Alex Acosta

The Second Choice

Trump’s Labor Secretary

Alex Acosta is President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Labor. As a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), assistant attorney general overseeing the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, his record has been marked by scandal and incompetence. On the NLRB, Acosta routinely sided with businesses, even voting to make it easier for employers to fire striking workers or threaten those seeking to unionize. When he was assistant attorney general overseeing the Civil Rights Division, an independent inspector general found that partisanship and ideology had been introduced into hiring and that Acosta did not take sufficient action once made aware of these practices. His mismanagement of the division led to the departure of many experienced, career civil rights lawyers. As U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Acosta went soft on a billionaire in a high-profile sex case involving “underage girls.” He also oversaw the bungled prosecutions of several individuals accused of terrorist activities. Acosta is a political activist with deep ties to conservative movement legal organizations. He has assisted partisan political campaigns (for Republicans) and attended elite conservative political gatherings.


Highlights

Record at the NLRB and on Labor-Related Issues

  • Acosta believes undocumented workers are protected by National Labor Relations Act–a potential conflict with Trump. When Acosta was on the NLRB board he made it clear that he believes National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protections apply to undocumented workers. “He warned that the NLRB’s ‘continued commitment to prosecuting unfair labor practices directed against undocumented workers requires an understanding of the workplace and life realities faced by these individuals.”
  • Acosta was deciding vote to allow employers to more easily fire striking workers. NLRB member Acosta was the deciding vote to reverse precedent and allow employers to use a technicality to fire striking workers.
  • Acosta backed an employer who made implied threats during unionization effort by workers. NLRB board member Acosta sided with an employer who tried to influence a union election by posting an “implied threat to eliminate bonuses and overtime work if the Union won the election.”
  • Acosta helped business interests argue in a court brief that the National Labor Relations Board rules were too tough on employers. Acosta co-authored an amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce arguing that the NLRB unfairly and “severely restricted an employer’s right to rebut the union’s presumption of majority support.”
  • Acosta represented a company that was trying to ignore past collective bargaining agreements. Acosta, while working at Kirkland & Ellis in the 1990s, represented a company that was trying to “avoid the obligations of past collective bargaining agreements” by operating “nonunion mines.”

Record as Head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and on Issues Related to Civil Rights

  • Acosta presided over an increasingly political and partisan Civil Rights Division. Acosta “did not have a problem with administration politics, former division staff lawyers say. They contend that during his two years as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the division became imbued with” a “politically charged atmosphere.” It “tilted to the right in personnel and political decision-making and took stands against minority voters’ rights.” During “that period, all hell broke in the Civil Rights Division,” said William Yeomans, a professor of law at American University and a former deputy section chief in the division under Acosta. “That was all under Acosta, he presided over the politicization of the civil-rights division.”
  • Under Acosta, the Civil Rights Division was plagued by scandal with the non-partisan inspector general claiming “ideological considerations permeated the hiring process.” When Acosta was the Justice Department’s civil rights chief, the division “was plagued by scandal, largely due to leadership that was intent on keeping ‘commies’ and ‘crazy libs’ off the staff,” according to an inspector general report. “Ideological considerations permeated the hiring process at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.” Acosta blamed a subordinate for these problems and “said he was not aware” the subordinate “acted inappropriately in the hiring process,” even though the Special Litigation Section chief said, “she complained directly to Acosta about” the subordinate hiring unqualified applicants. The inspector general said the subordinate “considered political and ideological affiliations in hiring career attorneys and in other personnel actions affecting career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division. In doing so, he violated federal law–the Civil Service Reform Act–and Department policy that prohibit discrimination in federal employment based on political and ideological affiliations, and committed misconduct,” and that Acosta “failed to exercise sufficient oversight.” The subordinate claimed he “didn’t have the final decision-making authority in hiring decisions,” and that Acosta had the “final decision-making authority” on such matters.
  • Under Acosta’s leadership, lawyers in the Civil Rights Division left in droves. Lawyers in the Justice Department’s Civil RightsDivision left in droves when Acosta was in charge of the division.
  • Under Acosta’s leadership, the Civil Rights Division focused less on hiring lawyers with civil rights experience and increasingly on those with memberships in conservative legal groups. During the same period, the Civil Rights Division brought far fewer voting rights and employment bias cases. “From 2003 to 2006, only 42 percent of new hires in the Civil RightsDivision had civil rights experience, compared with 77 percent of new hires in the two years prior,” and “eleven out of forty-five lawyers hired in that period were members of the Federalist Society,” a conservative think tank, while “seven were members of the Republican National Lawyers Association.” During this period “the Civil Rights Division brought far fewer voting rights cases or cases involving employment bias against black people than before, and more cases alleging discrimination against white people or Christians.”
  • Under Acosta, the Civil Rights Division turned a blind eye to election laws that diluted the power of African American voters. When Acosta was the division chief the Justice Department did not “file a single suit alleging that local or state laws or election rules diluted the votes of African Americans.”
  • Under Acosta, Texas was allowed to redraw its congressional district lines resulting in five new Republicans being elected even though eight career Justice Department employees assigned to review the plan said it violated the Voting Rights Act by illegally weakening African American and Hispanic voting power. When Acosta ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division it approved a plan allowing Texas to redraw congressional district lines, which led to five Republicans being added to the state’s congressional delegation. “Eight career Justice Department employees assigned to review the plan in 2003 unanimously concluded that it violated the Voting Rights Act” by “illegally reduced black and Hispanic voting strength.”
  • Acosta took the unusual step of writing an Ohio judge days before the 2004 election in support of Republican plans to place poll monitors in predominantly African American neighborhoods. “At the Justice Department, Acosta took . . . an unusual step of writing a letter to an Ohio judge four days before the 2004 election” in support of “Republican plans to place poll monitors in predominantly black neighborhoods, which critics claimed was a violation of the Voting Rights Act.” Some “former Justice Department civil rights officials and election watchdog groups” charged that Acosta’s “letter sided with Republicans engaging in an illegal, racially motivated tactic known as ‘vote-caging.’”
  • In a potential conflict with Trump’s hard-line anti-immigrant views, Acosta successfully defended people with limited English skills. However, Acosta successfully defended “a legal challenge to federal access rules for people with limited English skills. He also helped enforce voting rights law for non-English speakers.”
  • Under Acosta, the Civil Rights Division investigated and cleared two Louisiana police offers who shot an unarmed black man. When Acosta ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division it investigated a case in Louisiana in which two police officers shot and killed an unarmed black man. The investigation concluded that the officers committed no wrongdoing.
  • Under Acosta, the Civil Rights Division said an officer was “justified in the shooting” of an African American child in the back on Christmas Eve. When Acosta ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division it reviewed an incident in Pennsylvania in which a police officer shot in the back a 12-year-old boy on Christmas Eve, and concluded that the officer was “justified in the shooting.”

Record as a U.S. Attorney and on Issues Related to Crime

  • Acosta was named U.S. attorney despite his lack of experience and view that the “office runs itself.” When Acosta became the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida he had “never tried a case and has little experience in criminal law.” Acosta downplayed the situation when he said, “‘the U.S. attorney’s office runs itself.’”
  • Under Acosta, there was a lack of diversity in hiring/promotion in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. When Acosta was the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida there was a “lack of diversity in hiring and promotion” in the office.
  • Acosta’s office may have illegally spied on defense lawyers for years. It appears that Acosta’s office for many years Illegally spied on defense lawyers “by illegally and secretly obtaining copies of confidential defense documents.”
  • Acosta’s office was ordered to pay one defendant more than $600K for illegally spying on his defense team. “A federal judge reprimanded prosecutors” in Acosta’s office and “ordered the U.S. government . . . to pay a defendant more than $600,000, saying members of the man’s defense team had been secretly recorded in a questionable . . . investigation.” The judge wrote, “‘these events are profoundly disturbing,’” and “‘they raise troubling issues about the integrity of those who wield enormous power over the people they prosecute.’”
  • Acosta’s office went after “suspected Cuban cigar counterfeiters,” an investigation that was prompted and partially funded by the company’s major competitor (Acosta’s office even kept the competitor up to date on trial activities). Acosta’s office tried “suspected Cuban cigar counterfeiters” after an investigation that was initiated and partially funded by the company’s major competitor. Critics of the prosecution speculated that the case was an effort to secure an advantageous position in the American cigar market after the Cuban embargo is lifted. Acosta’s office kept the competitor who partially funded the investigation up to date on trial activities after their part in the case had ended. The trial raised “controversial issues about the integrity of the investigation,” in part because it is uncommon for investigations to be privately funded. Of three federal cases brought about by Acosta’s office in this matter, one defendant received a lenient sentence that did not involve prison time. Another was dropped before trial.
  • Acosta went after pornography featuring consenting adults. Acosta made “obscenity” a top prosecutorial target. “Not pornography involving children, but pornographic material featuring consenting adults.” Pornography was “a major concern for the Bush administration’s powerful Christian conservative supporters.”
  • Acosta’s office gave billionaire Jeffrey Epstein a sweetheart plea deal even though he was suspected of sexually abusing thirty-four underage girls. Lawyers in Acosta’s office “suspected billionaire Jeffrey Epstein abused” thirty-four underage girls, “but they failed to charge him and instead offered him a secret plea bargain.” Epstein, who socialized with Donald Trump and other politicians, “pleaded guilty to state charges in Palm Beach County” and “escaped what should have been serious prison time” after admitting “he hired local underage girls for erotic massages and sex at his South Florida mansion.” The Palm Beach Post said the plea “deal is an indictment of a system that did much more for a criminal than for his victims.” Acosta acknowledged that Epstein’s “‘highly unusual treatment’” in jail and the fact that he “was allowed to leave the jail six days a week during the day to work at his West Palm Beach office for several hours on a work-release program . . . ‘undermined the purpose of a jail sentence.’” Making matters worse, it does not appear that Acosta’s office seriously investigated Epstein before Epstein was given a slap on the wrist.
  • Acosta’s office also gave plea bargains to two men who held an underage girl as a sex slave and pimped her out to others. Acosta plea bargained two men who held an underage girl as a slave and pimped her out to pay off an alleged debt.
  • In potential conflict with Trump, Acosta has said he’d keep an open mind on issues involving undocumented immigrants using the lawful papers of citizen siblings to leave and reenter the United States. Acosta, in 2007, “said he’s willing to keep an open mind on future prosecutions, including instances where an immigrant with lawful papers allows a sibling to borrow the documents to travel back home and then reenter the United States. Nonetheless, ‘Congress has passed this law, and we have an obligation to implement and enforce it,’ Acosta” said.
  • Acosta’s office gave a plea bargain to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who raped a woman under his custodial supervision. Acosta plea bargained a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who raped a woman who was under his “custodial, supervisory, and disciplinary authority.” The rapist could have received a life sentence, but as a result of the plea bargain was only sentenced to seven years in prison.
  • Acosta gave a plea bargain to a man who faced years in prison for Medicare fraud. Acosta plea bargained a man who faced a decade in prison for Medicare fraud. As a result of the plea bargain the fraudster received probation.
  • Acosta’s office prosecuted disgraced former GOP mega-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and asked the judge to go easy on him during sentencing. Acosta’s office prosecuted Jack Abramoff, “the powerhouse Washington lobbyist who admitted running a wide-ranging corruption scheme that ensnared lawmakers, Capitol Hill aides, and government officials.” He could have been sentenced to more than a dozen years in prison, but Acosta’s office asked the judge to only sentence him to “three years and three months.” The judge sentenced him to four years in prison.
  • Acosta’s office gave a plea bargain to an elected official who committed fraud and accepted bribes. During Acosta’s tenure as U.S. attorney, prosecutors in his office agreed to plea bargain an elected official who committed fraud and accepted bribes, and recommended “that he serve no more than five years in prison,” even though he could have been imprisoned for decades for these crimes.
  • Acosta’s office even plea bargained a man who smuggled kilos of cocaine into the United States. Acosta plea bargained a man who snuck kilos of cocaine into the United States. As a result of the plea bargain he received five years in prison, though the “charges carried a maximum life sentence.”
  • Acosta’s office fumbled the prosecution of seven men charged with conspiring to provide “‘material support’ to al Qaida.” Acosta’s office “struggled with the prosecution of seven men dubbed the Liberty City Seven on charges of conspiring to provide ‘material support’ to al Qaida,” and allegedly plotting a terrorist attack against Chicago’s Sears Tower and FBI offices. “In the end, five were convicted after three trials, but two were acquitted.” The mistrials were viewed as “a significant defeat for the Bush administration.”
  • Acosta’s office also bungled the prosecution of three men accused of plotting terrorist attacks in the United States, resulting in much lighter sentences than they could have received. Acosta’s office prosecuted “Jose Padilla, the Brooklyn-born convert to Islam who was once accused by the government of plotting to detonate a ‘dirty bomb’ in the United States.” He was only sentenced “to seventeen years and four months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to help Islamic jihadist fighters abroad.” In addition, the judge “gave lenient prison sentences to Mr. Padilla’s two co-defendants in the case, both of whom were, like Mr. Padilla, eligible for life in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.” This was “a blow to the government.”
  • Acosta supported tougher sentences for crack cocaine convictions than traditional cocaine convictions. Acosta supported longer sentences for crack cocaine convictions than for traditional cocaine convictions because, as he put it, there is “substantial proof that crack cocaine is associated with violence to a greater degree than other controlled substances, including powder cocaine.” He opposed reducing sentences for crack cocaine convictions, even though “analysts from both of the main political parties” concluded “penalties for crack cocaine were too harsh,” and “the tough guidelines often applied to low-level offenders and mostly affected minorities.”
  • In potential conflict with Trump and the National Rifle Association, Acosta expressed concerns about assault weapons. Acosta expressed concern about the destructive nature of assault weapons, saying they “get innocent bystanders,” and “a shooting that might have been an injury previously is now a death.”
  • Acosta has defended the civil rights of Muslim Americans–something that may rankle the feathers of Trump and hard-liners in his administration. “Acosta has defended the civil rights of Muslim Americans.” He was a “leader in the [Bush] administration’s response to the 9/11 backlash incidents.”
  • In apparent conflict with Trump’s ‘tough on crime’ rhetoric, Acosta has called on courts to reduce the sentences of some in prison from the death penalty to life in prison. Acosta sits on the Advisory Board for the Florida Capital Resource Center (FCRC), which assists “indigent defendants facing the death penalty by providing consultation, research, training, advocacy, and other necessary resources to capital defenders statewide.” FCRC, in 2016, signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief “advising the Florida Supreme Court to reduce the death sentences of all inmates awaiting execution to life in prison.”
  • Acosta set up a task force to prosecute Cuban embargo violators in an effort to bring about democracy in Cuba–interestingly, Trump has been accused of violating the Cuban embargo. In 2006, then-U.S. Attorney Acosta set up a task force to prosecute Cuban embargo violators “‘with the aim of hastening the transition to democracy in Cuba.’” Groups targeted by the task force included individuals violating the travel ban and those who sent money to relatives living in Cuba.
  • Acosta has argued that the U.S. is not responsible for terror-related deaths when stolen government property is used in a terrorist attack. S. Attorney Acosta, in a case involving a man who was poisoned with anthrax that came from the U.S. military, argued that the federal government is not responsible for terror-related deaths when stolen government property is used in a terrorist attack.
  • Acosta represented the U.S. in its fight to keep a pro-Tibetan activist from China from seeking asylum. S. Attorney Acosta, in 2006, represented the U.S. government against an appeal by a pro-Tibetan activist from China seeking asylum. The pro-Tibetan activist feared retribution if she was sent back to China. An appellate court ruled in favor of the activist.
  • Acosta’s office regularly represented the U.S. in its effort to send asylum seekers back to China when they feared retribution for China’s strict family planning policies. Acosta’s office regularly represented the U.S. government in its attempts to send asylum seekers back to China where they would face potential persecution under China’s family planning policies, including “forced sterilization.” In at least five cases appellate judges determined that the U.S. Government at least partially erred in the denial of asylum.

