Alexander Acosta

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Alexander Acosta
Alexander Acosta official photo.jpg
27th United States Secretary of Labor
Assumed office
April 28, 2017
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Tom Perez
Dean of Florida International University College of Law
In office
July 1, 2009 – April 28, 2017
Preceded by Leonard Strickman
Succeeded by Vacant
United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida
In office
June 11, 2005 – June 5, 2009
Acting: June 11, 2005 – August 3, 2006
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded by Marcos Jiménez
Succeeded by Willy Ferrer
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
In office
August 22, 2003 – June 11, 2005
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Bradley Schlozman (Acting)
Succeeded by Wan J. Kim
Personal details
Born Rene Alexander Acosta
(1969-01-16) January 16, 1969 (age 48)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jan Williams
Education Harvard University (BA, JD)

Rene Alexander Acosta (born January 16, 1969)[1] is an American attorney, dean, and politician who is the 27th and current United States Secretary of Labor.[2] A Republican, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to the National Labor Relations Board and later served as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and federal prosecutor for the Southern District of Florida. On February 16, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Acosta to be United States Secretary of Labor. Acosta is the first Hispanic member of Trump's cabinet.[3][4][5] He is the former the dean of Florida International University College of Law.

Background[edit]

Acosta is the only son of Cuban immigrants.[6] He is a native of Miami, Florida, where he attended the Gulliver Schools. He received an A.B. degree in economics from Harvard College in 1990 and graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School 1994.[7]

Following law school, Acosta served as a law clerk to Samuel Alito, then a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, from 1994 to 1995.[8] Acosta then worked at the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, where he specialized in employment and labor issues.[9] While in Washington, Acosta taught classes on employment law, disability-based discrimination law, and civil rights law at the George Mason University School of Law.[10]

On December 31, 2013 Acosta became the new chairman of U.S. Century Bank,[11] the largest domestically owned Hispanic community bank in Florida and one of the 15 largest Hispanic community banks in the nation. He spearheaded the effort to establish the J.M. degree in banking compliance, BSA and anti-money-laundering at FIU Law. Acosta is a member of the Board of Trustees of Gulliver Schools, where he served a past term as board chairman.[12]

Executive Branch service[edit]

Acosta served in four presidentially appointed, U.S. Senate-confirmed positions in the Bush administration. From December 2001 to December 2002, he served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division.[13] From December 2002 to August 2003, he was a member of the National Labor Relations Board where he participated in or authored more than 125 opinions.[14]

Following the NLRB, he became Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division on August 22, 2003.[15] While leading the division, he allowed Bradley Schlozman to make decisions on hiring.[16] A report by the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility later found that Schlozman illegally used his authority to give preferential treatment to conservatives and made false statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee. These findings were relayed to the office of the US Attorney for the District of Columbia,[13] but he was not prosecuted.[16] While it placed primary responsibility on Schlozman, the report also concluded that Acosta "did not sufficiently supervise Schlozman," and that "in light of indications [he and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sheldon Bradshaw] had about Schlozman’s conduct and judgment, they failed to ensure that Schlozman’s hiring and personnel decisions were based on proper considerations."[13][16]

In 2005, Acosta was appointed United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida[13]

U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida[edit]

Acosta during his tenure as U.S. Attorney

In 2005, Acosta began serving as U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida, where his office prosecuted the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the terrorism suspect José Padilla, the founders of the Cali Cartel, and Charles McArther Emmanuel, the son of Liberia’s former leader.[17]

The District also targeted white collar crime, prosecuting several bank-related cases, including one against Swiss bank UBS. The case resulted in UBS paying $780 million in fines, and for the first time in history, the bank provided the United States with the names of individuals who were using secret Swiss bank accounts to avoid U.S. taxes.[18]

Other notable cases during his tenure include the corruption prosecution of Palm Beach County Commission Chairman Tony Masilotti, Palm Beach County Commissioner Warren Newell, and Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne; the conviction of Cali Cartel founders Miguel and Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, for the importation of 200,000 kilos of cocaine, which resulted in a $2.1 billion forfeiture; and the white-collar crime prosecutions of executives connected to Hamilton Bank.[19]

Acosta also emphasized health-care fraud prosecutions. Under Acosta’s leadership the District prosecuted more than 700 individuals, responsible for a total of more than $2 billion in Medicare fraud.[20]

Dean of the Florida International University College of Law[edit]

On July 1, 2009, Acosta became the second dean of Florida International University College of Law. During Acosta’s tenure FIU Law has risen to #100 in the U.S. News and World Report Rankings, improved its student to faculty ratio from 16.2 to 1, to 12.8 to 1, and reduced its class size by 40%.[citation needed]

Secretary of Labor[edit]

Acosta being sworn in as the Secretary of Labor by Vice President Mike Pence, on April 28, 2017.

