Remarks as prepared for delivery.
Good morning. Thank you, Tom and David. Thank you, Senator Reid and Senator Sessions for taking the time to join us during this busy season on Capitol Hill. We’re honored to have you with us here today.
It’s a pleasure to celebrate the installation of Laurie Robinson as the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, and Ron Weich as the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs.
Laurie and Ron are not only valued colleagues, they are leaders in the Department and throughout this Administration. Their credentials are impeccable; their qualifications are self-evident; and their professional reputations for integrity are well-deserved.
These qualifications are essential because as liaisons to our partners in state and local governments, and our partners on Capitol Hill, Laurie and Ron help coordinate and advance the cause of justice beyond the walls of this Department.
In addition to being exceptional leaders and liaisons, Laurie and Ron are exceptional people. They have committed themselves whole-heartedly to the work of the Department, and during their time here they have proven themselves to be exemplary Assistant Attorneys General.
As many of you know, Laurie and I had the pleasure of working together at the Department before, when Laurie was the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs from 1993 until 2000, and I served as the U.S. Attorney in D.C. and then as the Deputy Attorney General.
During that time, Laurie oversaw the largest increase in federal spending on criminal justice research in United States history. She handled this responsibility with her characteristic energy, grace and effectiveness. And it was directly because of her efforts that the Department of Justice spearheaded initiatives in all areas of crime control and prevention.
So, maybe it’s not so hard to understand why, when we were considering candidates to be the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, I had a hard time imagining anyone more energetic, more knowledgeable, more passionate or more committed, than Laurie.
She, however, was less convinced. She loved her life directing the University of Pennsylvania’s Masters Program in the School of Criminology, her engagement with various nonprofit boards, her relative freedom from her blackberry, and her time with her husband, Sheldon.
But David, Tom and I were of one mind on this issue. And although it took a few months, and at least one call to her beloved husband, eventually, Laurie and Sheldon relented and she agreed to rejoin us at the helm of the Office of Justice Programs. And she did so for one reason – she is the epitome of a public servant, who acts selflessly on behalf of the people of this nation.
Laurie, you have my personal and sincere thanks for your service to our Department and to the nation.
I first came to know Ron during my most recent confirmation process. I was dubious at first because he went to a rival high school in New York City. Once I got him to admit that my school was better than his I knew we would work well together.
Ron took a leave of absence from his position as Chief Counsel to Senator Reid (thank you Senator!) to become an integral part, the leader, of my confirmation team.
In this capacity, Ron facilitated meetings with various Senators and helped me prepare for my “spirited” hearing and confirmation process.
With Ron’s thoughtful counsel, I found myself well-prepared and the process less excruciating than I might have expected. Thank you Senator Sessions!
Ron has now brought the same excellence, expansive knowledge, and invaluable good humor that he brought to my confirmation process to the work of the Office of Legislative Affairs.
Under Ron’s leadership, the Office of Legislative Affairs has advanced a number of important administration priorities, including the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
Although not in the spotlight at the center of this effort, Ron and the extraordinary professionals in the Office of Legislative Affairs have labored behind the scenes to ensure that this transformational legislation would be passed and enacted. Ron, you are my right arm when I go up to Capitol Hill. Thank you for your faithful service and for all that you have done here at the Department and while you served on the Hill. You are an extraordinary public servant.
Laurie and Ron, I am personally grateful to you both, and I know I speak for all of us in the Department when I say we couldn’t be more pleased that you both accepted President Obama’s nominations to serve in this Administration and this Department.