SANTA FE — A state senator today said she will oppose Harrison Schmitt’s nomination as a state cabinet secretary because he refuses to allow a background check.
Sen. Linda Lopez, chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, said she met with Schmitt this week at his request, and he said he would not submit to a background investigation.
Schmitt, 75, is Gov. Susana Martinez’s choice to run the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. Lopez said Schmitt cannot set his own rules. Because he will not comply with the law and the confrimation process, Lopez said, she has “no choice but to oppose his confirmation.”
“I sympathize with Mr. Schmitt’s and all conferees’ discomfort when it comes to the background check process,” said Lopez, D-Albuquerque. “... However, the state Senate is constitutionally charged with confirming top state government officials because of the tremendous influence and authority and power provided to those individuals.”
Schmitt is scheduled to appear Monday before Lopez’s committee. She said the focus would not be on his qualifications but on his refusal to follow the screening process.
Schmitt is a Harvard-educated geologist. He walked on the moon in 1972 as a NASA astronaut and served one term as a Republican U.S. senator from New Mexico. The governor was not immediately available for comment on Schmitt’s position.