Bob McPhail 6:31 a.m., May 19
Top Bersin Aide Quits for Consulting Gig
Ex-Nogales Mayor Marco Antonio López Jr. has announced he's quitting his job as second-in-command to U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner Alan Bersin to “pursue other opportunities in the private sector," according to Arizona newspapers.
"Without elaborating, López said he will be working as an international business consultant in the nation’s capital," reported Nogales International.
Bersin -- who has faced many controversies in the past, including protests from angry teachers regarding his top-down reform efforts as chief of San Diego Unified schools -- has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
Nominated to his current post by president Barak Obama in September 2009, Bersin assumed office via a so-called recess appointment Obama made in March 2010 after it became clear the Senate was in no hurry to confirm him.
After his recess appointment, Bersin appeared before the Senate Finance Committee in May 2010, which grilled him about the fact that he and wife, Superior Court judge Lisa Foster, had not filed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Forms I-9 on ten domestic employees for 20 years.
"As the person responsible for securing our nation's borders, your failure to follow the law is unacceptable," committee chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat, told Bersin.
"It seems like you're pretty cavalier about I-9s, and you're basically saying that I-9s are not that important, that we should overlook the failure to fill out I-9s for employees."
Bersin acknowledged he'd made a mistake by not filing the forms.
Bersin's private business dealings along the Mexican border have also raised a series of conflict-of-interest questions that would be virtually certain to be taken up if he ever goes before senators again.
But López told Nogales International that Bersin is still counting on being confirmed before his recess appointment runs out, though no hearings have yet been announced.
"We are completely confident the commissioner will be confirmed and will continue the good work he has done. I just thought it was a good time for me to pursue other opportunities.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, "a recess appointment expires at the end of the Senate’s next session or when an individual (either the recess appointee or someone else) is nominated, confirmed, and permanently appointed to the position, whichever occurs first. In practice, this means that a recess appointment could last for almost two years."