One day after voting to elevate a divisive conservative judge to the federal appeals court in New Orleans, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein was the president's guest aboard Air Force One. She had been invited to survey the damage from the recent spate of Southern California wildfires.
The senator later remarked privately that she found her conversation with Bush aboard Air Force One "illuminating," a source close to Feinstein told the Huffington Post.
Two weeks later, Feinstein was one of two Democrats on the Senate judiciary committee to vote to send Michael Mukasey's nomination to be the new attorney general to the full Senate. Her support helped turn the tide in favor of a nomination that faced an uncertain future after Mukasey refused to say whether waterboarding was torture.
When the full Senate voted, Feinstein was one of only six Democrats to vote in favor of confirming Mukasey.
Now, a coalition of progressive Democrats upset with Feinstein's controversial votes will ask the California Democratic Party to censure her at its executive board meeting this weekend, the Huffington Post has learned.
The move comes as Feinstein again finds herself under fire for saying Thursday that she now supports granting legal immunity to telecom companies that shared customer email and phone messages with the federal government as part of the warrantless surveillance program.
"Dianne Feinstein does not listen to the people of California," said Rick Jacobs, president of the Courage Campaign, a progressive organization in California. "She supports George Bush's agenda time after time."
Feinstein's office did not respond to messages seeking comment.
East Bay For Democracy, a chartered Democratic Club outside San Francisco, will introduce the censure motion on Saturday at the state party's executive board meeting in Anaheim. The Governing Board of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party and the Progressive Democrats of America are also backing the measure.
In addition to her move to back Mukasey, critics have lashed out at her decision last month to vote to confirm Judge Leslie Southwick to the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Southwick's opponents charged that his record on the bench in Mississippi demonstrated that he was both racist and homophobic. The Congressional Black Caucus, Human Rights Campaign and People for the American Way opposed his nomination.
The censure resolution faces an uphill battle. In order to be considered by the full executive board, it must first make it through the party's resolutions committee, which must approve the text unanimously.
The text of the resolution is below:
Whereas Senator Dianne Feinstein voted to support the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey as United States Attorney General, thereby elevating to the highest position in law enforcement a man who refused to renounce the right of the President to resort to torture and who refused to recognize waterboarding as a form of torture, and by this action Senator Feinstein failed to oppose President Bush and failed to stand for the ideals of the Democratic Party, which abhors torture and stands firmly against its use by the United States at all times and places; and
Whereas Senator Feinstein voted to confirm Judge Leslie Southwick for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit despite his clear record of racism and gender discrimination, thus failing to stand firmly with the Democratic Party, which supports gender equality and opposes racism in any of its manifestations; and
Whereas these examples are far from the only instances where Senator Feinstein, after seeking and securing the support and endorsement of the California Democratic Party, has failed to support the policies and principles of our party
Therefore be it resolved that the California Democratic Party expresses its disappointment at, and censure of, Senator Feinstein for ignoring Democratic principles and falling so far below the standard of what we expect of our elected officials.