The right-leaning Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) is launching a campaign aiming to scuttle the nomination of Vanita Gupta to be the associate attorney general for civil rights by targeting moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in his home state of West Virginia.
With the Senate split 50-50, Manchin — generally considered the most moderate Senate Democrat — holds the power to sink any executive nomination from President Biden as long as Republicans remain united in opposition of that nominee as well.
The campaign comes after Manchin indicated in a comment to CNN that he is “leaning towards” voting to confirm Gupta — who is controversial in part because of pitched rhetoric she’s used against Republicans in recent years. He said, according to CNN, that he is weighing heavily comments from Attorney General Merrick Garland that he is supportive of Gupta for the high-profile civil rights post.
But JCN President Carrie Severino and her group hope to turn Manchin’s constituents — and by extension Manchin — against Gupta with an ad tying her to drug overdoses in West Virginia.
“We see drug overdoses, death. Vanita Gupta, she saw money, profit,” the ad says.
“Vanita Gupta owns between $11 and $55 million dollars in stock in Avantor, a company that manufactures an essential ingredient used to make heroin and meth,” Severino said in a tweet announcing the ad. “Gupta’s father is also the chairman of the board of Avantor.”
Severino added: “While Gupta was advocating for a change to the U.S. drug enforcement policy that would only further line the pockets of herself and her family, people across the United States and West Virginia suffered the devastating effects of the national heroin and meth epidemic.”
Manchin’s state is one of several in the Rust Belt that were hit hard in the opioid crisis last decade.
Gupta has agreed not to participate in any matters having to do with companies in which her family has financial interests or in which her father holds leadership positions.
Gupta at her previous job ran the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, a liberal group that was highly critical of Republicans and Trump nominees.
This has led most Republicans to oppose her nomination on the grounds that she is too far to the left and too divisive to be in the Justice Department. Republicans engaged in a similar effort that blocked Office of Management and Budget director nominee Neera Tanden, who directed her Twitter ire at both Republicans and Democrats.
Nevertheless, current and former police chiefs in more than 53 cities across the country, as well as the National Fraternal Order of Police, have backed Gupta’s nomination, as Fox News first reported.
“We know Ms. Gupta well,” a letter from the police chiefs said, noting that she is “no stranger to police issues, having cut her teeth working on a police misconduct case as a young lawyer in Texas, and later leading the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she undertook investigations of Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Chicago police departments o ensure there was constitutional policing in those departments.”
The chiefs wrote that Gupta has “demonstrated a seriousness and willingness to understand the intense challenges, and even dangers, facing police officers with the intent of improving policing at large without degrading the overwhelming number of brave and honorable police officers.”
They praised her as having proven to be a “strategic problem solver, who is animated by a desire to build greater trust in our communities and make things better.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
Author : Tyler Olson