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Acosta seems to be a professional sex-trafficking cover-up specialist

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Acosta seems to be a professional sex-trafficking cover-up specialist

by digby

You have to wonder why this one man is so determined to let human traffickers get away with it.

On Jan. 2, 2018, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta released a statement commemorating the beginning of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, recommitting his department’s mission to “ending practices that harm individuals, families, and communities.”

“We must act to end exploitation and abusive labor practices at home and abroad,” the statement said.

Absent from that statement was the fact he had already tried to cut a program by nearly 80 percent inside the Department of Labor dedicated to combating human trafficking, along with child and forced labor, internationally. And two months later, he would return to Congress to advocate for a second budget to cut the program just as deeply.

His proposal came under fire from a congresswoman who noted a chapter from Acosta’s past: As U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Florida, Acosta granted a sweetheart deal that allowed convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein to plead to one count of prostitution and serve out 13 months of an 18-month sentence prison sentence (in which he was allowed to leave jail to go to the office most days) despite allegations he molested and trafficked countless underage girls.

Epstein was arrested in New York this week under a new set of charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy, bringing Acosta’s actions a decade ago and his record as labor secretary under new scrutiny.

The cut to the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB)’s budget in the 2020 budget —reducing the funding level to $18.5 million, attracted the attention of Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), who asked Acosta about the department’s responsibilities as they related to human trafficking during a hearing about his department’s funding request in April 2019.

“The problem is a large one,” Acosta told Clark. “The Department of Labor recently issued a report and it actually detailed 1,700 recommendations that could be looked at around the world to address this.”

“That is excellent,” Clark responded, with a smile. “And I know that there are hundreds of thousands of adults and children who are victims of sex and labor trafficking in the U.S. Glad you are looking at it, glad you’ve detailed a comprehensive strategy.”

Her smile disappeared.

“But you’ve also proposed a budget cut, almost 80 percent, 79 percent to ILAB where this work is done, bringing its budget from $68 million to just $18.5 million,” she said. “I’m sure you’ve come prepared to justify this cut to us, but it doesn’t go unnoticed that this isn’t the first time that you’ve ignored human trafficking.”

“How can we expect you, the Labor Secretary, to fight for American workers if you couldn’t even fight for these girls?” she asked, as Acosta initially stared at her blankly.

Knowing that the Epstein issue had come up during his confirmation battle, you’d think he would have been a little bit more careful not to open himself up to this criticism. They all seem to believe they can get away with anything.

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