Views on Immigration and Other Issues of Importance to the Hispanic Community

  • In contrast to Trump’s hard line against immigrants, Acosta served on a commission that encouraged law enforcement to offer Miranda warnings in Spanish. Acosta serves on the American Bar Association’s Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Education Pipeline, which “works to improve diversity in the educational pipeline to the legal profession” by “increasing the number of people of color who are on track to become lawyers.” He is also the chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities, which “addresses key legal issues facing Hispanics throughout the U.S. such as voting rights, immigration, civil rights, and access to the courts.” The Commission urged “federal, state, local, and territorial law-enforcement authorities to provide a culturally, substantively, and accurate translation of the Miranda warning in Spanish.”
  • Acosta also supports providing courtroom translations in Spanish and all other languages. Acosta believes that individuals in the United States “who are native Spanish speakers” should “receive Miranda warnings in Spanish.” He “played a pivotal role in the Limited-English-Proficient (LEP) Guidance enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires recipients of federal financial assistance to provide language assistance to LEP persons,” and he is in favor of providing courtroom translations in Spanish and all other languages.
  • Unlike Trump, Acosta supports comprehensive immigration reform. Acosta is a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform. He said that the United States needs “individuals that are willing to use political capital . . . to take this on and to find real solutions that address both the issue of illegal immigration and a pathway to legal immigration.” He continued, “we need to figure out a way to address illegal immigration and give everyone a pathway to get here legally in a transparent way, and in a fair way,” and “part of that means figuring out what we do with all the individuals who are already in our nation. We need them here. They provide construction jobs. They provide agricultural jobs. We need to figure out a way to address that.”
  • In potential conflict with Trump, Acosta has said he’d keep an open mind on issues involving undocumented immigrants using the lawful papers of citizen siblings to leave and reenter the United States. Acosta, in 2007, “said he’s willing to keep an open mind on future prosecutions, including instances where an immigrant with lawful papers allows a sibling to borrow the documents to travel back home and then reenter the United States. Nonetheless, ‘Congress has passed this law, and we have an obligation to implement and enforce it,’ Acosta” said.
  • Acosta supports giving undocumented immigrants who are victims of human trafficking a chance to stay in the United States. Acosta supported giving undocumented immigrants who are victims of human trafficking “a chance to stay in the United States if they cooperate with law enforcement.”
  • Acosta believes undocumented workers are protected by National Labor Relations Act–a potential conflict with Trump. When Acosta was on the NLRB board he made it clear that he believes National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protections apply to undocumented workers. “He warned that the NLRB’s ‘continued commitment to prosecuting unfair labor practices directed against undocumented workers requires an understanding of the workplace and life realities faced by these individuals.’”
  • Acosta set up a task force to prosecute Cuban embargo violators in an effort to bring about democracy in Cuba–interestingly enough, Trump has been accused of violating the Cuban embargo. In 2006, then-U.S. Attorney Acosta set up a task force to prosecute Cuban embargo violators “‘with the aim of hastening the transition to democracy in Cuba.’” Groups targeted by the task force included individuals violating the travel ban and those who sent money to relatives living in Cuba.

FIU, The University of Florida, Gulliver Schools, and U.S. Bank

  • Acosta interviewed to be Dean of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, but was rejected after overwhelming opposition by law faculty–of which 74 percent said he was “unacceptable as a candidate.” When Acosta, in 2014, interviewed to be the Dean of the University of Florida Levin College of Law he was harshly criticized for a lack of academic writings, “hiring practices and case assignments at the Civil Rights Division . . . based on political affiliations,” and writing an unsolicited letter to put political pressure on “a federal judge in Ohio” in 2004 in which he justified “vote caging in the presidential election.” In the end “most of the [search] committee members could not support him because of overwhelmingly negative reaction by the law faculty. In a survey, 74 percent of the thirty-four faculty members participating in the survey said he was unacceptable as a candidate.”
  • In potential conflict with Trump, under Acosta’s leadership, FIU College of Law helped undocumented immigrants with filling out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications. The FIU College of Law, under the leadership of Acosta, proudly helped those who wanted to be a part of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) “determine if they qualify for the program” and assisted “them in filling out the DACA applications.” President Barack Obama’s DACA “gave work permits to immigrants brought to the U.S as children and living in the country illegally.” In fact, the FIU College of Law said on Twitter that its “law school students help young undocumented immigrants” and that it hosts workshops “to help undocumented young adults apply for DACA.”
  • Acosta is president and chairman of a board of trustees for a school twice sued for not paying overtime–an issue he certainly will face if confirmed. Acosta is the president and chairman of the Gulliver Schools Board of Trustees. Gulliver Schools was sued in 2013 and 2016 for not paying overtime. The cases were settled.
  • Acosta is president and chairman of a board of trustees for a school that was sued by former headmaster for age discrimination–again, an issue he certainly will face if confirmed. A former headmaster, in 2011, sued Gulliver Schools for “age discrimination and retaliation under the Florida Civil Rights Act” after his contract was not renewed. The case was settled.
  • Acosta is chairman of a Miami bank that received more than $50 million in TARP money and was sued by a competitor for abusing confidential information obtained by its former CEO. Acosta “has been chairman of U.S. Century Bank in Miami since late 2013. U.S. Century Bank received $50.2 million” in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds “in exchange for shares that taxpayers sold in March 2015 for . . . a $38.5 million loss, according to Treasury Department records.” U.S. Century Bank, in 2016, was sued by another bank that said the U.S. Century Bank CEO “used confidential information” from his previous job to recruit staff and potential clients for U.S. Century Bank, in violation of “confidentiality agreements . . . and [the] code of ethics.” The case was settled.

Conservative Washington, D.C., Insider

  • Acosta founded a right-wing legal advocacy organization that targeted judicial appointments of then president Bill Clinton. Acosta was the founder and director of the Project on the Judiciary, which was a socially conservative watchdog organization that advocated against so-called judicial activism. The project was created within the ultra-conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. Acosta specifically targeted President Bill Clinton’s judicial nominations while directing the project. The “need” for the Project on the Judiciary “apparently ended with the 2000 elections, when the project was terminated.”
  • Acosta expressed fear of a Supreme Court that wouldn’t advance the conservative view on issues like affirmative action, environmental regulation, background checks, aid to parochial school students, private school vouchers, and abortion. When Acosta was the director of the Project on the Judiciary he wrote that if Al Gore is elected president, liberal Supreme Court justices will “roll back the clock and undo” conservative decisions on affirmative action, environmental regulation, background checks, aid to parochial school students, private school vouchers, and abortion. “Unelected, life-tenured judges aren’t supposed to decide political issues, but sometimes when such a case is before them they must. In those circumstances, some judges follow the plain language of the Constitution. Others bend it to accommodate their own policy preferences. The Warren-Brennan Court chose to do the latter; the Rehnquist Court’s five-justice majority has by and large done the former. What the next court does will depend on who’s doing the appointing,” he wrote.
  • Acosta was a member of the “distinguished awards committee” for the radically anti-gay, anti-choice group, Family Research Council. Acosta, in 2000, was a member of the Family Research Council “distinguished awards committee,” which consisted of “leading pro-family legal scholars.” It ranked “the year’s most outrageous judicial decisions” and handed out “Court Jester Awards” to cases that did not align with the Family Research Council’s conservative beliefs. Cases regarding separation of church and state, same-sex marriage, school vouchers, and “transsexuals” were among the award recipients.
  • Acosta has been an active member of the powerful conservative legal group, the Federalist Society. Federalist Society member Acosta, in 2003 and 2004, was a “commentator” at the Federalist Society’s annual conferences. The Federalist Society “is one of the most powerful . . . organizations in the conservative orbit.”
  • Acosta has attended elite conservative political gatherings. Acosta attended a 2004 meeting of the Council for National Policy, which is a “little-known club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country.”
  • Acosta has contributed nearly $10,000 to conservative politicians like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and others over the years. Acosta contributed to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and Donald Trump, and the Senate campaign of Ted Cruz.
  • Acosta has a long track record of partisan political work, having helped George W. Bush with, among other activities, the Florida recount in 2000. Acosta did work on the Florida recount, campaign work in Pennsylvania, and “assisted” a George W. Bush transition team.
  • Acosta was a high-profile supporter of Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012. Acosta served on Mitt Romney’s 2012 National Hispanic Steering Committee and Justice Advisory Committee.

The Details

Record at the NLRB and on Labor-Related Issues 

When Acosta was on the NLRB board he made it clear that he believes National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protections apply to undocumented workers. “He warned that the NLRB’s ‘continued commitment to prosecuting unfair labor practices directed against undocumented workers requires an understanding of the workplace and life realities faced by these individuals.’”

“In Double D Construction Group, Inc., 339 NLRB 303 (2003), the discharge of an undocumented worker was determined by the NLRB to be lawful. The administrative law judge had discredited the worker’s testimony on the ground that he knowingly had used a false Social Security number to obtain employment. Acosta concurred in upholding the judge’s decision, but cautioned that the judge’s reasoning was overly broad because it would deny undocumented workers their NLRA . . . protections.” [Philip Rosen, Howard Bloom and Linda Carlozzi, “Labor Department Nominee’s Opinions as National Labor Relations Board Member, National Law Review, February 21, 2017.]

“Concurring with his majority colleagues” in this case, Alex “Acosta expressed a strong view on the rights of undocumented immigrant workers. Mr. Acosta explained that the Administrative Law Judge discredited an employee’s testimony because he had used a false Social Security number to apply for work, and concluded from that act that the employee might offer false testimony. Mr. Acosta firmly rejected this view, explaining that undocumented workers are statutory employees entitled to the protections of the NLRA. He stated that a blanket policy of discrediting any ‘once-undocumented worker, who to obtain work provides a false social security number,’ was inconsistent with the Act and that ‘such an automatic sanction makes it exceedingly difficulty for the General Counsel to establish an unlawful discharge or other unfair labor practice directed against an undocumented worker.’ While Mr. Acosta acknowledged that providing a false social security number is relevant to a credibility determination, he warned that the NLRB’s ‘continued commitment to prosecuting unfair labor practices directed against undocumented workers requires an understanding of the workplace and life realities faced by these individuals.’“ [Jaclyn Hamlin, “Clues and Cases from Alexander Acosta’s NLRB Tenure,” Employer Labor Relations (blog), Seyfarth Shaw LLP, February 24, 2017.]

NLRB member Acosta was the deciding vote to reverse precedent and allow employers to use a technicality to fire striking workers.

The NLRB, in 2003, heard arguments and issued a ruling in the case of Alexandria Clinic, P.A., which was a case that “reversed precedent and held that when a union provides 10-day advance notice of the date and time of its intent to strike . . . it may not, thereafter, unilaterally extend the commencement time of its strike.” In this case, the employer fired striking workers for commencing a strike at noon as opposed to the 8 a.m. start time the workers and management had previously agreed upon.

Acosta was one of the three NLRB members who held that the “employer did not violate the National Labor Relations Act when it terminated several employees who had gone out on strike” because workers may not “unilaterally extend the commencement time” after providing management “10-day advance notice.” [“Sixty-eighth Annual Report of the National Labor Relations Board For The Fiscal Year Ended September 30 2003,” National Labor Relations Board, 2003; and Philip Rosen, Howard Bloom and Linda Carlozzi, “Labor Department Nominee’s Opinions as National Labor Relations Board Member,”  National Law Review, February 21, 2017.]

“Mr. Acosta explained his view that the statutory language was clear and that ‘because the statutory language is unambiguous, we cannot depart from it.’ Mr. Acosta further warned against the dangers of ignoring the plain language of the statute–from increased litigation to uncertainty for employers.” [Jaclyn Hamlin, “Clues and Cases from Alexander Acosta’s NLRB Tenure,” Employer Labor Relations (blog), Seyfarth Shaw LLP, February 24, 2017.]

The two dissenting board members argued that “Congress envisioned a rule of reason,” the noon start was “within a reasonable time of the 8 a.m. time specified in the union’s strike notice,” and the employer violated the law “by discharging the strikers.” [“Sixty-eighth Annual Report of the National Labor Relations Board For The Fiscal Year Ended September 30 2003,” National Labor Relations Board, 2003, and Philip Rosen, Howard Bloom and Linda Carlozzi, “Labor Department Nominee’s Opinions as National Labor Relations Board Member,” National Law Review, February 21, 2017.]

NLRB board member Acosta sided with an employer who tried to influence a union election by posting an “implied threat to eliminate bonuses and overtime work if the Union won the election.”

Workers at Amveco Magnetics, Inc., in 2002, voted against forming a union. Acosta, in 2003, was part of a unanimous NLRB vote overruling a hearing officer who “found that a one-page document entitled ‘Thought for the Day or Don’t Be a Chump,’ which the Employer posted on a bulletin board, contained an implied threat to eliminate bonuses and overtime work if the Union won the election,” and therefore “recommended that the election be set aside and a new election conducted.” [Amveco Magnetics, Inc. and Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association, case 16–RC–10443, order April 4, 2003.]

Acosta co-authored an amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce arguing that the NLRB unfairly and “severely restricted an employer’s right to rebut the union’s presumption of majority support.”

Acosta, in 1996, co-authored an amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in support of the petitioners in Allentown Mack Sales & Service Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board. [Allentown Mack Sales & Service Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, Brief Amicus Curiae of the Chamber of Commerce, December 1996.]

In the case, “a number of Mack employees” made statements to the “new owners suggesting that Local Lodge 724 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, had lost the support of bargaining-unit members generally. Subsequently, Allentown refused Local 724’s request for recognition and commencement of collective-bargaining negotiations. Allentown, under” NLRB “precedent, claimed a good-faith reasonable doubt as to the union’s support in order to conduct an internal poll of employee support for the union.” [Allentown Mack Sales & Service, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, 522 U.S. 359 (1998), Oyez, accessed March 10, 2017.]

Acosta asked the court to settle the question as to whether an employer is “prohibited from conducting a secret-ballot, non-coercive poll of its employees to determine whether a majority of them support an incumbent union unless that employer already has obtained so much evidence of lack of majority support as to render the poll superfluous.” He argued that the NLRB only allowing a poll to test majority status for a union after “the employer already has so much other evidence of lack of majority support as to justify a withdrawal of recognition without a poll . . . severely restricted an employer’s right to rebut the union’s presumption of majority support.” [Allentown Mack Sales and Service Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, Brief Amicus Curiae of the Chamber of Commerce, December 1996.]

Acosta, while working at Kirkland & Ellis in the 1990s, represented a company that was trying to “avoid the obligations of past collective bargaining agreements” by operating “nonunion mines.”

A dispute between KenAmerican (KRI) and the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) “over jobs rights at the Muhlenberg County mine” in Kentucky went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The union “argued that KenAmerican is subject to” National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement (NBCWA) jobs provisions because Robert E. Murray “owns both unionized Ohio Valley Coal (OCCC) and–through intermediate firms–non-union KenAmerican.” Murray asserted “that the KenAmerican dispute cannot serve as a precedent for other union actions under the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1993 because of unique agreements with UMWA signed well before the NBCWA.” The case sought to determine “the proclivity of some companies to operate both union and nonunion mines, the latter allegedly to avoid the obligations of past collective bargaining agreements.”

“Jobs Monitor William J. Usery,” earlier in 1996, “ruled that KenAmerican was subject to NBCWA jobs provisions because of Murray’s position as ‘parent’ of both OVCC and KenAmerican.” The arbitrator “ordered Murray and the KenAmerican companies to ensure that three out of five new and existing classified jobs at KRI were filled with workers from Ohio Valley Coal.”

In 1996, “senior federal district court judge Louis Oberdorfer ruled in UMWA’s favor, upholding Usery’s order that KenAmerican must replace 60 percent of its work force with miners hired from panels of laid-off UMWA workers.” The appeal sought an injunction that would reverse the decision from the district court. The appellate court ruled in favor of KenAmerican and reversed the previous court’s decision.

Acosta of Kirkland & Ellis was counsel for KenAmerican and its subsidiary plaintiffs in the appeal. [“KenAmerican Dispute Heats Further; Murray Reveals 1993 Pact, Hires New Lawyers,” Coal Week, July 8, 1996; and KenAmerican Resources Inc., et al.  v. International Union United Mine Workers of America, No. 96-7101 (D.C. Cir. App. 1996).]

Record As the Head of the Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department and on Issues Related to Civil Rights

Acosta “did not have a problem with administration politics, former division staff lawyers say. They contend that during his two years as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the division became imbued with” a “politically charged atmosphere.” It “tilted to the right in personnel and political decision-making and took stands against minority voters’ rights.” During “that period, all hell broke in the Civil Rights Division,” said William Yeomans, a professor of law at American University and a former deputy section chief in the division under Acosta. “That was all under Acosta, he presided over the politicization of the civil rights division.”

The U.S. Senate investigated allegations that fired federal “prosecutors were ousted for not toeing the Bush administration line in political prosecutions. As for Acosta’s ascent, he did not have a problem with administration politics, former division staff lawyers say. They contend that during his two years as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the division became imbued with the same politically charged atmosphere for which the department” was “under scrutiny” in 2007. “The division tilted to the right in personnel and political decision-making and took stands against minority voters’ rights, which was against the advice of the career staff lawyers, they say.” [Tony Doris, “Local U.S. Attorney Brought Politics to Justice, Staffers Say,” Palm Beach Post, July 22, 2007.]

