After years of bulldozing, President Obama finally got Senate confirmation for a scandal-plagued diplomat forced out of a U.S. ambassadorship for her close ties to a terrorist-sponsoring foreign government.
That means a leftist open borders activist (Mari Carmen Aponte) with a controversial past officially represents the administration abroad. In a 62-37 vote last week, the U.S. Senate approved the confirmation of Aponte, a former board member of the National Council of la Raza (NCLR) and Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF), as the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador.
Obama originally nominated Aponte in December 2009 and made her a recess appointee about a year later in order to bypass Republican opposition. As her temporary, one-year tenure expired, Aponte’s confirmation hearing inevitably came up before the Senate. Incredibly, the attorney and independent consultant, was approved to represent the State Department in the civil war-ravaged Central American country.
The highlight of Aponte’s career dates back to the late 1990s when Bill Clinton nominated the Puerto Rican activist as ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Aponte had worked as a volunteer in the White House personnel office and helped raise campaign money for Clinton. But she had a rather large skeleton in her closet, a decade-long romantic relationship with a reported Cuban intelligence spy named Roberto Tamayo. Aponte and Tamayo lived together and the couple met frequently with Cuban intelligence agents, according to various news reports.
Since 1982 Cuba has appeared on the State Department’s list of countries that have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. That means restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance, a ban on defense exports and sales and other financial restrictions. Iran, Sudan and Syria also appear on the list alongside the communist island.
Aponte’s relationship with the Cuban spy came out when the FBI vetted her for the Dominican ambassadorship years ago and inevitably resurfaced when Obama first nominated her to serve in El Salvador. To avoid discussing her relationship with Tamayo at Senate confirmation hearings, Aponte withdrew Clinton’s nomination to be ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
Years later, the nation’s commander-in-chief acts as if none of it ever happened. In a statement celebrating the value of his “perseverance,” Obama praises Aponte as an “honest broker” who has helped advance programs and policies to enhance citizen security in El Salvador while weakening transnational crime that affects our own national security. The president goes on to call Aponte a “highly effective advocate for the United States in El Salvador” who has earned “respect from across the political spectrum.”