Tata, a retired army brigadier general, Fox News regular writer, writer and former school and state official, has come under fire since CNN reported on the disparaging comments he made on Twitter about Islam and prominent Democratic leaders including the so-called former President Barack Obama “a terrorist leader” and calling Islam “the most oppressive violent religion I know of.”
“You just can’t run a diverse department while having so much disregard for diverse people,” the groups argued. “A vote for Anthony Tata would be a vote to confirm one of the most clearly intolerant executive nominees in recent memory. We urge you to vocally and unequivocally reject Tata’s nomination.”
The White House and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the letter.
Amid the backlash, several Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by senior member Jack Reed, protested against Tata’s nomination. And several high-profile retired generals also withdrew their support for Tata.
Tata withdrew her earlier comments in a letter to Reed and Armed Services President Jim Inhofe (Republican of Okla.), First reported by The Hill, in which the retired general of a star asked leaders “to Judge by my 30+ year career and record of achievement and not a few unfortunate tweets that I fully denounce. “
The letter was organized by the NAACP, the Muslim Advocates, the American Federation of Teachers, the Action Fund of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Disability Rights.
The groups also closed Tata’s record as superintendent of the Wake County Public School System in North Carolina, saying he “dismantled a nationally praised desegregation program.” Tata spent less than two years in the position before being rejected by the school board and was also secretary of transportation for North Carolina under Republican Governor Pat McCrory.
No Senate Republican has publicly opposed Tata until now. But Defense News reported that Inhofe plans to hold a meeting of committee Republicans to assess their support for the nominee.
Meanwhile, time on the Senate calendar is short. Tata is one of nine pending nominees on the Armed Services Committee, and the focus of the panel is now on passing annual defense policy legislation, to be debated in the Senate this week and next.