NOTE: This is the first of a series of articles on the Department of Homeland Security.
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 30, 2011 -Today was Alan Bersin's last day of work. Tomorrow he will join the millions of unemployed Americans who will be looking for a new job during 2012. Who is Alan Bersin? The fact that so few people have heard of Alan Bersin is convincing evidence that the major media outlets have ignored important negative news stories on the Administration of President Barack Obama.
Bersin, who was appointed as acting Commissioner of Border and Customs Protection through a recess appointment by President Obama, was forced to resign from his job after the U.S. Senate Finance Committee refused to act on his nominationt. When Bersin's resignation was reported by The Hill earlier this month, angry online comments attributed his resignation to political obstruction by the Republicans on the Committee. The real reason for the failure of his appointment was the fact that he had been accused of lying to the Committee in the background forms all nominees are required to submit when seeking a political appointment to an executive branch agency.
Specifically, Bersin informed the Committee that he and his wife had employed three domestic employees. A due diligence investigation by Committee investigators disclosed that the couple had actually employed ten domestic employees during the relevant reporting period. While Bersin certainly has less reason to remember his domestic employees than former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, it is unusual for someone to not remember seven employees no matter how self absorbed that person may be. Perhaps the reason for Bersin's selective memory was the fact that he and his wife failed to file the I-9 forms - required by Federal law - which verify eligibility for legal employment. Bersin is a Harvard and Yale educated Rhodes Scholar and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. His wife is a sitting San Diego County Superior Court Judge. The issue of his failure to file I-9 forms for employees was raised when he was nominated to be a U.S. Attorney by President Clinton in 1993.
The best defense Bersin could muster during his confirmation hearings was that he had complied with the "Spirit of the Law." It is not surprising that the senators responsible for consenting to the confirmation of the Administration's proposed Border chief found this explanation less than adequate.
Border enforcement and security is one of the most high profile and important domestic policy issues facing our country as we move into a presidential election year. Yet no major newspaper or broadcast media outlet bothered to conducted an investigation into Bersin's recess appointment and subsequent performance in office. Aside from theSan DiegoReader a few bloggers, conservative and lobbying industry websites, this story barely registered a blip. The best the Washington Post could muster was publishing, on Christmas day, a brief AP story on Bersin's resignation.
Far from being a silly and unimportant nanny inquisition, the questions raised by Bersin's recess appointment, his performance in office and his testimony before Congress speak volumes about the dysfunction of the Obama administration's brand of governing. It reflects a culture of making high-level appointments based on political utility rather than competency and integrity. It also reflects an arrogant practiceof fighting for and defending incompetent and ethically challenged officials in the face of clear evidence of wrongdoing, a practice that has ground the wheels of competent governing to a halt
NOTE: I will be updating this post with more information about Bersin's appointment, as well as his performance in office, so check bookmark the page and check back over the next few days.