Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is resigning from the Department of Labor (DOL) following controversy over his role in financier Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal for crimes committed when Acosta was a U.S. attorney in Florida.
Epstein was required to register as a sex offender following two state prostitution charges in 2008 and ended up serving a custodial sentence of 13 months in jail, where he was allowed out on during the day on work release. He was also required to pay restitution to those victims identified by the FBI.
Acosta had stated his support of the plea deal since 2008, even as further evidence was released after the outcome.
“Some may feel that the prosecution should have been tougher,” Acosta said in a 2011 letter to the Daily Beast, according to the Washington Post. “Evidence that has come to light since 2007 may encourage that view… I supported the judgement then, and based on the state of the law as it then stood and the evidence known at the time, I would support the judgement again.”
However, when Acosta spoke with CNBC recently, he expressed frustration over the lack of sentence time Epstein received. “The work release was complete BS,” Acosta said. He told reporters his office had meant for Epstein to complete his full sentence, at 18 months, in prison.
Even as Acosta faced mounting pressure from members of the Left Party to resign these past days, Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti said Democrats may regret their demands for his resignation. “Democrats might end up regretting calling for Acosta’s resignation because it is true that many conservatives feel that Acosta has been slow rolling some of the labor deregulation agenda of this president,” Continetti said. “So you might get a replacement for him should he resign who would actually be much more forward leaning in terms of deregulating the labor market.”
President Donald Trump has stated that Deputy Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella will take Acosta’s place in an acting capacity, according to CNBC. Pizzella was nominated to serve as deputy secretary by President Trump, and was sworn in by Acosta in April 2018. Previously, Pizzella had acted as a member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) under former President Barack Obama, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, under past President George W. Bush.
Acosta stated his resignation will be effective one week from the announcement.