For U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, the #MeToo moment has passed.
Rattled by criticism of her handpicked nominee for the federal bench over his treatment of a teen sex abuse victim, the 76-year-old senior senator is turning her ire on victims’ advocacy groups opposing the nomination.
The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to take up New Hampshire Democrat Michael Delaney’s nomination to the federal bench on Thursday. But consideration was delayed once again due to a lack of bipartisan support and persistent pressure from progressive groups.
One problem is the absence of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) due to health reasons. Another is the lack of any bipartisan support for the troubled nominee over concerns about Delaney’s handling of a sex assault case on behalf of elite St. Paul’s boarding school in Concord.
The National Women’s Law Center, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and People for the American Way are among the activist groups that wrote the committee expressing “grave concerns” about Delaney.
Shaheen, who has been a tireless advocate of the well-connected Democrat’s nomination in the face of steady criticism, decided she has had enough.
“I think those progressive groups did not do their homework very well,” Shaheen said Wednesday. “They did not really talk to the broad range of supporters that he has in New Hampshire, and they have factual inaccuracies in what they’ve said.”
Shaheen would not tell NHJournal what “inaccuracies” she had in mind.
“It’s such an arrogant response. She’s insulting progressives because she’s being partisan and they’re calling her out,” a Granite State progressive activist told NHJournal on background. “If Delaney was a Republican, she’d be treating him like [Brett] Kavanaugh. And she should.”
Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters he was hoping for Feinstein’s quick return. Democrats need her to give them a one-seat majority on the committee and be able to get Delaney’s nomination on the Senate floor for a simple majority vote. But Delaney has yet to secure the support of the full Democratic caucus.
Meanwhile, Shaheen and her New Hampshire colleague Sen. Maggie Hassan both voted to confirm former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as ambassador to India. Garcetti’s nomination has been held up for two years over reports of a culture of rampant sexual harassment and racial insensitivity in his mayor’s office.
“He is unfit to become an ambassador or really to hold public office anywhere in this country or this world,” said Naomi Seligman, a former communications director for Garcetti.
Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), and Mark Kelly (Ariz.) all voted against Garcetti, whose nomination had to be rescued with votes from a handful of Republicans.
Hirono had been a “yes” vote, but she reversed her position on Wednesday. “Earlier this week I received additional information that, when taken in its totality with the information already available, has led me to be a ‘no’ on Mr. Garcetti’s nomination,” she said in a statement.
Neither Hassan nor Shaheen responded to questions about their ongoing support for both Delaney and Garcetti.