In “that period, all hell broke in the Civil Rights Division,” said William Yeomans, a professor of law at American University and a former deputy section chief in the division under Acosta. “That was all under Acosta, he presided over the politicization of the civil rights division.”

“It’s not as if Alex didn’t know what was going on,” Yeomans said. “I’m confident that he approved, it was part of the political goals of the political appointees to purge the civil rights division of what they thought were a bunch of leftists.” [Adam Serwer, “The Scandal That May Haunt the New Nominee for Labor Secretary,” Atlantic, February 16, 2017.]

When Acosta was the Justice Department’s civil rights chief, the division “was plagued by scandal, largely due to leadership that was intent on keeping ‘commies’ and ‘crazy libs’ off the staff,” according to an inspector general report. “Ideological considerations permeated the hiring process at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.” Acosta blamed a subordinate for these problems and “said he was not aware” the subordinate “acted inappropriately in the hiring process,” even though the Special Litigation Section chief said, “she complained directly to Acosta about” the subordinate hiring unqualified applicants. The inspector general said the subordinate “considered political and ideological affiliations in hiring career attorneys and in other personnel actions affecting career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division. In doing so, he violated federal law–the Civil Service Reform Act–and Department policy that prohibit discrimination in federal employment based on political and ideological affiliations, and committed misconduct,” and that Acosta “failed to exercise sufficient oversight.” The subordinate claimed he “didn’t have the final decision-making authority in hiring decisions,” and that Acosta had the “final decision-making authority” on such matters.

Alex “Acosta’s tenure as the Justice Department’s civil rights chief . . . came back to haunt him . . . when the inspector general issued a report excoriating a manager who had served under him, Bradley Schlozman. Schlozman was cited for favoring conservative job applicants and keeping liberal lawyers off major cases.” [Jay Weaver and Luisa Yanez, “U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta to Lead FIU Law School,” Miami Herald, May 28, 2009.]

The division when Acosta was chief, “was plagued by scandal, largely due to leadership that was intent on keeping ‘commies’ and ‘crazy libs’ off the staff,” as the “2009 inspector general report documented.” [Michael Selmi, “A Lame Civil Rights Record,” Politico Magazine, September 4, 2014.]

“Ideological considerations permeated the hiring process at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division,” according to the department’s inspector general.

Former deputy assistant attorney general Bradley Schlozman “sought to hire ‘real Americans’ and Republicans for career posts and prominent case assignments.”

“The extensive study of hiring practices between 2001 and 2007 concluded” that politically appointed Schlozman “improperly weeded out candidates based on their perceived ties to liberal organizations.” He favored employees who shared his political views and derided others as ‘libs’ and ‘pinkos,’ the report said.” [Carrie Johnson, “Report Says Ideology Was Major Factor in Justice Dept. Hiring,” Washington Post, January 14, 2009.]

“Of sixty-five lawyers whom Schlozman hired from 2003 to 2006 and whose political affiliations were evident, sixty-three, or 97 percent, were Republicans or conservatives and only two were Democrats or liberal, it said.” [Greg Gordon, “Internal Probe Slams Bush Justice Official for Illegal Hiring,” McClatchy Newspapers, January 13, 2009.]

“Acosta said he was not aware that Schlozman acted inappropriately in the hiring process.” He “said no one complained to him that inappropriate hiring practices were taking place. However, Special Litigation Section Chief Shanetta Cutlar” said “she complained directly to Acosta about Schlozman’s intent to hire as her deputy an applicant whom she considered unqualified even for a line attorney position. Cutlar said she also told Acosta that Schlozman had hired a number of applicants she considered unqualified, although she told us she was not ‘bold enough’ to tell Acosta she believed Schlozman was considering applicants’ political and ideological affiliations in making hiring decisions.”

“Acosta, on the other hand,” said “he had no recollection of Cutlar complaining to him about Schlozman’s hiring practices.”

“The evidence in our investigation showed that Schlozman, first as a deputy assistant attorney general and subsequently as principal deputy assistant attorney general and acting assistant attorney general, considered political and ideological affiliations in hiring career attorneys and in other personnel actions affecting career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division. In doing so, he violated federal law–the Civil Service Reform Act–and Department policy that prohibit discrimination in federal employment based on political and ideological affiliations, and committed misconduct. The evidence also showed that division managers failed to exercise sufficient oversight to ensure that Schlozman did not engage in inappropriate hiring and personnel practices,” the inspector general said. [“An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility, July 2, 2008, (released publicly January 13, 2009).]

The inspector general report concluded “that senior managers in the Civil Rights Division, including” Acosta, “‘failed to exercise sufficient oversight to ensure that Schlozman did not engage in inappropriate hiring and personnel practices.’” [Greg Gordon, “Report Cites Bias by Justice Officials,” Contra Costa (CA) Times, January 13, 2009.]

“The report’s release was delayed by more than six months after inspector general agents referred the case for possible prosecution by authorities in the District. But prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office declined to pursue the matter.” [Carrie Johnson, “Report Says Ideology Was Major Factor in Justice Dept. Hiring,” Washington Post, January 14, 2009.]

Acosta defended himself by telling the Office of the Inspector General that “when he served as AAG, he delegated hiring authority” to one of his deputies, who in turn delegated hiring to Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bradley Schlozman. [“An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility, July 2, 2008, (released publicly January 13, 2009).]

However, Bradley Schlozman claimed he “didn’t have the final decision-making authority in hiring decisions.” He said Acosta had the “final decision-making authority in hiring decisions.” [“U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Holds a Hearing on the U.S. Attorney Firings,” June 5, 2007.]

Alex “Acosta acknowledged that during his tenure as AAG he became aware of some problems with Schlozman’s management approach and conduct. He said Schlozman was ‘very loose with his language’ and sometimes made inappropriate jokes.” [“An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility, July 2, 2008, (released publicly January 13, 2009).]

“Acosta said he became more concerned about Schlozman’s judgment around the time he was preparing to leave the Division in mid-2005 as a result of discussions Acosta had with retiring Voting Section Chief Joseph Rich about Schlozman’s management. Yet, Acosta took no action to alert those in his chain of command.” [“An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility, July 2, 2008, (released publicly January 13, 2009).]

Lawyers in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division left in droves when Acosta was in charge of the division.

According to Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez, more than 70 percent of the attorneys in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice left between 2003 and 2007. [Newsweek Staff, “How Bush Watered Down Civil-Rights Enforcement,” Newsweek, December 9, 2009.]

“From 2003 to 2006, only 42 percent of new hires in the Civil Rights Division had civil rights experience, compared with 77 percent of new hires in the two years prior,” and “eleven out of forty-five lawyers hired in that period were members of the Federalist Society,” a conservative think tank, while “seven were members of the Republican National Lawyers Association.” During this period “the Civil Rights Division brought far fewer voting rights cases or cases involving employment bias against black people than before, and more cases alleging discrimination against white people or Christians.”

“From 2003 to 2006, only 42 percent of new hires in the Civil Rights Division had civil rights experience, compared with 77 percent of new hires in the two years prior, according to an investigation by The Boston Globe. The Globe report, for which reporters obtained hundreds of pages of hiring data from an open records request, also found that the new hires’ credentials skewed political. Eleven out of forty-five lawyers hired in that period were members of the Federalist Society, a conservative thinktank [sic], and seven were members of the Republican National Lawyers Association. During the same time period, The Globe reported, the Civil Rights Division brought far fewer voting rights cases or cases involving employment bias against black people than before, and more cases alleging discrimination against white people or Christians. Morale among career civil rights attorneys became so low, some complained to The Globe, that a 2005 buyout offered led to sixty-three resignations–twice the average number since the late 1990s.” [Molly Redden, “Trump Labor Pick Was Singled Out in Inquiry over Politicized Hiring; Alexander Acosta, the New Nominee for Labor Secretary, Led the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division as It Faced Attacks over Enforcement Actions,” Guardian, February 16, 2017.]

When Acosta was the division chief the Justice Department did not “file a single suit alleging that local or state laws or election rules diluted the votes of African Americans.”

“Former voting rights section lawyers said that during the tenure of Acosta, who served as the division chief from the fall of 2003 until he was named interim U.S. attorney in Miami in the summer of 2005, the department didn’t file a single suit alleging that local or state laws or election rules diluted the votes of African Americans. In a similar time period, the Clinton administration filed six such cases.” [Greg Gordon, Margaret Talev, and Marisa Taylor McClatchy, “U.S. Attorney Probe Raises Civil Rights Issues,” Sacramento Bee, March 24, 2007.]

When Acosta ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division it approved a plan allowing Texas to redraw congressional district lines, which led to five Republicans being added to the state’s congressional delegation. “Eight career Justice Department employees assigned to review the plan in 2003 unanimously concluded that it violated the Voting Rights Act” by “illegally reduc[ing] black and Hispanic voting strength.”

Texas, in 2003, “threw aside the longstanding tradition that new lines are drawn only every ten years, after the census,” and redrew congressional district lines “to increase the number of Republican districts. It worked. The number of Republicans in the delegation went to twenty-one from sixteen, helping to entrench Mr. [Tom] DeLay as majority leader.”

“The eight career Justice Department employees assigned to review the plan in 2003 unanimously concluded that it violated the Voting Rights Act. But political appointees at Justice overruled their objections and approved it anyway.” [Editorial, “Redistricting Tom DeLay,” New York Times, December 14, 2005.]

The Justice Department approved the plan when “political appointees overruled the unanimous conclusion of six lawyers and two analysts in the voting rights section who had concluded that the new lines illegally reduced black and Hispanic voting strength.” [Editorial, “The Texas Gerrymander,” New York Times, March 1, 2006.]

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said, “one of the top assistants to then-attorney general John Ashcroft–Sheldon Bradshaw–overruled the staff and approved the plan for use in the 2004 Texas elections.” Sheldon “Bradshaw . . . was appointed to the second-in-command spot in the Civil Rights Division under Acosta, who had helped Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign in the Florida vote recount. Bradshaw took command of the Texas redistricting case when Acosta recused himself. Acosta . . . in congressional testimony refused to say why he removed himself from Texas redistricting. ‘I do believe that my recusal was appropriate, that it was the right thing for me to do. I have very able deputies, good deputies, and I have full confidence in their decision-making process,’ Acosta said in the March 2004 congressional hearing.” [R.G. Ratcliffe and Michael Hedges, “Political Appointees Had Final Say on Redistricting,” Houston Chronicle, December 3, 2005.]

At the Justice Department, Acosta took “an unusual step of writing a letter to an Ohio judge four days before the 2004 election” in support of “Republican plans to place poll monitors in predominantly black neighborhoods, which critics claimed was a violation of the Voting Rights Act.” Some “former Justice Department civil rights officials and election watchdog groups” charged that Acosta’s “letter sided with Republicans engaging in an illegal, racially motivated tactic known as ‘vote-caging.’”

At the Justice Department, Acosta “took what some say was an unusual step of writing a letter to an Ohio judge four days before the 2004 election. The judge was hearing a lawsuit challenging Republican plans to place poll monitors in predominantly black neighborhoods, which critics claimed was a violation of the Voting Rights Act. Acosta, who was an assistant attorney general at the time, said in the letter that there was ‘nothing in the Voting Rights Act’ that condemns the use of poll monitors, which supporters said would help eliminate voter fraud but which critics viewed as voter intimidation.” [Jonnelle Marte, “Five Things to Know about Alexander Acosta, Trump’s New Pick for Labor Secretary,” Washington Post, February 18, 2017.]

Alex “Acosta wrote to the judge to advise her that ‘nothing in the Voting Rights Act facially condemns challenge statutes.’ The Justice Department said poll watchers can aid election officials in eliminating fraud by spotting and weeding out people who should not have their ballots counted.”

“Civil rights lawyers for the Bush administration’s Justice Department . . . notified a federal judge that they see no conflict with Republican plans to post thousands of partisan challengers in Ohio polling places on Election Day. The Justice Department’s letter” was “to U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott,” who was “presiding over a closely watched pre-election lawsuit” that claimed Republican plans “to station challengers in the polls” violated “the U.S. Constitution and the 1965 Voting Rights Act because it” targeted “black neighborhoods in Hamilton County.” Judge Dlott was “considering whether to bar challengers, also known as poll watchers, on grounds they are little more than a partisan army for intimidating newly registered voters in black neighborhoods across the state.”

Republican officials said “precincts where challengers will be present were selected because those locations voted heavily Democrat when George Bush ran against Al Gore in 2000. They said the effort to monitor poll sites–many in minority neighborhoods of Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati–[was] designed to check questionable voter registrations and weed out fraud.” [Bill Sloat, “Justice Dept. Letter Backs Poll Watchers,” Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), October 31, 2004.]

“Former Justice Department civil rights officials and election watchdog groups” charged that Acosta’s “letter sided with Republicans engaging in an illegal, racially motivated tactic known as ‘vote-caging’ in a state that would be pivotal in delivering President Bush a second term.” For example, “Joseph Rich, a former chief of the department’s Voting Rights Section, called the Ohio scheme ‘vote caging.’” [Greg Gordon, “Ex-Justice Official Accused of Aiding Scheme to Scratch Minority Voters,” McClatchy, June 25, 2007.]

“The move was considered ‘problematic’ by a team vetting Acosta when he was being considered for the role of dean at the University of Florida’s law school in 2014, and contributed to him not getting the job, according to The Miami Herald. The letter made it appear as if the Justice Department was ‘putting political pressure on the judge,’ University of Florida law professor Michelle Jacobs told The Herald.” [Jonnelle Marte, “Five Things to Know about Alexander Acosta, Trump’s New Pick for Labor Secretary,” Washington Post, February 18, 2017.]

Acosta did defend “a legal challenge to federal access rules for people with limited English skills. He also helped enforce voting rights law for non-English speakers.”

In 2003 “the usually liberal Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund gave an award to Acosta for his work at Justice, successfully defending a legal challenge to federal access rules for people with limited English skills. He also helped enforce voting rights law for non-English speakers.” [Tom Brune, “Advocates Split Over Civil Rights Nominee; White House Backs Conservative Hispanic,” Newsday, July 7, 2003.]

When Acosta ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division it investigated a case in Louisiana in which two police officers shot and killed an unarmed black man. The investigation concluded that the officers committed no wrongdoing.

“A yearlong federal inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the March 15, 2003, shooting of Marquise Hudspeth by two Shreveport police officers following a vehicular chase . . . concluded that federal criminal civil rights charges will not be pursued. The decision was announced by U.S. Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Acosta and United States Attorney Donald Washington. The investigation, conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was reviewed by the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana.”

“In order to establish a criminal violation under federal civil rights law, the evidence must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the force used by the police was excessive under the circumstances, and, if so, applied ‘willfully,’ that is, with a bad purpose to violate the law. Police actions prompted by mistake, misperception, fear, or bad judgment do not constitute a willful violation of a victim’s civil rights. ’Bound by this standard, the evidence does not disclose a prosecutable violation of federal law,’ Washington stated.”

“Unlike most cases that often involve conflicting testimony from witnesses and require a judgment to be made about whose recollection is most accurate, these events were captured on the patrol car videotapes. ‘The patrol car camera video recordings indicate that Mr. Hudspeth twice took a two-handed shooting stance while pointing a metallic-looking object–which turned out to be a cell phone–at one or more of the officers. Our review of the videos also confirm that an officer once ducked behind a car door, and once appeared to duck downward when Mr. Hudspeth pointed the object at him. Further, no officer fired a weapon until Mr. Hudspeth turned and pointed the object at a police officer. Thus, the video recordings support the conclusion that the officers believed that Mr. Hudspeth intended to shoot them or their fellow officers. No other evidence was sufficient or credible to support an opposing conclusion,’ Washington stated.” [U.S. Department of Justice, news release, March 30, 2004.]

When Acosta ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division it reviewed an incident in Pennsylvania in which a police officer shot in the back a 12-year-old boy on Christmas Eve, and concluded that the officer was “justified in the shooting.”

“Two state troopers involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed, 12-year-old Uniontown boy on Christmas Eve 2002 will not be charged with any crimes, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced” after “Buchanan and Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta, of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said evidence gathered during a 23-month review of Michael Ellerbe’s killing did not support federal criminal charges.”

“Ellerbe was shot in the back after police pursued the stolen Ford Bronco he was driving, then chased him on foot. The bullet pierced large arteries near his heart. The federal prosecutors concurred with a Fayette County coroner’s jury, which found after an inquest that Troopers Samuel Nassan and Juan Curry were justified in the shooting because they had called for Ellerbe to stop and he didn’t obey. Curry said his gun accidentally discharged as he climbed a fence, and then he fell. Hearing the shot and seeing his partner fall, Nassan believed Ellerbe had shot Curry, so he shot Ellerbe.”

