Democratic Minnesota Sen. Al Franken is calling for President Obama’s nomination of Antonio Weiss to the Treasury Department to be withdrawn.
Franken is the latest to speak out against Weiss’ nomination on the grounds that he isn’t qualified enough for the position of Under Secretary for Domestic Finance. Franken’s criticism of Weiss stems specifically from his background as an executive at the investment banking firm Lazard.
The Senator sent out an email to supporters that included a link to a petition asking for his support in rejecting Weiss.
“Join me in asking the President to withdraw Antonio Weiss’s nomination,” Franken’s email read. “We need a nominee who will put the middle class first." Franken addressed Weiss’ Wall Street experience, saying that appointing someone with his background would be taking a step in the wrong direction economically.
“More than six years after the crash, the American economy is still recovering," Franken wrote. “We got into that mess because we were willing to let Wall Street police itself. Foxes make poor guards of henhouses. We know that through bitter experience, and I’m not willing to let it happen again.”
Earlier this month, others expressed their disapproval of President Obama’s pick. Simon Johnson, chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, said that while Weiss has experience “advising companies how to buy other companies, particularly across international borders,” such experience is “completely unrelated” to what the position of Under Secretary entails. “It's hard to think of any senior fiscal official from a serious country with qualifications as weak as those of Mr. Weiss,” Johnson said.
Franken’s fellow Democrat, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has also spoken out against Weiss’ nomination.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, however, has defended the president’s choice, saying that Weiss is “somebody who has spent some time thinking about some of the issues that the president believes are critically important.”
“This is somebody who has a very good knowledge of the way that the financial markets work,” Earnest said. “And that is critically important when you're asking somebody to take on a position in the federal government that has such a significant bearing on those markets.”