December 13, 2001 - Los Angeles Times: Key Senate Panel OKs Vasquez for Peace Corps Politics

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2001: 12 December 2001 Peace Corps Headlines: December 13, 2001 - Los Angeles Times: Key Senate Panel OKs Vasquez for Peace Corps Politics

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, December 17, 2001 - 9:43 pm: Edit Post

Key Senate Panel OKs Vasquez for Peace Corps Politics

Read this story from the LA Times on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on Gaddi Vasquez at:

Key Senate Panel OKs Vasquez for Peace Corps Politics*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Key Senate Panel OKs Vasquez for Peace Corps Politics

Critics of the former O.C. supervisor fail to stop his nomination, which goes to the full Senate.


WASHINGTON -- A key Senate committee approved former Orange County Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez's nomination to lead the Peace Corps on Wednesday, turning aside critics' contentions that the Southern California Edison executive is unsuited to run the international humanitarian agency.

Vasquez's nomination was approved by a 14-4 roll call vote, with committee member Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) voting to confirm. One committee member was absent.

The nomination now goes to the full Senate, which could act before it adjourns for its holiday break, officials said. Given the committee's support, it was unlikely the nomination would be derailed. The appointment of Vasquez, a high-profile Latino Republican before Orange County's 1994 slide into bankruptcy, has been criticized by former Peace Corps volunteers upset at what they view as Vasquez's minimal management experience and his lack of expertise in either foreign relations or humanitarian programs.

The Peace Corps, generally viewed as one of the U.S. government's most successful programs, fields some 7,300 volunteers in more than 70 countries under a $275-million budget.

Former volunteers have gone on to play prominent roles in government, business and philanthropic organizations, including Donna Shalala, former secretary of Health and Human Services; Newbery Award-winning children's author Mildred Taylor; and Carol Bellamy, a former Peace Corps director and current executive director of UNICEF.

Vasquez picked up key support Wednesday from another Peace Corps alumnus, committee member Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), who waved a 1-inch stack of e-mails he said he received opposing the nomination. Dodd called Vasquez's nomination "troublesome" and said he "lacks any real background or experience in international relations."

Dodd Defers to His California Colleagues

But Dodd said he would overlook his reservations in light of support from Boxer and other California politicians.

"I'm willing to trust the judgment of my colleagues from California," he said.

Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.) was less accommodating as he questioned Vasquez's leadership abilities and said that in light of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Peace Corps needs a director with "reliability and talent."

Sarbanes cited a critical Securities and Exchange Commission report that blamed the Orange County Board of Supervisors--while Vasquez was a member--for the events that led to the county's 1994 bankruptcy. The report, which mentioned Vasquez by name, accused county officials of misleading and defrauding buyers of $2.1 billion in municipal securities. Vasquez has disagreed with the report's findings.

Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va) also spoke against Vasquez and his qualifications.

"Some of us are accustomed to a very high level of appointee," he said.

Boxer defended Vasquez on Wednesday, as she has in the past. While she said former Peace Corps volunteers opposing Vasquez were "well-meaning," the campaign itself was "cruel and unfair" and that Vasquez shouldn't be held accountable for the Orange County bankruptcy.

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