Mystery surrounds rejection of Mikkanen judicial nomination
On Feb. 2, President Barack Obama nominated Arvo Mikkanen to become a federal judge in Tulsa. On Saturday, the U.S. Senate sent the nomination back to the president. In between, we heard little to nothing from the men most responsible for the nomination getting spiked.
Oklahoma Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, opposed Mikkanen's nomination from the outset. The support of homestate senators is crucial to the process, and Inhofe and Coburn never got behind Mikkanen.
The mystery is why. Coburn said Mikkanen was unacceptable, but didn't offer more than that. At one point Inhofe told the Tulsa World he was uncomfortable with Mikkanen's background, but didn't elaborate. Both senators did complain that they weren't given the usual courtesy of being consulted about Mikkanen's nomination before it was announced.
Mikkanen, of Norman, has spent 16 years as an assistant U.S. attorney in Oklahoma City. The American Bar Association committee that considered his nomination unanimously deemed him qualified to be a federal judge. A member of the Kiowa Tribe, Mikkanen is well versed in Indian-related legal issues.