GOP senators express ethics concerns in confirmation hearing for Biden public lands nominee

Some Republican senators are raising questions about President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

According to Fox News, among the GOP’s primary issues with Tracy Stone-Manning is a personal loan she received in 2008 from a developer friend of hers at an interest rate well below average. Stone-Manning was grilled on this and other topics of concern during a confirmation hearing Tuesday.

Saving money

In a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-MS) questioned Stone-Manning on the loan, which was reportedly in the amount of at least $50,000. The senator noted that the interest rate on that loan was only 6%, while a standard consumer loan at that time would have had an interest rate of around 11%.

Stone-Manning reportedly received that loan from Montana real estate developer Stuart Goldberg, who she described as a personal friend. According to Fox, the loan came when Stone-Manning was serving as the state director for Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).

In the Tuesday hearing, the Biden nominee insisted there were no ethical concerns with the loan and that it had been necessary to help her family as they were struggling with the fallout of the 2008 economic recession.

She went on to deny Marshall’s insinuation that she had “gained something” of value with the low interest rate, though simple math shows she could have saved tens of thousands of dollars in interest.

“We need clarity”

According to Montana’s Billings Gazette, the questions from Sen. Marshall and Stone-Manning’s responses have only fueled questions about her fitness to serve in the Biden administration, particularly among congressional Republicans like Sen. Steve Daines (MT).

“The Senator has concerns with something raised by another senator at the hearing on an ethics issue about Ms. Stone-Manning receiving a heavily discounted personal loan while serving as a congressional staffer,” a spokesperson for Daines said in a statement to the media.

The spokesperson added: “He believes before we can move forward with consideration of Ms. Stone-Manning’s nomination, we need clarity on terms and circumstances.”

“You’ve been incredibly partisan”

Republicans also reportedly raised concerns Tuesday about Stone-Manning’s public opposition to the now-canceled Keystone XL Pipeline project. Others were worried about her work history as a Democratic staffer and environmentalist activist.

“You’ve been incredibly partisan in your past,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said, according to the Associated Press. “It seems like from your heart, you really don’t care for Republicans.”

Add in her liberal views and an allegedly dubious loan, and it’s no wonder that Senate Republicans are reluctant to see Stone-Manning confirmed to public office.

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