“Buchanan said the evidence indicated the troopers believed Ellerbe might have had a gun, and that the trooper who fired the fatal shot believed the boy had shot at his partner first. ‘Although the results of the investigation indicated that both of these beliefs turned out to be erroneous, there was evidence indicating that these beliefs were held in good faith,’ Buchanan said.” [Chris Osher, “Troopers Won’t Be Charged in Death,” Pittsburgh Tribune Review, May 9, 2012.]

Record as a U.S. Attorney and on Issues Related to Crime

Acosta had “little courtroom experience” when he was appointed the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and had only “argued two cases in his career.”

“Despite his polished resume, Acosta . . . [brought] relatively little courtroom experience to . . . [the] job.” He had “argued two cases in his career, both federal appeals.” [Vanessa Blum, “South Florida Man Keeps Job As a U.S. Attorney,” Sun-Sentinel (Broward County, FL), June 10, 2006.]

When Acosta was the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida there was a “lack of diversity in hiring and promotion” in the office.

When Acosta was picked to be dean of the law school at FIU the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP sent a letter expressing “worries that Acosta won’t have a diverse faculty” due to his “‘lack of diversity in hiring and promotion while serving as U.S. attorney.’“ The letter said, “‘Mr. Acosta’s lack of diversity in hiring and promotion while serving as U.S. attorney gives cause for concern for his consideration as dean of FIU’s College of Law.’“ [Jay Weaver and Luisa Yanez, “U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta to Lead FIU Law School,” Miami Herald, May 28, 2009.]

It appears that Acosta’s office for many years Illegally spied on defense lawyers “by illegally and secretly obtaining copies of confidential defense documents.”

“Court papers filed . . . by attorneys for Dr. Salo Schapiro” in 2016 contended that “it was apparently an ‘office-wide policy’ of both the [Miami] U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI” to spy “on a defendant’s lawyer by illegally and secretly obtaining copies of confidential defense documents,” and that the spying went “on for ‘at least ten years.’

“The unwritten policy” involved “‘surreptitiously copying defense counsel’s work product through the government-contracted copy service that the government requires defense counsel to use to obtain the discovery documents’ needed to properly prepare for trial.”

“Specifically, the court papers allege that Fort Lauderdale-based copying service Imaging Universe and President Ignacio E. Montero provided the government with CDs containing duplicates of documents Schapiro’s defense team culled from 220 boxes of evidentiary records in preparation for trial. Federal agents had seized those records from the mental-health clinic Biscayne Milieu, where Schapiro worked.”

“The government’s . . . response acknowledged that Imaging Universe did supply the FBI with duplicate CDs of what the company had copied for Schapiro’s defense team, but said the discs ‘were never requested by any agent, prosecutor or anyone else on the government’s behalf.’”

Assistant U.S. Attorney James “Hayes, the federal prosecutor on Schapiro’s case, first informed [defense attorney Howard] Srebnick and his associate that agent [Deanne] Lindsey ‘had been surreptitiously receiving the CDs’ . . . according to the defense motion.”

Defense lawyer Rossana “Arteaga-Gomez phoned” Imaging Universe President Ignacio Montero “to ask who had told him to provide copies of the CDs to the government. Montero, the motion says, answered that an ‘agent’ told his office manager to do it. ‘Mr. Montero then stated that he had been providing to the U.S. attorney’s office for the past ten years duplicate copies of the discovery documents selected by defense counsel in other cases.’”

“Montero also forwarded to Schapiro’s defense an . . . email he sent to a healthcare-fraud paralegal in the U.S. attorney’s office, stating that he’d provided the Justice Department with duplicates of defense records ‘since 2006.’ Montero added that both his old company, Xpediacopy, and Imaging Universe had done it.

If so, the alleged government misconduct spanned the administrations of three Miami U.S. Attorneys– Acosta, who served from 2005-2009, Jeffrey Sloman acting U.S. Attorney from 2009-2010, and Wifredo Ferrer, who took over in May 2010.” [Dan Christensen, “Medicare Fraud Defense Team Accuses Miami Feds of ‘Spying’,” Miami Herald, June 4, 2016.]

“A federal judge reprimanded prosecutors” in Acosta’s office and “ordered the U.S. government . . . to pay a defendant more than $600,000, saying members of the man’s defense team had been secretly recorded in a questionable . . . investigation.” The judge wrote, “‘these events are profoundly disturbing,’” and “‘they raise troubling issues about the integrity of those who wield enormous power over the people they prosecute.’”

“A federal judge reprimanded prosecutors” in Acosta’s office and “ordered the U.S. government . . . to pay a defendant more than $600,000, saying members of the man’s defense team had been secretly recorded in a questionable witness-tampering investigation. In a strongly worded, fifty-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold said three prosecutors and a Drug Enforcement Administration agent acted ‘vexatiously and in bad faith’ in the case of Dr. Ali Shaygan, who was acquitted . . . of 141 counts of illegally prescribing painkillers.

“Gold also faulted prosecutors for failing to obtain permission from supervisors in the U.S. attorney’s office before authorizing two witnesses to record conversations with Shaygan attorney David O. Markus and his investigator. None of the information was turned over to the defense, Gold noted, including the fact that the two witnesses were cooperating with the government.

“‘These events are profoundly disturbing,’ Gold wrote. ‘They raise troubling issues about the integrity of those who wield enormous power over the people they prosecute.’”

“Miami U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta, an appointee of former president George W. Bush, issued a statement acknowledging errors in the Shaygan case and noting that the matter has been referred to the Justice Department for possible disciplinary action. The statement said steps were taken to ensure the situation isn’t repeated.”

“Gold ruled that the U.S. government must pay Shaygan $601,795 in legal fees and costs and reprimanded the U.S. attorney’s office as well as prosecutors Sean Cronin, Karen Gilbert, and Andrea Hoffman.” [Curt Anderson, “Judge Orders US to Pay $600K for Taping Defense,” Associated Press, April 9, 2009.]

Acosta’s office tried “suspected Cuban cigar counterfeiters” after an investigation that was initiated and partially funded by the company’s major competitor. Critics of the prosecution speculated that the case was an effort to secure an advantageous position in the American cigar market after the Cuban embargo is lifted. Acosta’s office kept the competitor who partially funded the investigation up to date on trial activities after their part in the case had ended. The trial raised “controversial issues about the integrity of the investigation,” in part because it is uncommon for investigations to be privately funded. Of three federal cases brought about by Acosta’s office in this matter, one defendant received a lenient sentence that did not involve prison time. Another was dropped before trial.

Altadis U.S.A. “paid tens of thousands of dollars to fund part of an undercover Miami-Dade Police probe of five suspects charged with trafficking in counterfeit cigars, court records show.” The Miami-Dade Police Department “normally funds its own investigations,” but the company “fronted at least $17,750 to police for five undercover ‘buys’ of allegedly fake Cuban cigars, boxes, and labeling materials in three separate cases,” and paid “the bill for hauling away and storing seized materials for the upcoming trials.” The investigation “included an undercover buy of sixty wooden boxes of Dominican Republic-made cigars–though the boxes said ‘made in Cuba.’ Altadis gave police the $3,000 for that purchase.” [Jay Weaver, “Cigar Firm Funded Probe; A Case Concerning Fake Cuban Cigars That Goes to Trial Today in Miami Federal Court Is Likely to Raise a Host of Controversial Issues,” Miami Herald, October 10, 2006; and Jay Weaver, “Hialeah Man Guilty of Selling Fake Cigars; The First of Three Cuban Cigar Counterfeiting Cases Ended with a Guilty Verdict in Miami Federal Court,” Miami Herald, October 14, 2006.]

“E-mails show that detectives and federal prosecutors kept Altadis in the loop on the status of the investigation. A prosecutor in the [Miami] U.S. Attorney’s Office told Altadis’ lawyers, an Altadis private investigator, and police exactly when he was going to present the counterfeit indictments to the Miami federal grand jury.”

Altadis U.S.A. is a subsidiary of Altadis S.A., which “controls half the Castro government’s cigar entity.” It “says it avoids any violation of the U.S. trade embargo by selling Cuban-made cigars in Europe and by using the Fort Lauderdale subsidiary to sell Dominican Republic-made cigars in the United States.”

The defense attorneys asserted that Altadis “cannot protect its Cuban cigar trademarks in the United States because of the U.S. trade embargo” and that “their clients–who obtain their tobacco from Honduras and package their ‘Cuban’ cigars in Miami-Dade–cannot be charged with counterfeiting products with trademarks that do not legally exist in the United States.” One of the defense attorneys also “accused Altadis of trying to ‘buy’ a criminal investigation from police for one purpose: to crush the alleged counterfeiters so the company can monopolize the U.S. market for Cuban cigars after Fidel Castro dies.”

During the pretrial hearing, “U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno poked fun at a federal prosecutor, saying the U.S. attorney’s office was treating the cigar counterfeit case like a major cocaine-smuggling prosecution.” [Jay Weaver, “Cigar Firm Funded Probe; A Case Concerning Fake Cuban Cigars That Goes to Trial Today in Miami Federal Court Is Likely to Raise a Host of Controversial Issues,” Miami Herald, October 10, 2006.]

“The first of three federal trials, set for today, raises controversial issues about the integrity of the investigation, the fake Cuban cigar market, and the U.S. trade embargo against the Castro government.” [Jay Weaver, “Cigar Firm Funded Probe; A Case Concerning Fake Cuban Cigars That Goes to Trial Today in Miami Federal Court Is Likely to Raise a Host of Controversial Issues,” Miami Herald, October 10, 2006.]

Three cases were brought to court by Acosta’s office as a result of this investigation. One defendant was found guilty and sentenced to “five months of home confinement” after prosecutors originally sought five years in prison. Acosta’s office dropped charges against another defendant “after determining there were flaws in the prosecution on the eve of trial.” [Jay Weaver, “Hialeah Man Guilty of Selling Fake Cigars; The First of Three Cuban Cigar Counterfeiting Cases Ended with a Guilty Verdict in Miami Federal Court,” Miami Herald, October 14, 2006; Weaver, “Charges Dropped in Cigar Case,” Miami Herald, October 31, 2006; and Weaver, “Hialeah Man Sentenced for Counterfeit Cigars,” Miami Herald, December 21, 2006.]

Acosta made “obscenity” a top prosecutorial target. “Not pornography involving children, but pornographic material featuring consenting adults.” Pornography was “a major concern for the Bush administration’s powerful Christian conservative supporters.”

“When FBI supervisors in Miami met with new . . . U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta . . . they wondered what the top enforcement priority for Acosta and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would be. Would it be terrorism? Organized crime? Narcotics trafficking? Immigration? Or maybe public corruption? The agents were stunned to learn that a top prosecutorial priority of Acosta and the Department of Justice was none of the above. Instead, Acosta told them, it’s obscenity. Not pornography involving children, but pornographic material featuring consenting adults.

“Acosta’s stated goal of prosecuting distributors of adult porn . . . angered federal and local law enforcement officials, as well as prosecutors in his own office. They say there are far more important issues in a high-crime area like South Florida . . . including porn involving children. According to high-level sources who did not want to be identified, Acosta has assigned prosecutors porn cases over their objections.

“With the rapid growth of Internet pornography, stamping out obscene material . . . [had] become a major concern for the Bush administration’s powerful Christian conservative supporters. The Mississippi-based American Family Association and other Christian conservative groups . . . pressured the Justice Department to take action against pornography. The family association . . . sent weekly letters to U.S. attorneys around the country to pressure them to pursue the makers and distributors of pornography.” [Julie Kay, “U.S. Attorney’s Porn Fight Gets Bad Reviews,” Daily Business Review, August 30, 2005.]

Lawyers in Acosta’s office “suspected billionaire Jeffrey Epstein abused” thirty-four underage girls “but they failed to charge him and instead offered him a secret plea bargain.” Epstein, who socialized with Donald Trump and other politicians, “pleaded guilty to state charges in Palm Beach County” and “escaped what should have been serious prison time” after admitting “he hired local underage girls for erotic massages and sex at his South Florida mansion.” The Palm Beach Post said the plea “deal is an indictment of a system that did much more for a criminal than for his victims.” Acosta acknowledged that Epstein’s “‘highly unusual treatment’” in jail and the fact that he “was allowed to leave the jail six days a week during the day to work at his West Palm Beach office for several hours on a work-release program . . . ’ undermined the purpose of a jail sentence.’” Making matters worse, it does not appear that Acosta’s office seriously investigated Epstein before Epstein was given a slap on the wrist.

Federal “prosecutors suspected billionaire Jeffrey Epstein abused” thirty-four underage girls “but they failed to charge him and instead offered him a secret plea bargain, court documents  . . . revealed.” [Julian Robinson, “Prosecutors Suspected Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein Abused Thirty-Four Underage Girls but They Failed to Charge Him and Instead Offered Him a Secret Plea Bargain, Court Documents Reveal,” Daily Mail (UK), July 8, 2015.]

Epstein, a billionaire who “made his fortune as a money manager,” was “suspected of sexually abusing . . . [the] young women, courts record show.” [Paula McMahon, “Billionaire Sex Offender’s ‘Sweetheart Deal’ Violated Our Rights, Victims Tell Feds,” Sun-Sentinel (Broward County, FL), January 2, 2016.]

Jeffrey Epstein, who socialized with Donald Trump and other politicians, “pleaded guilty to state charges in Palm Beach County in July 2008 and admitted he hired local underage girls for erotic massages and sex at his South Florida mansion. He was jailed for thirteen months of an eighteen-month sentence and served a year of house arrest.”

Acosta “headed” the Southern District of Florida office “when the decision was made” to offer Epstein a plea bargain. [Paula McMahon, “Billionaire Sex Offender’s ‘Sweetheart Deal’ Violated Our Rights, Victims Tell Feds,” Sun-Sentinel (Broward County, FL), January 2, 2016.]

The Palm Beach Post said the plea “deal is an indictment of a system that did much more for a criminal than for his victims. Jeffrey Epstein–officially a registered sex offender but in plain terms a pervert–escaped what should have been serious prison time. Instead, the federal deal allowed him to plead guilty to light charges in state court. He spent just thirteen months–nights only–in the Palm Beach County Jail.” [Editorial, “Sleazy Perp, Sleazier Deal,” Palm Beach Post, September 22, 2009.]

Epstein’s lawyers “succeeded in delaying letters being sent out to his alleged victims informing them that their cases were not being pursued. The letters were sent out the month after the plea deal was struck which gave him immunity from further prosecution.”

This has “fueled speculation that the girls involved were kept in the dark about the arrangement. Epstein’s lawyers demanded that letters to victims informing them their cases were not being pursued were not issued [sic]. One of them wrote to prosecutors, “‘We . . . strongly and emphatically object to . . . sending a letter . . . to the alleged victims.’ He added that it would be ‘incendiary and inappropriate’ to send the letter and told of his fears of a leak to the press. In a response days later . . . Acosta said he would be ‘directing our prosecutors not to issue victim notification letters until this Friday at 5pm’ so Epstein’s lawyers could ‘review’ their options over the plea deal. The documents show some alleged victims were only notified after the plea deal was arranged.” [Julian Robinson, “Prosecutors Suspected Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein Abused Thirty-Four Underage Girls but They Failed to Charge Him and Instead Offered Him a Secret Plea Bargain, Court Documents Reveal,” Daily Mail (UK), July 8, 2015.]

“Two underage victims of Palm Beach billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein . . . filed court papers asking to depose top federal officials who were involved in inking the secret deal that saved Epstein from serious federal charges. FBI agents, current and former federal prosecutors, and Alexander Acosta, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, are named in the motion filed by attorneys Brad Edwards and Paul Cassell on behalf of [plaintiffs] Jane Doe No. 1 and Jane Doe No. 2.” [Michele Dargan, “Sex-Abuse Victims Want to Depose Feds Involved in Jeffrey Epstein Deal,” Palm Beach Daily News, January 1, 2016.]

The “two women suing the U.S. government over” the deal cut with Jeffrey Epstein demanded “that FBI agents and prosecutors–including the top federal prosecutor for Southern Florida at the time–be required to testify about whether victims were deliberately kept in the dark about provisions of the controversial plea bargain” for Epstein. The “top federal prosecutor for Southern Florida at the time” was Acosta. [Josh Gerstein, “Victims in Underage Sex Case Want Prosecutors to Testify,” Politico, December 26, 2015.]

Acosta defended his actions in the matter saying, “‘Our judgment in this case, based on the evidence known at the time, was that it was better to have a billionaire serve time in jail, register as a sex offender, and pay his victims restitution than risk a trial with a reduced likelihood of success.’“ [Paula McMahon, “Billionaire Sex Offender’s ‘Sweetheart Deal’ Violated Our Rights, Victims Tell Feds,” Sun-Sentinel (Broward County, FL), January 2, 2016.]

