President Barack Obama’s nominee for a key international trade post in his administration is coming under fire from Obama’s progressive base.
The president’s nomination of former Bank of America executive Stefan Selig to become under secretary for international trade at the Department of Commerce is the latest Obama pick to draw opposition from members of his own party and political movement.
Liberals are protesting based on the fact that Selig received more than $9 million in bonus pay from Bank of America just as he was nominated for the Commerce Department post in November 2013. Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign accepted a $15 million loan from Bank of America, with which Obama has maintained close ties.
Selig was recommended for the administration slot by Obama’s Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, a bank scion whom Selig worked with on deals in the private sector. Selig would play a key role in the administration in the development of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which would allow U.S. companies to partner with Asian markets outside of China to limit China’s growing economic dominance of the region.
A petition at the progressive activism site CREDO Action calling for Obama to withdraw the nomination has already received more than 134,000 signatures, less than 16,000 shy of its 150,000 goal. Democratic Florida Rep. Alan Grayson, one of the most liberal members of Congress, recently sent the petition out in an email to supporters.
“When former Wall Street banker Stefan Selig was nominated for a senior Commerce Department role that is central to trade negotiations, Bank of America (where he worked at the time as a top executive) paid him a special $9 million ‘exit’ bonus,” according to the CREDO petition. “Let’s be clear, the $9 million was not a normal yearly bonus. It was an extra bonus on top of a $5.1 million incentive bonus given to him for his job performance. And it was given to him right as he was poised to gain the power to write Bank of America’s interests directly into our trade agreements. Tell President Obama: Stop the revolving door. Withdraw the Selig nomination.”
Selig is not the first recent Obama nominee to receive opposition from liberals and Democrats.
In February, Obama angered his friendly pro-abortion group NARAL Pro-Choice America for nominating pro-life judge Michael Boggs to a federal district court bench in Georgia.
Vivek Murthy, Obama’s 36-year old Surgeon General nominee, also lost support from a bloc of Senate Democrats due to his gun-control activism and relative lack of medical experience, prompting the administration to put Murthy’s confirmation process on hold.
Debo Adegbile, nominated to head the civil rights division in Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department, was voted down in a bipartisan Senate vote in March after it was revealed that he represented convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal during his time at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.