Sen. Al Franken on Thursday slammed President Trump's nominee to be the next deputy secretary of labor, Patrick Pizzella, over his ties to ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who as convicted of federal crimes including attempted bribery in 2006.
Franken, D-Minn., said Pizzella's work on behalf of Abramoff was "pretty shocking." He noted that Pizzella lobbied against legislation proposed in 2000 by then-Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, that would have increased the minimum wage for workers on the Northern Marianas Islands, a U.S. territory, even after reports at the time found conditions for workers on the island "deplorable."
"Were you aware of the conditions on the island when you lobbied against Murkowski's legislation?" Franken asked.
Pizzella said he wasn't aware and called the reports "allegations." Franken said he found it hard to believe that Pizzella didn't know, pointing to the contemporary reports.
"They were documented. They are not just accusations," Franken said.
Pizzella defended himself by saying that his work on behalf of Abramoff never put him in legal jeopardy, and that he wasn't certain he had lobbied on the Northern Marianas Island.
"I was not one of Abramoff's colleagues who was convicted," he said.
But Franken was unimpressed.
"I know that. Congratulations," he said. Later in the hearing, the senator produced lobbying records confirming that Pizzella had lobbied against the legislation.