Acosta also said, “‘Many victims have spoken out, filing detailed statements in civil cases seeking damages. Physical evidence has been discovered.’“ He added, “‘had these additional statements and evidence been known’“ at the time of the plea bargain, “‘the outcome may have been different.’“ [Rosa Prince, “Billionaire Sex Abuser Jeffrey Epstein Could Face More Charges after Alleged Victims Win Legal Victory,” Telegraph (UK), June 4, 2014.]

Acosta did acknowledge that Epstein’s “‘highly unusual treatment’“ in jail, and being “allowed to leave the jail six days a week during the day to work at his West Palm Beach office for several hours on a work-release program . . . ‘undermined the purpose of a jail sentence.’“ [Paula McMahon, “Billionaire Sex Offender’s ‘Sweetheart Deal’ Violated Our Rights, Victims Tell Feds,” Sun-Sentinel (Broward County, FL), January 2, 2016.]

Acosta plea bargained two men who held an underage girl as a slave and pimped her out to pay off an alleged debt.

“R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office (FBI), announced . . . that on January 19, 2007, defendant Kareem Jackson, 30, and Eriverto Cotto, 28, both of Homestead, were sentenced by United States District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages. Both defendants pled guilty to one count of holding a 17-year-old female to a condition of peonage, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1581. Jackson was sentenced to eighty-four months in prison, and Cotto was sentenced to 151 months in prison.

“According to the evidence presented in Court, on approximately June 5, 2006, Kareem Jackson and Eriverto Cotto began holding a 17-year-old female against her will at Jackson’s Homestead residence. Acting as the girl’s pimp, Jackson arranged for her to perform acts of prostitution to repay an alleged debt to Jackson. Cotto was Jackson’s driver and bodyguard.” [U.S. Department of Justice, ”Two Homestead Men Sentenced for Holding a Minor to a Condition of Peonage,” news release, January 22, 2007.]

Acosta, in 2007, “said he’s willing to keep an open mind on future prosecutions, including instances where an immigrant with lawful papers allows a sibling to borrow the documents to travel back home and then reenter the United States. Nonetheless, ‘Congress has passed this law, and we have an obligation to implement and enforce it,’ Acosta” said.

“A federal law created to crack down on identity theft . . . led South Florida advocates and criminal defense lawyers to meet with U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta. The 2004 criminal measure carries a two-year mandatory minimum sentence for misusing someone’s identity for false documents, while immigration charges for the same offense carry several months in prison. After the meeting, Acosta said he’s willing to keep an open mind on future prosecutions, including instances where an immigrant with lawful papers allows a sibling to borrow the documents to travel back home and then reenter the United States. Nonetheless, ‘Congress has passed this law, and we have an obligation to implement and enforce it,’ Acosta told The Miami Herald.” [Casey Woods, “Migrant Advocates Seek Alternative Resolutions,” Miami Herald, May 13, 2007.]

Acosta plea bargained a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who raped a woman who was under his “custodial, supervisory, and disciplinary authority.” The rapist could have received a life sentence, but as a result of the plea bargain was only sentenced to seven years in prison.

“Wilfredo Vazquez . . . sexually assaulted a 39-year-old Jamaican mother of two . . . at his home in Tamarac,” FL. “He was fired from his position as a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent shortly after the initial complaint was lodged against him, ICE officials said.” [“Former ICE Agent Pleads Guilty to Rape,” Associated Press, April 3, 2008.]

On December 3, 2007, Acosta, in his capacity as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, filed an indictment that accused Wilfredo Vazquez of “engag[ing] in a sexual act” with a victim who was “under the custodial, supervisory, and disciplinary authority” of Vazquez. The indictment also included charges of “caus[ing] another person . . . to engage in a sexual act by threatening and placing [them] in fear” and “knowingly us[ing] and carry[ing] a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and did possess said firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.”

The first charge of “sexual abuse of a ward” carried a maximum prison sentence of fifteen years in prison. The other three charges carried a maximum life prison sentence.

The victim believed that “[her] abuser, Wilfredo Vazquez, should be punished to the full extent of the law.” She wrote that “whatever sentence this Court imposes will be far lighter than the nightmarish existence that [she] must endure for the rest of [her] life.” Lastly, she expressed her “deep frustration and sense of outrage towards the Department that apparently knew, or should have known, that when [she] was placed in the sole custody of Wilfredo Vazquez [she] would be a likely victim.” She “respectfully ask[ed] the Court to impose the maximum sentence for the crimes committed against [her],” saying that “Wilfredo Vazquez ha[d] singlehandedly destroyed [her life].”

Wilfredo Vazquez pled guilty to two counts in the indictment, sexual abuse of a ward in official detention and sexual abuse by threat or fear. The U.S. attorney’s office dismissed the count that involved the use of a firearm. Vazquez was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison. [United States of America v. Wilfredo Vazquez, Case No. 1:07-cr-20948-WPD.]

“‘A law enforcement badge is a privilege; we will not tolerate its misuse as a key to assert power or unlawful force over those in one’s custody,’ U.S. Attorney Acosta said in a statement.” [“Former ICE Agent Pleads Guilty to Rape,” Associated Press, April 3, 2008.]

In a letter to the judge who sentenced him, Vazquez wrote that at the time he was an “arrogant, cocky, whoremonging [sic] drunk” and that he had “cheated on every woman [that he had] ever been with.” Villazquez wrote that in light of his past behavior, the fact the incident took place in his home was “normal and comfortable for [him]” and that the rape that took place was “no different in [his] distorted mind.” Despite in his letter admitting that he, “took this detainee, this woman…to [his] living room…and had sex with her,” Vazquez wrote that, “[he was] no predator, [he had] never been a predator and [he] never [would] be” and that he, “never, ever, forced [himself], threatened or harmed any woman ever and [that he] never [would].” In his letter he also admitted to having originally lied to detectives about what took place. [United States of America v. Wilfredo Vazquez, Case No. 1:07-cr-20948-WPD.]

Acosta plea bargained a man who faced a decade in prison for Medicare fraud. As a result of the plea bargain the fraudster received probation.

On March 8, 2007, “South Florida attorney Benjamin R. Metsch pleaded guilty . . . on charges he defrauded Medicare from October 2002 through August 2004.” “Metsch conspired with another individual, unnamed in the indictment, to facilitate the fraudulent sales of sixty-seven South Florida durable medical equipment companies.” Benjamin “Metsch face[d] a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment, according to prosecutors,” but he received three years of probation and ten months of electronic monitoring as a result of his plea agreement. [John Dorschner, “Lawyer Guilty of Medicare Fraud,” Miami Herald, March 8, 2007; and United States of America v. Benjamin R. Metsch, No. F07-20022-CR-Ungaro-Benages (S.D. Fla. 2007).]

Acosta’s office prosecuted Jack Abramoff, “the powerhouse Washington lobbyist who admitted running a wide-ranging corruption scheme that ensnared lawmakers, Capitol Hill aides and government officials.” He could have been sentenced to more than a dozen years in prison, but Acosta’s office asked the judge to only sentence him to “three years and three months.” The judge sentenced him to four years in prison.

In 2009 Alex “Acosta was then the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida, where his office prosecuted the lobbyist Jack Abramoff.” [Yamiche Alcindor, “New Labor Nominee: Fair Leader or Self-Serving One?New York Times, March 12, 2017.]

“Jack Abramoff, the powerhouse Washington lobbyist who admitted running a wide-ranging corruption scheme that ensnared lawmakers, Capitol Hill aides and government officials . . . received a reduced sentence of four years in prison because of his cooperation with federal investigators.”

“More than a dozen people, including an Ohio congressman and a deputy secretary of the interior” were “convicted in the Abramoff lobbying scandal.”

“Under federal guidelines, [U.S. District Judge Ellen] Huvelle could have sentenced Abramoff to as much as twelve and one-half years. She said she had to weigh the former lobbyist’s help against what she described as offenses that seriously affected ‘the public’s confidence in the integrity of the government.’”

“Prosecutors had asked for a lesser sentence because of Abramoff’s cooperation–three years and three months. In court papers, the prosecutors wrote that Abramoff has described in detail how he and other lobbyists supplied meals, gifts, trips, and ‘a stream of things of value to public officials in exchange for a stream of official action.’“ [Del Quentin Wilber and Carrie Johnson, “Abramoff Gets Reduced Sentence of Four Years in Prison,” Washington Post, September 5, 2008.]

During Acosta’s tenure as U.S. attorney prosecutors in his office agreed to plea bargain an elected official who committed fraud and accepted bribes, and recommended “that he serve no more than five years in prison,” even though he could have been imprisoned for decades for these crimes.

“Federal prosecutors were prepared to charge former Palm Beach County Commission chairman Tony Masilotti with multiple crimes if he had refused to accept a plea agreement with the government, according to a copy of the agreement.”

“Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Kastrenakes and Stephen Carlton wrote in the document that they had enough evidence to charge Masilotti, at minimum, with money laundering, mail and wire fraud, and lying to federal agents–crimes that upon conviction could have imprisoned him for decades. To avoid the hefty charges, Masilotti agreed to plead guilty . . . to a single crime, honest services fraud. Prosecutors, in turn,” recommended “that he serve no more than five years in prison,” and that he be subject to financial penalties and forfeit property, including potentially forfeiting “$175,000 in cash, plus sixty acres of property in Martin County. He and his brother also agreed to forfeit three hundred acres . . . in Brevard County–land worth nearly $8 million acquired for $100,000 from Palm Beach Aggregates, a mining company and landowner in Masilotti’s former district.” [Tom Dubocq, “Masilotti Plea Deal Averts Heavier Charges, Sentence,” Palm Beach Post, January 12, 2007.]

Alexander Acosta plea bargained a man who tried to sneak kilos of cocaine into the United States. As a result of the plea bargain he received five years in prison, though the “charges carried a maximum life sentence.”

On December 22, 2006, U.S. Attorney Acosta filed an indictment against John Peters on various charges related to the import and sale of cocaine in excess of five kilograms. Peters was charged with conspiring and attempting to import cocaine with the intent to distribute. The conspiracy charges carried a maximum life sentence, and the attempting to import and distribute charges carried a maximum penalty of forty years in prison each.

On May 30, 2007, Peters pleaded guilty to all the charges contained in his indictment. He received “a concurrent term of sixty-two months as to each” and receiving credit for time served. He also received five years of supervised release. [United States of America v. John Peters, et. al., No. 1:06-20335-CR-DLG (S.D. Fla. 2007).]

Acosta’s office “struggled with the prosecution of seven men dubbed the Liberty City Seven on charges of conspiring to provide ‘material support’ to al Qaida,” and allegedly plotting a terrorist attack against Chicago’s Sears Tower and FBI offices. “In the end, five were convicted after three trials, but two were acquitted.” The mistrials were viewed as “a significant defeat for the Bush administration.”

Alex “Acosta’s office struggled with the prosecution of seven men dubbed the Liberty City Seven on charges of conspiring to provide ‘material support’ to al Qaida. In the end, five were convicted after three trials, but two were acquitted.” [Jay Weaver, Patricia Mazzei, and Nicholas Nehamas, “Trump’s Labor Pick Is FIU Law Dean and a Former Miami U.S. Attorney,” Miami Herald, February 16, 2017.]

It “took three trials and millions of dollars in taxpayer money to convict” these men “who plotted terrorist attacks against Chicago’s Sears Tower and FBI offices.” [Curt Anderson, “Fla. Law School Hires High-Profile US Attorney,” Associated Press, May 27, 2009.]

In the second trial “jurors reached the same conclusion as their predecessors: the Liberty City Seven was a group of social misfits, scammers and derelicts, but hardly terrorists. They took some pictures, met in a warehouse, made ridiculous statements, and tried to con money out of each other. But the terrorism case was never there.” [Dan Moffett, “The Next 9/11? Try Late Fiasco,” Palm Beach Post, April 20, 2008.]

Following the second mistrial, “legal analysts called the outcome a significant defeat for the Bush administration, especially its publicizing of terrorism arrests.” [Damien Cave, “Mistrial Is Declared for 6 Men in Sears Tower Terror Case,” New York Times, April 17, 2008.]

“Mr. Acosta would explain that the arrests of the Liberty City Seven were an example of the Justice Department’s early intervention strategy. The idea was to put terrorists behind bars before their plans were far enough along to do something as big or bigger than 9/11.” [Dan Moffett, “The Next 9/11? Try Late Fiasco,” Palm Beach Post, April 20, 2008.]

Acosta’s office prosecuted “Jose Padilla, the Brooklyn-born convert to Islam who was once accused by the government of plotting to detonate a ‘dirty bomb’ in the United States.” He was only sentenced “to seventeen years and four months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to help Islamic jihadist fighters abroad.” In addition, the judge “gave lenient prison sentences to Mr. Padilla’s two co-defendants in the case, both of whom were, like Mr. Padilla, eligible for life in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.” This was “a blow to the government.”

“Jose Padilla, the Brooklyn-born convert to Islam who was once accused by the government of plotting to detonate a ‘dirty bomb’ in the United States, was sentenced” in 2008 “to seventeen years and four months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to help Islamic jihadist fighters abroad. The sentence was more lenient than the federal sentencing guidelines recommended and was a blow to the government, which had requested the maximum penalty of life imprisonment for Mr. Padilla.”

“In explaining her decision, Judge Marcia G. Cooke of Federal District Court in Miami acknowledged the gravity of the crimes Mr. Padilla had committed. But she questioned the range and impact of the conspiracy, saying that there was no evidence linking the men to specific acts of terrorism anywhere or that their actions had resulted in death or injury to anyone.”

“The sentences [followed] a three-month trial and a seven-day sentencing hearing.”

“The government’s main evidence against Mr. Padilla, a former Chicago gang member with a lengthy criminal record, was an application form that prosecutors said he had filled out to attend an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in 2000.”

“The judge also gave lenient prison sentences to Mr. Padilla’s two co-defendants in the case, both of whom were, like Mr. Padilla, eligible for life in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Mr. [Ahmad Amin] Hassoun, who recruited Mr. Padilla in a Broward County (FL) mosque, received fifteen years and eight months in prison. Mr. [Kifah Wael] Jayyousi, who was said to be a financier and propagandist for the cell, received twelve years and eight months.” [Kirk Semple, “Padilla Sentenced to Seventeen Years in Prison,” New York Times, January 22, 2008.]

Alex “Acosta’s office also prosecuted Jose Padilla for terrorism.” [Anthony Man, “Trump Announces Miami Native Alex Acosta as New Labor Secretary Nominee,” Sun-Sentinel (Broward County, FL), February 16, 2017.]

Acosta supported longer sentences for crack cocaine convictions than for traditional cocaine convictions because, as he put it, there is “substantial proof that crack cocaine is associated with violence to a greater degree than other controlled substances, including powder cocaine.” He opposed reducing sentences for crack cocaine convictions, even though “analysts from both of the main political parties” concluded “penalties for crack cocaine were too harsh,” and “the tough guidelines often applied to low-level offenders and mostly affected minorities.”

United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Acosta “testified to the Sentencing Commission that ‘[t]here is substantial proof that crack cocaine is associated with violence to a greater degree than other controlled substances, including powder cocaine,” and “the strong federal sentencing guidelines are one of the best tools for law enforcement’s efforts to stop violent crime.” He said “reducing those sentences would create a risk of increased drug violence.” [Chris Byrnes, “Proposals to Eliminate Sentencing Disparities between Crack and Powder Cocaine Offenses,” Federalist Society, August 5, 2009.]

“New sentencing guidelines came after the U.S. Sentencing Commission, made up of judges and criminal justice analysts from both of the main political parties, issued reports concluding penalties for crack cocaine were too harsh. It said the tough guidelines often applied to low-level offenders and mostly affected minorities. South Florida’s chief federal prosecutor testified in 2006 against the changes, contending tough penalties for crack cocaine help law enforcement fight drug- and gang-related crime. U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta said strong sentencing guidelines were useful for combating gang activity and violent crime.” [Vanessa Blum, “Cocaine Prison Terms Reduced,” Sun-Sentinel (Broward County, FL), September 21, 2008.]

Acosta expressed concern about the destructive nature of assault weapons, saying they “get innocent bystanders,” and “a shooting that might have been an injury previously is now a death.”

Acosta, in 2007, said about assault weapons, “‘these bullets are very powerful: they go through walls, they go through cars, and if you just spray the general vicinity you’re going to get innocent bystanders.’“ He continued, “‘a shooting that might have been an injury previously is now a death.’“ [Matt Sedensky, “Assault-Weapon Attacks on Rise in Miami,” Associated Press, September 14, 2007.]

