boxer and Feinstein help ex-supervisor in Peace Corps bid.

December 13, 2001

By DAN NOWICKI The Orange County Register

WASHINGTON -- Former Orange County Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez's bid to become the next Peace Corps director won the blessing of a crucial Senate panel Wednesday after a fiery debate.

In spite of withering criticism of his qualifications from some members, the Democrat-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 14-4 to endorse Vasquez, who next is expected to easily clinch full Senate confirmation.

"He should be fine now," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who a few minutes earlier had mounted an impassioned defense of Vasquez.

At the committee meeting, Vasquez was the target of some stinging attacks by critics such as Sens. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.

Controversy has dogged Vasquez since the White House announced his nomination for the Peace Corps job earlier this year.

Vasquez, a California adviser to George W. Bush during the presidential campaign, has drawn fire from Peace Corps veterans for his lack of international experience and for not being a former Peace Corps volunteer. He earlier transferred $100,000 from his dormant campaign treasury to the Bush effort, and his appointment has been painted by some as a political payoff.

His role in Orange County's bankruptcy also has been resurrected. Vasquez stepped down as board chairman in 1995 amid the bankruptcy turmoil.

Boxer, a former Marin County supervisor, said the Orange County supervisors were thoroughly investigated and "exonerated." No supervisor can ever truly scrutinize every financial report or investment choice that comes before him she said.

She praised Vasquez as a man who "knows what it is to be poor" and for bringing the first Habitat for Humanity project to Orange County.

"I just think that the campaign that has been waged against this man has been very cruel and unfair - this is how I feel," Boxer said.

Sarbanes countered by quoting from a Securities and Exchange Commission report on the bankruptcy that said the supervisors didn't fulfill anti-fraud obligations required by the federal government.

"You may want to dismiss it and sort of throw it away, but it's certainly not a strong argument for making this person the director of the Peace Corps," Sarbanes said to Boxer.

Dodd, a former Peace Corps volunteer, also had harsh words for Vasquez's record, but supported him anyway, partly on the strength of the recommendations of Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

"The fact that this individual has not had experience doesn't mean this individual is not going to succeed, but it is troublesome, to put it mildly, that this is the quality of the nomination," Dodd said. " ... But I am going to come down on the side of giving him a chance."

Opposing Vasquez were Sarbanes, Rockefeller and Sens. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., and Paul Wellstone, D-Minn.

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