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GPO Chief Will Need to Step Down Soon

Just before Senators shipped out for the holiday season today, the chamber returned President Barack Obama’s nomination of William Boarman to head the Government Printing Office.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the floor that new problems had arisen regarding Boarman’s nomination. Boarman had been serving as the U.S. public printer, basically the CEO of the agency, since a recess appointment by Obama nearly one year ago.

Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson (Ga.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah) had blocked Boarman’s nomination from consideration earlier this year because of a dispute over the nomination of a Republican to the National Labor Relations Board.

The two recently removed their hold, according to Reid, who did not refer to the Senators by name. Yet new objections arose, Reid said, effectively killing any chance Boarman had of maintaining his position.

On April 15, 2010, Obama tapped Boarman, then the vice president of the Communications Workers of America, to become the 26th public printer. With 40 years of printing industry and management experience under his belt, Boarman — the president of the union’s Printing, Publishing & Media Workers Sector and former GPO employee — had a bevy of supporters, including then-House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), that all but ensured a swift confirmation. That summer, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee unanimously endorsed Boarman, but his nomination was subject to an anonymous hold.

Some, including conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, questioned Boarman’s commitment to the unique private-public relationship of GPO (60 percent of the agency’s printing activities at the time were procured through private contracts).

There were other issues as well. During a nomination hearing, Boarman admitted to receiving more than $3,000 in erroneous GPO checks, which he claimed he believed were payments. He repaid the dues to the agency, but the mistake likely contributed to his stalled confirmation.

Still, Boarman took the post last winter after Obama skirted the hold on the nomination through a recess appointment. The battle to gain Senate confirmation continued anew when Obama re-nominated him in January, but it was lost today. Boarman will have to step down from the post sometime before the year’s end.

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