After the nomination of Andrew Puzder to United States Secretary of Labor was withdrawn, President Donald Trump announced in a press conference on February 16, 2017, that he would nominate Acosta to fill the position.[21][22][23][24][25]

On April 27, 2017, Acosta was confirmed by the U.S. Senate by a 60–38 vote.[26]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Acosta has twice been named one of the nation’s 50 most influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business Magazine. He serves on the Florida Innocence Commission,[27] on the Florida Supreme Court’s Commission on Professionalism,[28] and on the Commission for Hispanic Rights and Responsibilities.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Weaver, Jay; Yanez, Luisa (May 28, 2009). "U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta to lead FIU's law school". The Miami Herald. 
  2. ^ "U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta to head FIU law school". Miami Herald. May 27, 2009. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Trump to name Alexander Acosta as labor secretary nominee". Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  4. ^ CNN, John King, Manu Raju and Dan Merica. "Trump to announce Alexander Acosta as labor secretary pick". Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Trump to name Alexander Acosta as new Labor secretary nominee". Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  6. ^ Miami Herald: "Former U.S. attorney in Miami and FIU law dean picked by Trump to head Labor" By Jay Weaver February 16, 2017
  7. ^ "Alexander Acosta '94 nominated to be labor secretary". Harvard Law Today. February 16, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2017. 
  8. ^ Adams, T. Becket (February 16, 2017). "6 things to know about Alexander Acosta, Trump's new pick for labor secretary". Washington Examiner. Retrieved February 21, 2017. 
  9. ^ King, John; Raju, Manu; Merica, Dan (February 16, 2017). "Trump names first Hispanic Cabinet pick". CNN. Retrieved February 21, 2017. 
  10. ^ Smith, Nancy (February 16, 2017). "FIU Law School Dean, Alexander Acosta, Trump's Secretary of Labor Pick". Sunshine State News. Retrieved February 21, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Former U.S. Attorney becomes chairman of U.S. Century Bank". By Brian Bandell of South Florida Business Journal. December 12, 2013. Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Our Leadership". Gulliver School. Retrieved February 21, 2017. 
  13. ^ a b c d Office of the Inspector General; Office of Professional Responsibility (13 January 2009). An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division (PDF) (Report). Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  14. ^ Morrow, Brendan. "R. Alexander Acosta: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". 
  15. ^ Vitali, Ali; Alexander, Peter (16 February 2017). "Trump Announces Alexander Acosta as New Labor Secretary Pick". NBC News. Retrieved 21 February 2017. 
  16. ^ a b c Serwer, Adam. "The Scandal That May Haunt the New Nominee for Labor Secretary". The Atlantic. Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  17. ^ Rappeport, Alan (February 16, 2017). "R. Alexander Acosta, Law School Dean, Is Trump's New Pick for Labor". New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2017. 
  18. ^ Graham, David (February 16, 2017). "Trump's New Pick for Secretary of Labor: Alexander Acosta". The Atlantic. Retrieved February 21, 2017. 
  19. ^ Wilkie, Dana (February 16, 2017). "Alexander Acosta Is Trump's New Pick for Labor Secretary". Society for Human Resource Management. Retrieved February 21, 2017. 
  20. ^ "The Issue: Health Care Fraud Costly". Sun Sentinel. May 24, 2009. Retrieved February 21, 2017. 
  21. ^ www.whitehouse.gov: Press release
  22. ^ http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-set-announce-alexander-acosta-new-labor-secretary-pick-n721771
  23. ^ Baker, Peter (February 16, 2017). "R. Alexander Acosta, Law School Dean, Is Trump's New Pick for Labor". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  24. ^ washingtonpost.com February 17, 2017: In an erratic performance, President Trump shows his supporters who’s boss
  25. ^ nytimes.com: ‘I Inherited a Mess,’ Trump Says, Defending His Performance
  26. ^ United States Senate. "On the Nomination (Confirmation R. Alexander Acosta, of Florida, to be Secretary of Labor )". 
  27. ^ http://www.flcourts.org/gen_public/innocence.shtml
  28. ^ http://www.floridabar.org/tfb/TFBProfess.nsf/840090c16eedaf0085256b61000928dc/376813661f52024885256b2f006cce12
  29. ^ http://www.americanbar.org/advocacy/commission_on_hispanic_legal_rights_responsibilities.html

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Bradley Schlozman
Acting
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
2003–2005
Succeeded by
Wan J. Kim
Preceded by
Marcos Jiménez
United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida
2005–2009
Succeeded by
Willy Ferrer
Academic offices
Preceded by
Leonard Strickman
Dean of Florida International University College of Law
2009–2017
Vacant
Political offices
Preceded by
Tom Perez
United States Secretary of Labor
2017–present
Incumbent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Wilbur Ross
as Secretary of Commerce
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Labor
Succeeded by
Tom Price
as Secretary of Health and Human Services
United States presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Wilbur Ross
as Secretary of Commerce
11th in line
as Secretary of Labor
Succeeded by
Tom Price
as Secretary of Health and Human Services