Senate Democrats Ready to Block Sledd

Senate Democrats say they have the votes to reject Commerce and Trace Secretary-Designate Bob Sledd, if he refuses to resign from three corporate boards.

Sledd, a former Richmond businessman tapped by Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell (R), says he wants to stay on in those capacities to keep in touch with the business community.

But state Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) tells me her party is united on the issue.

“Mr. Sledd can be either Cabinet secretary or on corporate boards, but there is a conflict for him to try and do both,” she said.

Howell chairs the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee, the first panel to vote on Sledd’s confirmation. She said all 22 Senate Democrats have pledged to vote against Sledd unless he resigns from the corporate boards.

Democrats say they are worried that Sledd could be forced to choose between his responsibilities to the companies and his obligations to the people of Virginia.

State Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) — who lost to McDonnell in last year’s gubernatorial election — told me that Sledd’s dual roles marked “a clear conflict of interest.”

He confirmed that he would vote against the secretary-designate, unless the situation changed.

Howell said she hoped the governor-elect’s office would come up with a compromise.

“If Mr. Sledd were to resign from the boards, we would be delighted to confirm him,” she said. “It’s nothing at all personal.”

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin declined to comment further on  the situation. The governor-elect has previously expressed full confidence in all of his Cabinet picks

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