December 12, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), joined his Senate colleagues to vote on two of President Obama’s ambassador nominees. The Senate, acting on its Constitutional authority found in Article II Section 2, took up advice and consent consideration of two sitting ambassadors who had been serving under recess appointments by President Obama. Those recess appointments will expire at the end of the year. During the series of votes, Inhofe supported the appointment of Norman Eisen as the U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic and opposed the appointment of Mari Carmen Aponte as the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador. Inhofe cited Aponte’s controversial record and refusal to cooperate with the federal government as reason for his opposition.
Eisen’s nomination was passed by a vote of 70-16. The nomination of Aponte was opposed by a vote of 49-37.
“During his recess appointment, Norman Eisen has proven himself an effective ambassador for the United States in Czech Republic,” said Inhofe. “Having met with him at length, it is clear that he is right for this position. I also spoke with my close personal friend, Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who told me that Mr. Eisen has been doing an excellent job representing the United States over the course of the last year. He has developed a close, trusting relationship with the leaders in Prague. Norman possesses not only the intelligence needed but extensive familiarity with the customs of this region. Combined, these strong credentials make him the best candidate for this position. As a child of Holocaust survivors from Eastern Europe, he has a unique background for this Ambassadorship, and I am pleased to support his nomination.”
Inhofe continued, “I remain concerned about Mari Aponte’s nomination. Background concerns about her ties to Cuban intelligence date back to her nomination during the Clinton administration. During an investigation, she refused to take an FBI lie detector test. She ultimately withdrew herself from consideration for that position. My colleagues tried to get additional information from the Obama White House regarding that 1998 investigation in order to properly vet the nominee, but those efforts have been repeatedly denied. Her liberal political agenda and scandalous background hinders her ability to fulfill the responsibilities of such an esteemed position. The White House has refused to be transparent or provide vital information about her, and that is unacceptable. For these reasons, I have opposed her nomination.”