Last week, ThinkProgress reported that President Obama nominated David Barlow, the chief legal adviser to Tea Party Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), to be the next U.S. attorney in Utah. As we explained then, Barlow’s close association with Lee raises very serious questions about whether he can be trusted to fill this important job unless he firmly and unambiguously disavows many of his boss’ most radical views. Lee believes that federal child labor laws, FEMA, food stamps, the FDA, Medicaid, income assistance for the poor, and even Medicare and Social Security violate the Constitution.
There are plausible reasons why an attorney who does not believe that the Constitution gives the middle finger to seniors and working Americans could come to work for someone like Lee — it is even possible that Barlow sought the U.S. attorney nomination because he wanted a face-saving way to leave a job that forces him to push a dangerous and radical interpretation of the Constitution. Nevertheless, Barlow appears to be a very early supporter of Lee’s senate candidacy. He made the maximum legal contribution to Lee’s campaign as early as January of 2010 — long before many political observers realized that Lee could exploit Utah’s arcane GOP nominations process to take out a three term incumbent Republican senator:
Lee used to work at Barlow’s former law firm, so it is possible that the men developed a personal relationship that inspired Barlow to contribute so generously to the radical tenther’s campaign. Moreover, a White House spokesperson assures ThinkProgress that “the President is confident that Mr. Barlow will exercise his discretion to further the priorities and needs of citizens of Utah in a manner consistent with this Administration’s priorities.” It would be unfair to assume that Barlow must believe everything that his boss believes about the Constitution.
Nevertheless, Barlow’s close association with Lee — both as a close adviser and as a top donor — does need to be explained. If Barlow disagrees with Lee that child labor laws, Social Security, and Medicare are unconstitutional, then he should publicly say as much before he receives a confirmation vote in the Senate.