Alex “Acosta has defended the civil rights of Muslim Americans.” He was a “leader in the [Bush] administration’s response to the 9/11 backlash incidents.”

“There are at least two notable cases in which Acosta has defended the civil rights of Muslim Americans.”

One was from 2004 when “Acosta, who was then with the Civil Rights Division, intervened to help defend an 11-year-old student who had sued her Oklahoma school district for requiring her to remove her hijab because it violated the school’s dress code. . . . The school district settled with the Justice Department and changed its dress code.

In 2011, as dean of the law school at Florida International University, Acosta testified before Congress in support of protecting Muslim Americans’ civil rights.” He said that even though “‘emotions remained charged’ ten years after 9/11, it was a good time for Americans to remember ‘that no community has a monopoly on any particular type of crime.’“ [Jonnelle Marte, “Five Things You Should Know about Alexander Acosta, Trump’s New Pick for Labor Secretary,” Washington Post, February 18, 2017.]

Before Acosta spoke Tom Perez said, “one of my predecessors, who is here today, Alex Acosta, was the leader in the administration’s response to the 9/11 backlash incidents. Among other things, Dean Acosta established a new position of special counsel for religious discrimination, and he selected Eric Treene, who remains with me, and is one of my most trusted members of my staff on these issues, along with Mazen Basrawi.” [Thomas Perez, “Protecting the Civil Rights of Muslim Americans,” Hearing of the Constitution, Civil Rights, Human Rights, and the Law Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, March 29, 2011.]

Then Acosta said, I “want to take a minute to thank Assistant Attorney General Perez for his words and his division’s current efforts. General Perez graciously made an important point that the protection of religious liberties is a bipartisan issue. Muslim Americans should take comfort in knowing that the effort to protect your religious liberties has been ongoing since 9/11, has transcended the partisan divide and I hope continues to transcend the partisan divide.” [R. Alexander Acosta, “Protecting the Civil Rights of Muslim Americans,” Hearing of the Constitution, Civil Rights, Human Rights, and the Law Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, March 29, 2011.]

Acosta sits on the Advisory Board for the Florida Capital Resource Center (FCRC), which assists “indigent defendants facing the death penalty by providing consultation, research, training, advocacy, and other necessary resources to capital defenders statewide.” FCRC, in 2016, signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief “advising the Florida Supreme Court to reduce the death sentences of all inmates awaiting execution to life in prison.”

Acosta sits on the Florida Capital Resource Center Advisory Board. [“Dean R. Alexander Acosta,” Florida Capital Resource Center website, accessed March 15, 2017.]

The Florida Capital Resource Center “attempts to ensure that long-standing inequities are mitigated or abolished” by “recognizing the ‘uneven playing field’ inherent in the defense of impoverished individuals on trial for their lives (and the gross limitations of post-conviction remedies, even in the most constitutionally-violative [sic] cases).” [“History & Overview,” Florida Capital Resource Center website, accessed March 15, 2017.]

“Today, the mission of Florida Capital Resource Center is to assist indigent defendants facing the death penalty by providing consultation, research, training, advocacy, and other necessary resources to capital defenders state-wide.” “History & Overview,” Florida Capital Resource Center website, accessed March 15, 2017.]

Florida Capital Resource Center signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief “advising the Florida Supreme Court to reduce the death sentences of all inmates awaiting execution to life in prison.” [Dara Kamthe, “High-Profile Lawyers Urge FL Court to Commute All Death Sentences,” Daytona Beach (FL) News-Journal, May 3, 2016.]

In 2006, then U.S. attorney Acosta set up a task force to prosecute Cuban embargo violators “‘with the aim of hastening the transition to democracy in Cuba.’” Groups targeted by the task force included individuals violating the travel ban and those who sent money to relatives living in Cuba.

Acosta, in 2006, announced “the creation of a task force of federal agencies to target [Cuban] embargo offenders more aggressively–whether they violate travel bans, business restrictions, or limits on currency remittances to relatives on the island.” He said, “‘the purpose of these sanctions is to isolate the Castro regime economically and to deprive the Castro regime of the U.S. dollars it so desperately seeks,’“ and it was formed “‘with the aim of hastening the transition to democracy in Cuba.’“ [Frances Robles, “Cuban Exiles, Dissidents Sign Plan,” Miami Herald, October 12, 2006.]

U.S. Attorney Acosta, in a case involving a man who was poisoned with anthrax that came from the U.S. military, argued that the federal government is not responsible for terror related deaths when stolen government property is used in a terrorist attack.

On October 31, 2005, Acosta filed a brief on behalf of the United States as an appellant in Maureen Stevens v. United States of America. [Maureen Stevens v. United States of America, No. 05-15088 (11th Cir. 2007).]

Stevens filed a “lawsuit against the federal government–seeking to hold it responsible for not safeguarding the anthrax spores used in the biological attacks in the weeks following 9/11” in which her husband Richard Stevens was killed. “The government conceded the anthrax came from one of its Army labs at Fort Detrick, MD, but admitted no liability in the death of Robert Stevens.” [Peter Franceschina, “End of Eight-Year Legal Fight Brings Some Relief to South Florida Anthrax Widow,” Sun-Sentinel (Broward County, FL), November 30, 2011.]

Acosta argued that “Florida law [was] clear: A defendant [had] no duty to protect another person from the criminal acts of a third party, unless the defendant had a ‘special relationship’ with the victim or with the perpetrator (such as a common carrier and its passengers, or a landowner and its invitees).” [Maureen Stevens v. United States of America, Case No. 05-15088 (11th Cir. 2007).]

“An appeals court and the Florida Supreme Court both found in Stevens’ favor,” and Stevens received $2.5 million from the federal government. [Peter Franceschina, “End of Eight-Year Legal Fight Brings Some Relief to South Florida Anthrax Widow,” Sun-Sentinel (Broward County, FL), November 30, 2011.]

U.S. Attorney Acosta, in 2006, represented the U.S. Government against an appeal by a pro-Tibetan activist from China seeking asylum. The pro-Tibetan activist feared retribution if she was sent back to China. An appellate court ruled in favor of the activist.

In 2006, U.S. Attorney Acosta acted as counsel for an immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals in an appeal by Tsering Youdon. Youdon, originally from Tibet, was an activist living in China who believed she faced persecution by the Chinese government as a result of her pro-Tibet political activities. The U.S. Government attempted to send Youdon back to China after determining that she failed to show “that the Chinese government would target” her “upon her return to China due to her pro-Tibet activities.” The decision to deny Youdon’s appeal was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which ruled that she would not be deported. [Youdon v. Board of Immigration Appeals, Case No. 204 Fed. Appx. 89 (2d Cir. 2006).]

Acosta’s office regularly represented the U.S. Government in its attempts to send asylum seekers back to China where they would face potential persecution under China’s family planning policies, including “forced sterilization.” In at least five cases appellate judges determined that the U.S. Government at least partially erred in the denial of asylum.

Acosta represented the U.S. Government against Petitioner Ping Long Li, who “was detained and beaten for confronting family planning officials and engaging in other resistance to Chinese family planning policy.” An immigration judge “found that the alien failed to establish that the sterilization of his wife was done on a forced basis” based off “an adverse credibility determination.” The appellate court determined that the petitioner’s entire claim for asylum should not have been denied due to a lack of credibility regarding his wife’s sterilization. [Ping Long Li v. Alberto R. Gonzales, No. 233 Fed. Appx. 94 (2d Cir. 2007).]

Acosta represented the U.S. Government against Petitioner Guanghua Zhou, who was denied asylum by an immigration judge as a result of an “adverse credibility determination.” The appellate court found that the judge did not provide enough evidence in her determination that the petitioner lacked credibility, in part because of a translation error that occurred during his testimony. Both the petitioner and his wife claimed to have been forcibly sterilized by the Chinese government. [Guanghua Zhou v. Alberto Gonzales, 193 Fed. Appx. 98, 99 (2d Cir. 2006).]

Acosta represented the U.S. Government in the case of Yiang Kuan Wu, when an immigration judge “did not explain how [the] petitioner’s claim was inconsistent with the country conditions report and did not discuss other background information in the record supporting [the] petitioner’s claim of forced sterilization.” The judge did not take into account “countervailing evidence” in this case, an appellate court determined. [Yiang Kuan Wu, a.k.a. Yong Kwan Jeong, a.k.a. Ying Quan Wu, v. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, No. 189 Fed. Appx. 18.]

Acosta represented the U.S. Government against Petitioner Gui Ci Pan, who “claimed that he and his girlfriend went into hiding to avoid a forced abortion, that he would be imprisoned, fined, and beaten if he returned to China, and that either he or his girlfriend would be sterilized.” The immigration judge did not conclude that his testimony was inaccurate, but simply cited the fact that the couple was not married when denying asylum. The appellate court found the initial court erred by refusing to evaluate evidence beyond the simple marriage status of the couple in question. [Gui Ci Pan, v. United States Attorney General, No. 449 F.3d 408 (2d Cir. 2006).]

“Of the eight factors relied upon” by the immigration judge’s adverse credibility determination in the case of Meizi Liu, “all but one were faulty,” an appellate court determined. Liu mentioned the desire to live a better life in the United States, which the immigration judge cited against her, but at “no point throughout her testimony did she waver in her assertions that she had been forcibly sterilized.” Acosta represented the U.S. Government in this case. [Meizi Liu, v. Board of Immigration Appeals, No. 167 Fed. Appx. 871, 873 (2d Cir. 2006).]

Views on Immigration and Other Issues of Importance to the Hispanic Community

Acosta serves on the American Bar Association’s Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Education Pipeline, which “works to improve diversity in the educational pipeline to the legal profession” by “increasing the number of people of color who are on track to become lawyers.” He is also the chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities, which “addresses key legal issues facing Hispanics throughout the U.S. such as voting rights, immigration, civil rights, and access to the courts.” The Commission urged “federal, state, local and territorial law-enforcement authorities to provide a culturally, substantively and accurate translation of the Miranda warning in Spanish.”

Acosta serves on the American Bar Association’s Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Education Pipeline, which “works to improve diversity in the educational pipeline to the legal profession. Our charge is to increase the number of people of color who are on track to becoming lawyers.” [“Law Dean Named to the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission,” FIU News, July 29, 2013; and “Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline,” American Bar Association website, accessed March 2, 2017.]

Alex “Acosta also is the chair of the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities,” which “addresses key legal issues facing Hispanics throughout the U.S., such as voting rights, immigration, civil rights, and access to the courts.” [Debra Cassens Weiss, “Trump Nominates Law Dean of Florida International University for Labor Secretary,” American Bar Association Journal, February 16, 2017; and “Donate Now to the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities,” American Bar Association website, accessed March 2, 2017.]

The ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities called upon the ABA “to urge federal, state, territorial, and local law enforcement authorities to provide a uniform translation of the Miranda warning in Spanish, one that is culturally and substantively accurately translated.” [“Resolution,” American Bar Association website, August 8, 2016.]

Acosta believes that individuals in the United States “who are native Spanish speakers” should “receive Miranda warnings in Spanish.” He “played a pivotal role in the Limited-English-Proficient (LEP) Guidance enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires recipients of federal financial assistance to provide language assistance to LEP persons,” and he is in favor of providing courtroom translations in Spanish and all other languages.

Acosta believes that individuals in the United States “who are native Spanish speakers” should “receive Miranda warnings in Spanish” instead of English. He accused police of using “words that simply are not Spanish” in Miranda readings, like “the right to silento.” [“Lawyers Push for Spanish-Language Miranda Warnings” (interview with Alex Acosta by Allison Aubrey), All Things Considered, NPR, August 13, 2016.]

He spoke in favor of a resolution urging “federal, state, local and territorial law-enforcement authorities” to adopt a uniform version of Miranda Rights in Spanish during “the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.” He advocated for a “culturally, substantively accurate translation of the Miranda warning in Spanish.” [“Annual Meeting 2016: House of Delegates Urges Accurate Spanish Translation of Miranda Warning” (including remarks by Alex Acosta), Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association, San Francisco, CA, August 8, 2016.]

Acosta “played a pivotal role in the Limited-English-Proficient (LEP) Guidance enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires recipients of federal financial assistance to provide language assistance to LEP persons,” National Review reported. [Jim Boulet Jr., “A Tale of Two Nominees,” National Review, July 8, 2003.]

In an interview on Univision conducted in Spanish, Acosta said he is in favor of providing courtroom translations in any language. He said it is “a right” that Americans have. [“¿Debe o no pagar por servicios de traducción en la corte?“ Univision, September 30, 2015.]

Acosta is a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform. He said that the United States needs “individuals that are willing to use political capital . . . to take this on and to find real solutions that address both the issue of illegal immigration and a pathway to legal immigration.” He continued, “we need to figure out a way to address illegal immigration and give everyone a pathway to get here legally in a transparent way, and in a fair way,” and “part of that means figuring out what we do with all the individuals who are already in our nation. We need them here. They provide construction jobs. They provide agricultural jobs. We need to figure out a way to address that.”

Acosta, during a 2012 panel discussion about immigration reform, said that the United States needs “individuals that are willing to use political capital, as President Bush was willing to do, to take this on and to find real solutions that address both the issue of illegal immigration and a pathway to legal immigration.”

He recounted several stories from his time as a federal prosecutor that shaped his vision of immigration in the United States. “I was the federal prosecutor in Miami for five years and I had some experiences that are horrific.” For example, “I had a case where a woman was raped repeatedly on her way over from Haiti because the smugglers . . . that brought her over abused her and she allowed it because, for her, that was the price of passage to our nation.”

He continued, “the cost of illegal immigration is not simply exclusion, but it’s abuse of those individuals who are looking to our nation as beacons of freedom. We need to figure out a way to address illegal immigration and give everyone a pathway to get here legally in a transparent way, and in a fair way,” and “part of that means figuring out what we do with all the individuals who are already in our nation. We need them here. They provide construction jobs. They provide agricultural jobs. We need to figure out a way to address that. We need to figure out a way to then have a pathway to further, future, legal immigration.” [Alex Acosta, “Immigration Policy and the Hispanic Workforce,” C-SPAN, January 27, 2012.]

Acosta, in 2007, “said he’s willing to keep an open mind on future prosecutions, including instances where an immigrant with lawful papers allows a sibling to borrow the documents to travel back home and then reenter the United States. Nonetheless, ‘Congress has passed this law, and we have an obligation to implement and enforce it,’ Acosta” said.

“A federal law created to crack down on identity theft . . . led South Florida advocates and criminal defense lawyers to meet with U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta. The 2004 criminal measure carries a two-year mandatory minimum sentence for misusing someone’s identity for false documents, while immigration charges for the same offense carry several months in prison. After the meeting, Acosta said he’s willing to keep an open mind on future prosecutions, including instances where an immigrant with lawful papers allows a sibling to borrow the documents to travel back home and then reenter the United States. Nonetheless, ‘Congress has passed this law, and we have an obligation to implement and enforce it,’ Acosta told The Miami Herald.” [Casey Woods, “Migrant Advocates Seek Alternative Resolutions,” Miami Herald, May 13, 2007.]

Acosta supported giving undocumented immigrants who are victims of human trafficking “a chance to stay in the United States if they cooperate with law enforcement.”

Federal officials, in 2004, launched “an effort in three cities to try to break down . . . fear by publicizing a program that promises victims of human trafficking that they will receive social services and a chance to stay in the United States if they cooperate with law enforcement.”

“‘We are keenly aware that for this to work, there needs to be confidence that when someone calls, they will not be deported,’ said Alex Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. ’Victims of human trafficking are victims.’” These people “‘have a right to be treated like refugees.’” [David Caruso, “Authorities Launch Outreach Effort to Fight Illegal Immigrant Forced Labor,” Associated Press, April 20, 2004.]

When Acosta was on the NLRB board he made it clear that he believes National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protections apply to undocumented workers. “He warned that the NLRB’s ‘continued commitment to prosecuting unfair labor practices directed against undocumented workers requires an understanding of the workplace and life realities faced by these individuals.’”

“In Double D Construction Group, Inc., 339 NLRB 303 (2003), the discharge of an undocumented worker was determined by the NLRB to be lawful. The administrative law judge had discredited the worker’s testimony on the ground that he knowingly had used a false Social Security number to obtain employment. Acosta concurred in upholding the judge’s decision, but cautioned that the judge’s reasoning was overly broad because it would deny undocumented workers their NLRA . . . protections.” [Philip Rosen, Howard Bloom, and Linda Carlozzi, “Labor Department Nominee’s Opinions as National Labor Relations Board Member,” National Law Review, February 21, 2017.]

