Biden Judicial Nominee Finds Her Claims of Never Registering As Lobbyist Contradicted

President Biden's nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals officially claimed that she had never before registered as a lobbyist, but court records have unveiled that to be entirely untrue.

Roopali Desai, the nominee in question, stated in her Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire that she had never before registered herself as a lobbyist. It was later discovered, however, that Desai is currently registered as an inactive lobbyist with the lobbyist database for the Arizona secretary of state. Her presence is said system goes back almost a full decade.

"[I] have not performed lobbying activities or registered as a lobbyist," expressed Desai in her required questionnaire.

It seems that this contradiction went entirely unnoticed by the Senate, as Desai had their nomination expedited rapidly to a Thursday executive business meeting. The Senate Judiciary Committee chose to advance her nomination out to the Senate floor with the only "no" votes being from senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). It is an oddly fast turnaround given how the first hearing for Desai took place just two short weeks ago on July 13th, which in itself was only a single month after her official nomination.

As stated in the most recent  Congressional Research Service (CRS) report about judicial nomination stats, the total amount of time that circuit court nominees wait, on average, until their confirmation stood at 139 days throughout Bill Clinton’s presidency, 216 days during George W. Bush’s presidency, 229 days during Barack Obama’s presidency, and 133 days during Donald Trump’s presidency.

The phone number given on the lobbyist profile for Desai redirects to the Phoenix, Arizona-based Coppersmith, Schermer, & Brockelman law firm, now Coppersmith Brockelman, where Desai currently works as a partner.

The Lobbyist records for Coppersmith Brockelman also highlight that the firm is registered as an inactive lobbyist in the same way. Over their history, they have taken steps to lobby for the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AHHA) from January 2001 to January 2017, Promise Arizona (PAZ) in Action from February 2013 to January 2015, and Sun Health Services from February to September 2002.

The listing for Desai while under Coppersmith Brockelman highlights that she started out as a lobbyist-affiliated employee in February 2013, which was six days after she went before the Arizona Senate Committee on behalf of PAZ in Action. At that time, current Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs was a state senator, serving on the actual committee to which Desai stood before. Desai has sat for a long time as the contract attorney for Hobbs, even going as far as serving on the transition team for the secretary of state.

As part of her testimony, Desai petitioned for the legislature to not drop inactive voters from the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) system for the state.

"I respectfully submit that the conversations that I’ve had with Promise Arizona in Action and other community groups are really talking about whether or not this proposed legislation is good for the voters. And, we believe that it’s not good for the public," stated Desai. "I think there are ways to draft legislation to improve the issue of provisional ballots, and I think one of those ways is to arm the counties with resources and with information about tracking down people who have bad addresses."

That same month, February of 2013, PAZ in Action found itself one of the lobbyist clients for Desai's form. 2013 was also the same year that Desai became a partner at the firm, having been working there as an associate since 2007.

Despite the fact that Desai's lobbying registration was not addressed during the initial senate hearing quite a few years ago, Republicans did not go into other issues. Quite a few other Republican senators did issue their concerns that the vast majority of Desai's legal career and her community leadership advanced Democratic Party interests.


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