Alex Acosta, President Donald Trump’s labor secretary, is facing increasing calls to step down from his position over his handling of a sex abuse case involving financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Acosta, who is set to issue a statement Wednesday about his involvement in the Epstein case, has faced growing criticism over a plea deal that allowed Epstein, who was accused of trafficking underage girls for sex, to plead guilty to two lesser state prostitution charges, pay restitution and serve jail time.
Epstein served 13 months in a county jail on the charges. Had he been prosecuted on state and federal charges, he would have faced life in prison.
The deal brokered by Acosta’s office allowed Epstein to avoid federal charges of human trafficking.
The agreement was kept secret from his victims at the time, which meant they were denied the chance to be any part of the prosecutorial process. In 2015, the details of the deal were unsealed in a lawsuit.
Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that Acosta and his colleagues broke the law when they arranged the 2008 deal without talking with Epstein's victims.
Who is Acosta and how did he become the secretary of Labor?
Here’s a look at his life and career.
- Acosta, 50, was born in Miami, the child of Cuban refugees.
- He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University.
- He worked as a law clerk for Justice Samuel Alito Jr., who at the time was a justice on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
- From there, he worked at the prestigious Washington D.C. law firm of Kirkland & Ellis.
- He taught at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law.
- Acosta was the chairman of U.S. Century Bank, one of the 15 largest Hispanic community banks in the nation.
- Before becoming Labor secretary, Acosta was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve in positions that require U.S. Senate confirmation – principal deputy assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, a member of the National Labor Relations Board, an assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. He was confirmed by the Senate for all four positions.
- On April 27, 2017, Acosta was confirmed as secretary of Labor in a 60-38 vote by the Senate.
- He served as the dean of the Florida International University College of Law.
- He has twice been named by Hispanic Business magazine as one of the country’s 50 most influential Hispanics and was named to a list of 100 most influential individuals in business ethics by the Ethisphere Institute in 2008.
- He was known for a passion for prosecuting human trafficking cases and civil rights issues. A profile in June 2004 in the Miami Herald read, “Conservative, smart and young - he is 35 - Acosta has helped launch anti-trafficking campaigns this year in four cities: Phoenix, Philadelphia, Atlanta and now Tampa. He made more news last month when he reopened the investigation into the death of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black youth whose abduction and killing in Mississippi in 1955 helped spark the civil rights movement.”
- Acosta oversaw federal intervention in an Oklahoma religious liberties case involving a Muslim student who wanted to wear a hijab to public school.
- Acosta has been involved with the Florida Innocence Commission, the Florida Supreme Court's Commission on Professionalism, Florida Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, and the Commission for Hispanic Rights and Responsibilities.
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