“Concurring with his majority colleagues” in this case, Alex “Acosta expressed a strong view on the rights of undocumented immigrant workers. Mr. Acosta explained that the Administrative Law Judge discredited an employee’s testimony because he had used a false Social Security number to apply for work, and concluded from that act that the employee might offer false testimony. Mr. Acosta firmly rejected this view, explaining that undocumented workers are statutory employees entitled to the protections of the NLRA. He stated that a blanket policy of discrediting any ‘once-undocumented worker, who, to obtain work provides a false Social Security number,’ was inconsistent with the Act and that ‘such an automatic sanction makes it exceedingly difficulty for the General Counsel to establish an unlawful discharge or other unfair labor practice directed against an undocumented worker.’ While Mr. Acosta acknowledged that providing a false Social Security number is relevant to a credibility determination, he warned that the NLRB’s ‘continued commitment to prosecuting unfair labor practices directed against undocumented workers requires an understanding of the workplace and life realities faced by these individuals.’“ [Jaclyn Hamlin, “Clues and Cases from Alexander Acosta’s NLRB Tenure,” JD Supra Business Advisor, February 24, 2017.]

In 2006, then U.S. attorney Acosta set up a task force to prosecute Cuban embargo violators “‘with the aim of hastening the transition to democracy in Cuba.’” Groups targeted by the task force included individuals violating the travel ban and those who sent money to relatives living in Cuba.

Acosta, in 2006, announced “the creation of a task force of federal agencies to target [Cuban] embargo offenders more aggressively–whether they violate travel bans, business restrictions, or limits on currency remittances to relatives on the island.” He said, “‘the purpose of these sanctions is to isolate the Castro regime economically and to deprive the Castro regime of the U.S. dollars it so desperately seeks.’” [Frances Robles, “Cuban Exiles, Dissidents Sign Plan,” Miami Herald, October 12, 2006.]

FIU, The University of Florida, Gulliver Schools, and U.S. Bank

When Acosta, in 2014, interviewed to be the dean of the University of Florida Levin College of Law he was harshly criticized for a lack of academic writings, “hiring practices and case assignments at the Civil Rights Division . . . based on political affiliations,” and writing an unsolicited letter to put political pressure on “a federal judge in Ohio” in 2004, in which he justified “vote caging in the presidential election.” In the end “most of the [search] committee members could not support him because of overwhelmingly negative reaction by the law faculty. In a survey, 74 percent of the thirty-four faculty members participating in the survey said he was unacceptable as a candidate.”

Acosta, in 2014, interviewed to be the dean of the University of Florida Levin College of Law. At the time he had “little if any academic scholarship published.” This was “a big concern among faculty weighing in on who will be the next dean” there. [Jeff Schweers, “FIU Law Dean Alexander Acosta Interviewing for UF Law Dean Post,” Gainesville (FL) Sun, February 19, 2014]

The school’s search committee was hesitant after learning about “a 2008 investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general, which looked into whether hiring practices and case assignments at the Civil Rights Division he led were based on political affiliations. A report on the case found that Mr. Acosta had ignored warning signs about such problems.” The department sought “to purge liberal attorneys from the division and replace them with conservatives.”

Acosta wrote a letter “to a federal judge in Ohio” in 2004 in which he justified “‘vote caging’ in the presidential election.” A member of the school’s search committee said that “she and her colleagues were uncomfortable with how Mr. Acosta explained the vote-caging case.” [Alan Rappeport, “R. Alexander Acosta, Law School Dean, Is Trump’s New Pick for Labor,” New York Times, February 16, 2017; and Adam Serwer, “The Scandal That May Haunt the New Nominee for Labor Secretary,” Atlantic, February 16, 2017.]

“Michelle Jacobs, a professor at the UF law school, said she and her colleagues were particularly worried about Acosta’s conduct during his time at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Acosta had taken the unusual step of writing a letter to an Ohio judge four days before the 2004 presidential election. The judge was hearing a voting rights case on whether Republicans could challenge the credentials of 23,000 mostly African American voters, according to published reports at the time. In his letter, Acosta, then an assistant attorney general, told the judge that barring citizens from challenging voter credentials would ‘undermine’ the enforcement of state and federal election laws. Acosta wrote that ‘nothing in the Voting Rights Act facially condemns challenge statutes.’”

“‘His unsolicited filing had the appearance of putting political pressure on the judge in a suit between private parties,’ Jacobs told The Herald. ‘We thought that was problematic.’

“When Acosta came to campus to interview with faculty and students, Jacobs said she and other colleagues asked him about the Ohio case. ‘His response was: ‘When you work for the Justice Department, you’re not representing your personal views, you’re representing the Justice Department and if you’re ordered to file a brief, you file a brief,’ Jacobs said.’ That answer, she added, suggested Acosta ’didn’t quite respect the ethical obligations of a lawyer in a way that we would have sought in a dean.’“ [Jay Weaver, Patricia Mazzei, and Nicholas Nehamas, “Trump’s Labor Pick is FIU Law Dean and a Former Miami U.S. Attorney,” Miami Herald, February 16, 2017.]

“She also said Mr. Acosta had described paying lip service to lawmakers when called to testify before Congress. ‘I feel that he lacked some transparency, and he didn’t show a full appreciation for ethical obligations,’” she said. “‘We felt it deeply enough that we eliminated him from the list of candidates.’“ [Alan Rappeport, “R. Alexander Acosta, Law School Dean, Is Trump’s New Pick for Labor,” New York Times, February 16, 2017.]

In addition, Jacobs “noted that some students felt they didn’t have his full attention. ‘While he was being interviewed by the students, he both took and made text messages,’ Jacobs recalled. ‘That shows a degree of unawareness. The students did remark on that.’“ [Jay Weaver, Patricia Mazzei, and Nicholas Nehamas, “Trump’s Labor Pick is FIU Law Dean and a Former Miami U.S. Attorney,” Miami Herald, February 16, 2017.]

“Although Acosta was recognized for his management and fundraising skills, and for helping to elevate the status of FIU’s relatively new law college, most of the committee members could not support him because of overwhelmingly negative reaction by the law faculty. In a survey, 74 percent of the thirty-four faculty members participating in the survey said he was unacceptable as a candidate. The thirty-four participants represent less than half of the seventy-seven full-time faculty.” [Jeff Schweers, “Law Dean Candidates Down to Three,” Gainesville (FL) Sun, February 26, 2014.]

The FIU College of Law, under the leadership of Acosta, proudly helped those who wanted to be a part of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) “determine if they qualify for the program,” and assisted “them in filling out the DACA applications.” President Barack Obama’s DACA “gave work permits to immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and living in the country illegally.” In fact, the FIU College of Law said on Twitter that its “law school students help young undocumented immigrants” and that it hosts workshops “to help undocumented young adults apply for DACA.”

DACA “gave work permits to immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and living in the country illegally.” [Manuel Valdes and Peter Orsi, “Trump Overshadows Young Migrants’ Emotional Trip to Mexico,” Associated Press, January 24, 2017.]

The FIU College of Law, on August 25, 2012, held a “day long clinic” where “local attorneys” and “volunteers, along with students and recent law school graduates will volunteer to help DACA-seeking young adults determine if they qualify for the program and assist them in filling out the DACA applications.” [Sissi Garland, “FIU College of Law Hosts Free Workshop to Help Undocumented Young Adults Apply for Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Residency,” FIU News, August 24, 2012.]

In fact, the FIU College of Law said on Twitter that its “law school students help young undocumented immigrants” and that it hosts workshops “to help undocumented young adults apply for DACA.” [FIU College of Law Twitter post, March 19, 2013, 9:14 a.m., accessed March 15, 2017; FIU College of Law Twitter post, August 24, 2013, 8:02 p.m., accessed March 15, 2017; FIU College of Law Twitter post, September 5, 2014, 3:31 p.m., accessed March 15, 2017; and FIU College of Law Twitter post, October 9. 2012, 10:46 a.m., accessed March 15, 2017.]

Acosta is the President and Chairman of the Gulliver Schools Board of Trustees. Gulliver Schools was sued in 2013 and 2016 for not paying overtime. The cases were settled.

Acosta is the president and chairman of the Gulliver Schools Board of Trustees. He was on the board in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, and is listed as the president in Florida Secretary of State records in 2015 and 2016. [“Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: We Are Gulliver; Annual Report of Giving, 2013-2014,” Gulliver Schools website, accessed March 15, 2017; , Gulliver Schools, Inc. completed Form 990, 2013, accessed March 15, 2017; and “Gulliver Schools, Inc.,” Division of Corporations, Florida Department of State SunBiz.org website, accessed March 15, 2017.]

Marta Suarez, in 2013, sued Gulliver Schools under the Fair Labor Standards Act for unpaid overtime wages. The case was settled for $10,000 plus legal fees. [Suarez v. Gulliver Schools, Inc. et al., No. 1:13-cv-20706 (S.D. Fla. 2013).]

David Ward, in 2016, sued Gulliver Schools for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying him overtime wages between July 2013 to December 2014. The lawsuit stated that Ward was owed $81,135 in overtime pay, damages, and court and attorney fees. The case was settled in 2016. Acosta was listed as a “corporate officer of, and exercised operational control over the activities of” Gulliver Schools in this lawsuit. [Ward v. Gulliver Schools, Inc. et al., No. 1:16-cv-23749 (S.D. Fla. 1016).]

A former headmaster, in 2011, sued Gulliver Schools for “age discrimination and retaliation under the Florida Civil Rights Act” after his contract was not renewed. The case was settled.

Patrick Snay “filed a two count complaint asserting causes of action for age discrimination and retaliation under the Florida Civil Rights Act” against Gulliver Schools after his 2010-11 contract as the headmaster there was not renewed. “On November 3, 2011, the parties executed a general release and a settlement agreement” that included “$10,000 in back pay, $80,000 for non-wage damages, and $60,000 in attorney’s fees.” The confidentiality agreement “provided that the existence and terms of the agreement between Snay and the school were to be kept strictly confidential and that should Snay or his wife breach the confidentiality provision, a portion of the settlement proceeds (the $80,000) would be disgorged.” Snay “breached the agreement based on the Facebook posting of Snay’s college-age daughter, wherein she stated: Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” This resulted in the loss of the non-wage damages portion of the settlement. [Gulliver Schools, Inc., et al. v. Patrick Snay, Case No. 3D13-1952; and Lawrence J. Del Rossi, “Daughter’s Facebook Post Leads to Costly Breach by Father of a Confidentiality Clause in His Settlement Agreement With Former Employer,” LaborSphere (blog), April 14, 2014.]

Acosta “has been chairman of U.S. Century Bank in Miami since late 2013. U.S. Century Bank received $50.2 million” in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds “in exchange for shares that taxpayers sold in March 2015 for . . . a $38.5 million loss, according to Treasury Department records.” U.S. Century Bank, in 2016, was sued by another bank that said the U.S. Century Bank CEO “used confidential information” from his previous job to recruit staff and potential clients for U.S. Century Bank, in violation of “confidentiality agreements . . . and [the] code of ethics.” The case was settled.

Acosta “has been chairman of U.S. Century Bank in Miami since late 2013.” U.S. Century Bank “received $50.2 million” in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds “in August 2009 in exchange for shares that taxpayers sold in March 2015 for $11.7 million, a $38.5 million loss, according to Treasury Department records.” [Eric Morath, “Trump Picks Alexander Acosta to Serve as Labor Secretary,” Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2017.]

In April 2016 TotalBank “filed a lawsuit against U.S. Century Bank and U.S. Century Bank CEO Luis de la Aguilera” alleging that de la Aguilera “used confidential information” from his time at TotalBank to recruit staff and potential clients for U.S. Century Bank, in violation of “confidentiality agreements . . . and [the] code of ethics.”

De la Aguilera “resigned from the position [at TotalBank] on Dec. 14, 2015, just weeks after more than 15 percent of TotalBank’s workforce was laid off. One day later . . . U.S. Century Bank appointed de la Aguilera as its CEO.” [Debora Lima, “TotalBank Files Lawsuit Against U.S. Century Bank and CEO,” Miami Herald, April 14, 2016.]

Later in 2016, “TotalBank settled its lawsuit against rival U.S. Century Bank and CEO Luis de la Aguilera.” A judge “approved the confidential settlement and dismissed the case. It’s unclear if any money changed hands.” [Brian Bandell, “TotalBank Settles Litigation Against U.S. Century Bank, CEO,” South Florida Business Journal, July 5, 2016.]

Conservative Washington, DC Insider

Acosta was the founder and director of the Project on the Judiciary, which was a socially conservative watchdog organization that advocated against judicial activism. The project was created within the ultra-conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. Acosta specifically targeted President Bill Clinton’s judicial nominations while directing the project. The “need” for the Project on the Judiciary “apparently ended with the 2000 elections, when the project was terminated.”

Acosta “was a senior fellow from 1997 to 2000 at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he directed the Project on the Judiciary to campaign against ‘activist judges.’“ [Tom Brune, “Advocates Split Over Civil Rights Nominee; White House Backs Conservative Hispanic,” Newsday, July 7, 2003; and “Remarks of R. Alexander Acosta at the Project on the Judiciary’s May 19, 1997 Press Conference,” Ethics and Public Policy Center, February 3, 1999, accessed via Wayback Machine Internet Archive website. March 16, 2017.]

The Project on the Judiciary was highly “critical of Clinton administration judicial nominees.” [Tom Brune, “Advocates Split Over Civil Rights Nominee; White House Backs Conservative Hispanic,” Newsday, July 7, 2003; and “Judicial Activism,” C-SPAN, May 19, 1997 (36:55).]

Acosta claimed that President Bill Clinton was “‘more concerned with demographics than qualifications’” when picking nominees for judicial positions. [“Al Gore’s Judges? No Thanks,” Investor’s Business Daily, March 7, 2000.]

The Project on the Judiciary was involved in an attempt to end “the ABA’s official role of advising the Senate on judicial nominations” due to the perceived liberal influence of the ABA on the process. [Terry Carter, “A Conservative Juggernaut: Judicial Attacks Push Debate to Right, put Hatch in Middle,” ABA Journal, June 1997.]

Acosta founded the Project on the Judiciary to oppose the “increasing activism of the federal judiciary,” but the “need . . . apparently ended with the 2000 elections, when the project was terminated.” [Tula Connell, “Workers Wronged: The NLRB Is Stacked against labor,” In These Times, May 27, 2002.]

The Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) is extremely conservative. A goal of this organization was “to ‘reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy issues.’” [Tula Connell, “Workers Wronged; The NLRB Is Stacked against Labor,” In These Times, May 27, 2002.]

EPPC describes itself as “Washington, D.C.’s premier institute dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy.” The EPPC website says “EPPC and its scholars have consistently sought to defend and promote our nation’s founding principles–respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, individual freedom and responsibility, justice, the rule of law, and limited government. Much of the Center’s funding has “come from the so-called ‘four sisters’ of the conservative foundation world: the Olin, Bradley, Smith Richardson, and Sarah Scaife Foundations. The center has also been supported by the Castle Rock and Earhart foundations.” [“About EPPC,” Ethics and Public Policy Center website, accessed March 15, 2017; and “Ethics and Public Policy Center,” Right Web website, accessed March 15, 2017.]

EPPC hosted the Marriage Law Project, which is an anti-gay advocacy group that denounces same-sex marriage and parenting. [Elliott Abrams and David G. Dalin, eds., Secularism, Spirituality, and the Future of American Jewry, (Washington, D.C.: Ethics and Public Policy Center, 1999); Gary Stern, “In Gay-Union Debate, Church Influence Hard to Measure,” Journal News (White Plains, NY), August 10, 2003; and Cheryl Wetzstein, “Homosexuals’ Children Not of One Mind on Adoptions; PBS Show to Examine Parenting by Same-Sex Couples,” Washington Times, June 7, 2000.]

When Acosta was at EPPC, George Weigel, a fellow at the time, made the argument that stem cell research is ideologically comparable to actions taken by Nazis during the Holocaust. [George Weigel, “Stem Cells and the Logic of the Nazis,” Los Angeles Times, September 3, 2000.]

When Acosta was the director of the Project on the Judiciary he wrote that if Al Gore is elected president, liberal Supreme Court justices will “roll back the clock and undo” conservative decisions on affirmative action, environmental regulation, background checks, aid to parochial school students, private school vouchers, and abortion. “Unelected, life-tenured judges aren’t supposed to decide political issues, but sometimes when such a case is before them they must. In those circumstances, some judges follow the plain language of the Constitution. Others bend it to accommodate their own policy preferences. The Warren-Brennan Court chose to do the latter; the Rehnquist Court’s five-justice majority has by and large done the former. What the next court does will depend on who’s doing the appointing,” he wrote.

