National Sheriffs’ Association backs Biden pick for key DOJ role


The head of the National Sheriffs’ Association this week wrote to the top lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge swift confirmation of President Biden’s pick for one of the top roles in the Justice Department.

Sheriff David Mahoney penned the letter of support for Vanita Gupta, Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, after some conservative groups have questioned her views on policing ahead of her confirmation hearing next week.

“I have known and worked with Ms. Gupta for several years, and have been extraordinarily impressed by her seriousness, her honesty, and her capacity to engage in fruitful and productive dialogue regarding policing and criminal justice,” Mahoney wrote to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the chairman of the committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee’s vice chair, in a letter obtained first by The Hill.

Mahoney is in his fourth term as sheriff of Dane County in Wisconsin, which includes the state capital of Madison. He praised her commitment to honesty and transparency and her understanding of the issues facing law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

“We have discussed common efforts in building trust, good will and mutual respect within our communities. Our discussions are always productive and filled with insight,” Mahoney wrote in the letter, which is dated March 1.

“I strongly believe that Ms. Gupta is exactly the type of leader who is needed in the Justice Department today,” he added. “She possesses immense credibility among law enforcement leaders and community leaders. She is an effective communicator, a bridge-builder.”

The National Sheriffs’ Association represents more than 3,000 sheriffs nationwide. The letter from Mahoney represents the latest show of support from the law enforcement for Gupta’s nomination as she faces attacks from conservative groups seeking to torpedo her nomination. 

Judicial Crisis Network has led the effort with an ad campaign that labeled Gupta a “dangerous appointee” and suggested she supported defunding the police. Biden has repeatedly said he opposes defunding the police, and Gupta has called for law enforcement to review its investments and priorities in how it polices minority communities. 

Gupta previously served as acting assistant attorney general for the civil rights division at the Justice Department during the Obama administration. She is currently the president and chief executive officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

The National Fraternal Order of Police previously wrote to Durbin and Grassley in support of Gupta.

The show of support comes as Biden has run into roadblocks in the Senate in getting top Justice Department officials confirmed. Biden’s pick for attorney general, Merrick Garland, had his confirmation hearings last week, but Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said Wednesday he planned to block the nominee.

Gupta and Lisa Monaco, Biden’s nominee for deputy attorney general, are set to have their confirmation hearings on March 9.

Tags Chuck Grassley Dick Durbin Joe Biden Merrick Garland Tom Cotton Vanita Gupta

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