Newsletter #19 – Can we trust the info coming from Governor Haslam’s office?

TCPJ Newsletter #19 – June 17, 2012

GOVERNOR HASLAM CAN’T SEEM TO GET HIS STORY STRAIGHT regarding Ms. Samar Ali’s appointment to the Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commission.  The problem seems to be that the Governor is deliberately trying to publicly obscure known, relevant and easily-found-on-the-internet facts about Ms. Ali’s areas of legal expertise and political involvement.

For example, the White House seemed to think her expertise in Shariah Compliant Finance was important enough to include in the White House bio that was published when Ms. Ali was appointed as a White House fellow:

“Samar Ali is an Associate with the firm Hogan Lovells US LLP.  She is responsible for counseling clients on mergers & acquisitions, cross-border transactions, Shari’a compliant transactions, project finance, and international business matters…..She is a founding member of the first U.S. Delegation to the World Islamic Economic Forum…”

The Global Islamic Finance Magazine also proudly noted:

“President Obama has announced his appointment of Shariah Finance Specialist Samar Ali to serve as one of the 13 fellows of the White House. Ms Samar Ali is an attorney who specialises on Islamic Shariah compliant finance and regularly advises clients on Islamic transactions and was founding member of first U.S delegation to the World Islamic Economic Forum.”

Putting aside Ms. Ali’s professional experience and political endeavors, perhaps Tennesseans should be most concerned about what the Governor’s office has instructed legislators to relay to anyone who inquires:

“She is a Vanderbilt graduate, a Vanderbilt law student.  She is from Waverly, Tennessee and has been hired by the State of Tennessee.  She was employed by one of the nations top law firms after graduating Vanderbilt University.  She was part of the White House Fellows Program which is a non partisan internship program.  She was with the National Security Council.  She was cleared by the US Intelligence Agency as no threat to the US.  Her job was to work with companies that are having trouble working with companies abroad.  She was very good at this because of her understanding of different cultures.  Nathan Buttery with the Governor’s office, said he would be happy to clear up anything that may upset you with this issue.”

Then the Governor had this to say as reported by News Channel 5:

“When asked about his stance on the issue, Haslam said that freedom of religion is guaranteed in our country, and that he looked forward to working with Ms. Ali.

“Samar is a highly qualified person, who has taken a role with our Economic Development Department . She comes with a great track record and a lot of experience and we think she’ll be a great employee for the state of Tennessee,” said Haslam.

Samar Ali’s appointment should concern Tennesseans for a number of reasons, least of all calling into question the credibility of any information coming from the Governor’s office.

There is much more information to follow.  In the meantime, shouldn’t the Governor’s office be held accountable to at least be honest with the Tennesseans that put him in office?