When Acosta was the “director of the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Project on the Judiciary” he wrote, “the 2000 presidential election will determine much more than who controls the White House. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Justice John Paul Stevens, and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor are likely to retire during the next administration. The next president could appoint three new justices and set the court’s direction for a generation.”

“In a series of recent decisions, a bare 5-to-4 court majority has revived the old but important idea that the powers of the federal government are limited. In U.S. v. Lopez (1995), a 5-to-4 court invalidated a law as exceeding Congress’s Commerce Clause power. In Seminole Tribe v. Florida (1996) and Alden v. Maine (1999), both 5-to-4 cases, the court again reminded Congress of the limits of its power when it ruled that Congress cannot strip the states of their immunity from lawsuit except under narrow circumstances. And in Prinz v. U.S. (1997), again 5-to-4, the court held that Congress can’t order state officials to execute federal laws such as the Brady Act’s background check requirement for gun buyers.”

“Racial preferences. This is another area of close calls. In Adarand Constructors v. Pena (1995), the court ruled 5-to-4 that a color-blind Constitution prohibits racial quotas and preferences unless they are narrowly tailored to advance a compelling government interest. Since Adarand, lower courts have acted to roll back unjustified, racially discriminatory preferences and quotas. Federal courts of appeals in Texas and Massachusetts have struck down the use of race-based preferences in admissions at the University of Texas Law School and the Boston Latin School. And in California, another federal court of appeals upheld that state’s Proposition 209.

“Property rights. A bare majority of the court has also revived this issue. In Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, the court considered whether an environmental regulation that deprives a landowner of all economically viable use of his land but doesn’t compensate him for this loss constitutes an unconstitutional taking of property. A 6-to-3 court answered yes, but that was in 1992.”

“Religious liberties. They likewise are making a comeback. In Rosenberger (1995), a 5-to-4 court ruled that the University of Virginia could not deny student activity funds to a student newspaper that presented Christian views when it was giving funds to several programs hostile to religiously inspired values. Two years later, the court heard another important religious liberties case. In Agostini v. Felton, the court ruled 5-to-4 that the government doesn’t violate the Establishment Clause when it provides non-religious remedial instruction to disadvantaged children attending parochial schools so long as it also provides instruction to children in public schools. This decision overruled a 1985 precedent, under which any public aid whatsoever to parochial school students was unconstitutional.

“School choice. The Agostini decision is crucial to the school choice movement. The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the constitutionality of school choice, but will do so in the next few years. The five-justice Agostini majority is likely to uphold school choice. School vouchers provided to all students, which reach parochial schools only as a consequence of private decision making, don’t establish a religion under Agostini.

“Abortion. The 1992 Casey decision, which reaffirmed Roe, is perhaps this decade’s best known decision. It too was decided by a mere one-vote margin, with four justices voting to overrule Roe. Although the validity of Roe may not come before the court again for some years, the partial-birth abortion issue will almost certainly reach the court soon. More than twenty-five states have enacted partial-birth abortion bans. Courts in nineteen of these states, however, have invalidated or blocked the bans. The Supreme Court will soon have to determine the constitutionality of partial-birth abortion, and one vote could make all the difference.

“One vote. That is all that the four-justice minority needs to roll back the clock and undo these decisions.”

“A liberal victory in 2000 would give that president the opportunity to replace the conservative chief justice and Justice O’Connor with liberal activists. That would give the . . . four-justice minority a 6-to-3 majority on the court. A conservative presidential victory, in contrast, would give that president an opportunity to replace Justice Stevens with a conservative jurist and increase the conservative majority to six.”

“Unelected, life-tenured judges aren’t supposed to decide political issues, but sometimes when such a case is before them they must. In those circumstances, some judges follow the plain language of the Constitution. Others bend it to accommodate their own policy preferences. The Warren-Brennan Court chose to do the latter; the Rehnquist Court’s five-justice majority has by and large done the former. What the next court does will depend on who’s doing the appointing.” [R. Alexander Acosta, “In 2000, Supreme Court Is a Stake Too,” Wall Street Journal, August 23, 1999.]

Acosta, in 2000, was a member of the Family Research Council “distinguished awards committee,” which consisted of “leading pro-family legal scholars.” It ranked “the year’s most outrageous judicial decisions” and handed out “Court Jester Awards” to cases that did not align with the Family Research Council’s conservative beliefs. Cases regarding separation of church and state, same-sex marriage, school vouchers, and “transsexuals” were among the award recipients.

The Family Research Council, in 2000, gave out “Court Jester Awards” for “the year’s most outrageous judicial decisions.” The Court Jester Awards are “‘a lighthearted roast to activist judges who violate the public trust by handing down decisions that advance their own political agendas rather than follow constitutional principles,’ said Jan LaRue, Senior Director for Legal Studies at [the] Family Research Council and a member of the Court Jester Award Committee.”

“Over twenty-eight nominated rulings were considered for Court Jester awards in seven different categories. The final winners were chosen by a distinguished Awards Committee consisting of some of the nation’s leading pro-family legal scholars, including . . . Alex Acosta.”

“The Sour Lemon Award,” given to “a decision that squeezes the free exercise of religion out of the First Amendment by misapplying the Establishment Clause,” was given to a case in which a first grader was not allowed to read from his Bible for a class assignment. The committee also criticized a “decision to exclude a private ad containing the Ten Commandments from a high school baseball field fence while allowing various other commercial ads.”

For the award given to “a decision that substitutes a judge’s own political ideology for that of the people or their representatives,” the awards committee chose a case in which a federal judge “struck down Cleveland’s school voucher program.”

Baker v. Vermont was given the award for “a decision so utterly without legal foundation that it shocks the conscience of the public and causes contempt for the judicial system.” In this case, the Supreme Court of Vermont ruled that “the Vermont Constitution requires Vermont to extend to cohabitants of the same-sex the benefits and protections of marriage, and ordered the legislature to permit same-sex couples to marry or to create a separate domestic partner system.”

The committee criticized Schwenk v. Hartford, which was a case that “held that transsexuals are covered under the ‘gender motivated violence’ provision of the Violence Against Women Act.” [“FRC Announces Winners Of 2000 Court Jester Awards; Judges ‘Roasted’ for ‘Ridiculous Rulings,’“ PR Newswire, June 30, 2000.]

Acosta said that he was “aware that the Family Research Council favors the traditional family” but was “not familiar with the Family Research Council’s specific positions on various policy issues.” As for “the 2000 Court Jester Award Ceremony,” he claimed that he “presented an award to the Ninth Circuit for its record of reversals in that year’s Supreme Court term. My recollection is that I limited my remarks to that issue,” he said. [Rene Alexander Acosta, “Confirmation Hearing on the Nominations of Daniel J. Bryant to Be Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Policy, Department of Justice, and Rene Alexander Acosta to Be Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice,” U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, July 23, 2003, accessed via Wayback Machine Internet Archive website, March 17, 2017.]

Federalist Society member Acosta, in 2003 and 2004, was a “commentator” at the Federalist Society’s annual conferences. The Federalist Society “is one of the most powerful . . . organizations in the conservative orbit.”

Acosta is “a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.” [Jonnelle Marte, “Five Things You Should Know about Alexander Acosta, Trump’s New Pick for Labor Secretary,” Washington Post, February 18, 2017.]

In 2003 and 2004 he was a “commentator” at the Federalist Society’s annual conferences. [Federalist Society, news release, November 12, 2003; and Federalist Society, news release, November 10, 2004.]

“The Federalist Society is one of the most powerful and unique organizations in the conservative orbit, describing itself as ‘a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order.’“ [Amanda Terkel, “The Federalist Society: Where Are They Now?Huffington Post, November 18, 2010.]

Acosta attended a 2004 meeting of the Council for National Policy, which is a “little-known club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country.”

The Council for National Policy “met behind closed doors at undisclosed locations for a confidential conference” in order to “strategize about how to turn the country to the right.”

“Guests may attend ‘only with the unanimous approval of the executive committee.’ In e-mail messages to one another, members are instructed not to refer to the organization by name, to protect against leaks.”

“Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld” were noted to have attended meetings. The organization was founded as part of “the modern conservative movement,” and as a “Christian conservative alternative to what they believed was the liberalism of the Council on Foreign Relations.”

“A spokesman for Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta confirmed that” he had been in attendance in 2004 and spoke about “human trafficking.” [David D. Kirkpatrick, “The 2004 Campaign: The Conservatives; Club of the Most Powerful Gathers in Strictest Privacy,” New York Times, August 28, 2004.]

Acosta contributed to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and Donald Trump, and the Senate campaign of Ted Cruz.

Acosta contributed:

  • $700 to Bush for President in 2000;
  • $1,000 to Bush-Cheney ‘04 in 2004;
  • $500 to Ted Cruz for Senate in 2011;
  • $2,500 to Romney for President in 2012;
  • $2,700 to Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign in 2015; and
  • $2,000 to Donald J. Trump for President in 2016. [Political MoneyLine search for Alex Acosta, Congressional Quarterly, accessed March 10, 2017.]

Acosta did work on the Florida recount, campaign work in Pennsylvania, and “assisted” a George W. Bush transition team.

“Acosta became involved with the Civil Rights Division soon after President George W. Bush was elected into office. During that time, he assisted a transition team and served as principal deputy assistant attorney general.” [“R. Alex Acosta: A Civil Rights Champion,” Gulliver Schools’ The Atrium, Winter 2004, 30-31.]

During his Senate confirmation hearing in 2000 Acosta said, “I did not participate in the Florida recount. I did not participate in the Florida litigation. I did help obtain names of individuals who could be contacted to participate in the recount and the litigation. I compiled a list of individuals and passed them along to the campaign who I thought would be useful to contact to see if they had the time to participate.”

“With respect to Pennsylvania, I traveled to Pennsylvania and spent, I believe, two or three days doing grassroots campaigning in Pennsylvania.” [Rene Alexander Acosta, “Confirmation Hearing on the Nominations of Daniel J. Bryant to Be Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Policy, Department of Justice, and Rene Alexander Acosta to Be Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice,” U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, July 23, 2003.]

Acosta served on Mitt Romney’s 2012 National Hispanic Steering Committee and Justice Advisory Committee.

Acosta served on Mitt Romney’s 2012 National Hispanic Steering Committee and Justice Advisory Committee. [Ashley Killough, “Bork to Co-Chair Romney Justice Committee,” CNN, August 2, 2011; and Mitt Romney for President, news release, January 27 2012.]


Biography

Acosta was born on January 16, 1969. He is “the son of Cuban Immigrants” and “his first language was Spanish.” [Rene Alexander Acosta, “Confirmation Hearing on the Nominations of Daniel J. Bryant to Be Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Policy, Department of Justice, and Rene Alexander Acosta to Be Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice,” U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, July 23, 2003; and “Rene Alexander Acosta,” Florida Division of Elections website, accessed February 16, 2017.]

Acosta graduated “Gulliver Preparatory School in the Miami area” in 1986, then “earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his law degree from Harvard Law School.” [Editorial, “Good Job, Mr. Trump (There, We said It!)—Alex Acosta Is a Great Cabinet Pick,” Miami Herald, February 16, 2017; “R. Alexander Acosta,” FIU website, accessed March 16, 2017; and “Gulliver Highlights,” Gulliver Schools website, March 2015.]

Between receiving an undergraduate degree from Harvard and going to law school, Acosta “worked as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers in New York.” He said, “I was assigned to the privatization group because I could speak Spanish,” and “I spent a lot of time in Venezuela, [and] a little bit in Argentina working on Latin American privatization.” [“R. Alexander Acosta,” U.S. Century Bank webstie, accessed March 16, 2017; and “Law Candidate Presentation by Alex Acosta for position of dean of University of Florida Levin College of Law, (58:59), February 21, 2014, accessed March 16, 2017.]

Acosta, while at Harvard Law School, was a member of Lincoln’s Inn, which was a social club that was notorious for “drinking, laughing, shouting, cheering, flirting, cavorting, brawling, staggering, cursing, door-slamming, wall-banging, record-playing, engine-racing, wheel-screeching, piano-playing and vomiting at their all-night, all-you-can-drink parties.” Efforts by the neighborhood to control Lincoln’s Inn members included “letter-writing campaigns, petition drives, noise logs, and heated sessions before the local license commission and City Council.” [David Margolick, “To Harvard Neighbors, A Once-Venerable Club Is Now Affront to Law,” New York Times, June 28, 1991; and “Alexander Acosta ‘94 Nominated to Be Labor Secretary,” Harvard Law Today, February 16, 2017.]

Acosta, after graduating from law school in 1994, “clerked for Judge Samuel Alito on the Third Circuit,” taught “at the George Mason School of Law,” and “worked as an appellate attorney at Kirkland and Ellis.” [Rene Alexander Acosta, “Confirmation Hearing on the Nominations of Daniel J. Bryant to Be Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Policy, Department of Justice, and Rene Alexander Acosta to Be Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice,” U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, July 23, 2003; Curt Anderson, “Alito Swears in Acosta as Miami’s Top Federal Prosecutor,” Associated Press, October 26, 2006; “Dean R. Alexander Acosta,” The Federalist Society website, accessed March 16, 2017; and “Alexander Acosta ‘94 Nominated to Be Labor Secretary,” Harvard Law Today, February 16, 2017.]

Acosta “was a senior fellow from 1997 to 2000 at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he directed the Project on the Judiciary to campaign against ‘activist judges.’“ [Tom Brune, “Advocates Split Over Civil Rights Nominee; White House Backs Conservative Hispanic,” Newsday, July 7, 2003; and “Remarks of R. Alexander Acosta at the Project on the Judiciary’s May 19, 1997 Press Conference,” Ethics and Public Policy Center, February 3, 1999, accessed via Wayback Machine Internet Archive website. March 16, 2017.]

In 2000, he served on George W. Bush’s presidential transition team, and “at the beginning of the Bush administration in 2001” he “joined Justice’s Civil Rights Division as principal deputy–the no. 2 position– until he left in November 2002 for a seat on the National Labor Relations Board” (NLRB). [Tom Brune, “Advocates Split Over Civil Rights Nominee; White House Backs Conservative Hispanic,” Newsday, July 7, 2003; and “Bush to Give Miamian Nod as First Hispanic in Top Rights Post,” Associated Press, June 20, 2003.]

In August 2003, he left the NLRB to be the assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. He served in this position from August 2003 to June 2005. [Greenebaum Doll & McDonald PLLC, “NLRB Issues Flurry of Decisions,” Kentucky Employment Law Letter, December 2003; U.S. Department of Justice, “Statement of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales on the Resignation of Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta,” news release, June 10, 2005; and “Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta,” White House Archives website, accessed March 16, 2017.]

From June 2005 to June 2009 Acosta served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. [Tony Doris, “Alexander Acosta: Trump Labor Pick’s History in South Florida,” Palm Beach Post, February 16, 2017; and “Update on Alex Acosta ’86,” Gulliver Schools’ The Atrium, Summer 2005, 29.]

In 2009, he “became the second dean” at the law school at Florida International University (FIU). [“R. Alexander Acosta,” FIU website, accessed March 16, 2017.]

“Mr. Acosta also has been chairman of U.S. Century Bank in Miami since late 2013.” U.S. Century Bank “received $50.2 million” in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds “in August 2009 in exchange for shares that taxpayers sold in March 2015 for $11.7 million, a $38.5 million loss, according to Treasury Department records.” [Eric Morath, “Trump Picks Alexander Acosta to Serve as Labor Secretary,” Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2017; and Brian Bandell, “U.S. Century Bank Wins Foreclosure Judgment on 2,641 Acres,” South Florida Business Journal, August 1, 2014.]

Acosta also has served as the president and chairman of the Gulliver Schools Board of Trustees. [Gulliver Highlights 27, no. 7 (March 2015):1; and “Gulliver Schools, Inc.,” Division of Corporations, Florida Department of State SunBiz.org website, accessed March 15, 2017.]

He “serves on the Florida Innocence Commission, on the Florida Supreme Court’s Commission on Professionalism, on the American Bar Association’s Commission for Hispanic Rights and Responsibilities, and on the American Bar Association’s Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Education Pipeline.” [“Dean R. Alexander Acosta,” The Federalist Society website, accessed March 16, 2017.]

Acosta is married to Jan Elizabeth Williams Acosta. They have two children and live in Coral Gables, FL. [Jeff Schweers, “FIU Law Dean Alexander Acosta Interviewing for UF Law Dean Post,” Gainesville (FL) Sun, February 19, 2014; and Jay Weaver, Patricia Mazzei, and Nicholas Nehamas, “Trump’s Labor Pick Is FIU Law Dean and a Former Miami U.S. Attorney,” Miami Herald, February 16, 2017.]

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