Ben Johnson, The White House Watch
Last August as Barack Obama was about to head out for vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, he named a woman accused of spying for Cuba as our ambassador to El Salvador. The recess appointment of Maria (or “Mari”) del Carmen Aponte side-stepped the Congress but could only hold for one year.
Time has run out. On Monday, on their first chance to weigh in on the matter, Senate Republicans blocked her nomination.
This author sounded the alarms on this website last year. President Bill Clinton nominated Aponte to be ambassador to the Dominican Republic lived with Roberto Tamayo, whom Clinton administration officials described as an agent of the Cuban intelligence agency Dirección General de Inteligencia (DGI). In 1993, a Cuban defector named Florentino Aspillaga said Tamayo tried to recruit Aponte on behalf of the Castro regime. Aponte refused to take a polygraph test and withdrew her nomination.
Although her defenders insist she was “cleared” by the FBI, the 1999 Miami Herald article they cite quotes only Bob Nash, a Clinton administration official who went on to serve as vice chairman of ShoreBank before becoming Hillary Clinton’s deputy campaign manager in 2007. He offered no specifics about her allegedly being cleared, and the article that Media Matters uses to vindicate Aponte concludes, “Whether or not there was ever a Cuban attempt to recruit Aponte remains unclear.”
Her actions since that time have raised concerns yet higher. She served on the board of directors of the National Council of La Raza and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF), which is now known as LatinoJustice PRLDEF. That group, which was long headed by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, once issued a press release calling Puerto Rican FALN terrorists “fighters for freedom and justice, for liberation.” Of course, La Raza is the nation’s most outspoken Open Borders ethnocentric lobby.
As ambassador, Aponte wrote an op-ed in the El Salvadoran newspaper La Prensa Grafica lecturing the mostly Catholic nation that it does not do enough to support gay rights. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, who has waged a courageous fight to get full documentation of Aponte’s background, excerpted it in a recent article for Human Events:
“Homophobia” is “often based on lack of understanding about what it truly means to be gay or transgender” the Ambassador wrote in . She went on to say that everyone has a responsibility to “inform our neighbors and friends about what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”
El Salvadorans responded to her progressive meddling with a simple message: butt out. A large coalition of regional leaders replied, “Not accepting the legitimacy of ‘sexual diversity’ does not mean we are violating any human rights.”
Thanks to tough-minded leaders like Sen. DeMint, Aponte should be homeward bound.
Ironically, Obama accused the GOP of playing “politics with America’s national interests” for sending the Hispanic racist and potential Cuban spy back home.
Hispanic left-wingers have decided to — wait for it! — play the race card. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-IL, complained, “Between Mari Carmen Aponte and Sonia Sotomayor, there seems to be something amiss over in the Senate with Republicans refusing to confirm strong, smart Puerto Rican women for important positions for which they are eminently qualified.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, who opposed the nomination, is also feeling the heat from the Sunshine State’s amnesty lobby.
There is no telling whether Aponte will feel the one-year ambassadorship was worth her investment in the Democratic Party. Aponte has donated $49,910 in campaign cash exclusively to Democrats, including Ted Kennedy, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Hilda Solis — and $2,300 to Barack Obama in 2008.
The president did all he could. Thank goodness it was too little.