President Joe Biden’s top allies in Puerto Rico are growing alarmed that the White House is creating a rift with the island’s governor by snubbing his recommendations for three federal court vacancies.
The controversy — fraught with political consequences for Puerto Rican-heavy states like Florida and New York — began to surface last week amid rumblings on the island that a bipartisan consensus pick promoted by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, a Democrat; Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón, a Republican; and Democratic Rep. Darren Soto of Florida might never be interviewed or considered for federal judgeships in the territory.
“The White House has gone tone-deaf,” said Carmelo Ríos Santiago, a Puerto Rico senator and a top ally of Pierluisi who was a Biden campaign co-chairman in Puerto Rico in 2020.
White House spokesman Andrew Bates cautioned that the process is early and said no decisions had been made for any of the three open spots on the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.