The Republican National Committee blasted a number of vulnerable Democratic senators for their votes Wednesday on a controversial nominee to lead the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.
The Republican campaign arm blasted Democratic Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.) for their vote in favor of Debo Adegbile, whom the RNC described as “a convicted cop-killer’s most ardent defender.”
“This is an embarrassment for President Obama and the Democrats who thought it was a good idea to nominate a convicted cop-killer’s most ardent defender to head a DOJ Department and failed,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.
Adegbile’s nomination has been criticized by the Fraternal Order of Police, among others, which has scolded President Obama for nominating a lawyer involved in the defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981.
“Vulnerable Democrats running in 2014 just voted to confirm a radical nominee whose positions on civil rights, religious liberty, voting rights and the second amendment are far outside the mainstream,” Priebus added.
The RNC specifically blasted Begich, Landrieu and Hagan for voting for the nominee in a series of tweets shortly after the vote.
.@SenatorBegich voted to confirm radical Debo Adegbile. Views on religious liberty, voting rights & 2nd amendment far outside mainstream— Reince Priebus (@Reince) March 5, 2014
.@SenLandrieu Just voted to confirm a convicted cop-killer’s most ardent defender to head a DOJ Department. Seriously.— Reince Priebus (@Reince) March 5, 2014
Adegbile was eventually voted down in a 47-52 vote Wednesday, but a number of vulnerable Democrats cast their vote in favor, regardless.
Apart from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who voted against the nominee for procedural reasons, seven other Democrats voted Adegbile down. They are Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), John Walsh (Mont.), Chris Coons (Del.) and Bob Casey (Pa.).
The NAACP's legal defense fund represented Abu-Jamal during his resentencing after an original death penalty sentence in 1982. Adegbile held various leadership roles in the fund during the time.
In 2011, Abu-Jamal avoided the death penalty after the courts ordered that he should be resentenced due to flaws that were found in his original trial. Adegbile and supporters said the case was limited to a constitutional question about jury selection and he had a background role in it. Regardless, they say, even death row inmates deserve a legal defense.
Critics have said the NAACP defense of Abu-Jamal became more than a legal defense. It turned into a cause against the death penalty, in which advocates claimed racial discrimination, slandered police officers and alleged police abuse.