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Thursday, June 18, 2009
Senate Confirms N.M. Native
By Sean Olson
Journal Staff Writer
New Mexico native Hilary Tompkins won U.S. Senate confirmation Wednesday for the top legal position in the Department of Interior.
Tompkins, a Navajo, formerly served as Gov. Bill Richardson's chief counsel in Santa Fe and has worked in the Navajo Tribal Courts, for the state of New Mexico and for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Tompkins' confirmation had been temporarily held up by an Oklahoma senator. Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican, said he was concerned whether Tompkins would uphold new legislation prohibiting the Interior Department from banning firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges in states that allow concealed weapons.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who chaired Tompkins' confirmation hearing in April, said in a statement late Wednesday that the procedural holds from Republicans had gone on too long.
"I'm very pleased Hilary Tompkins can finally get to work," Bingaman said. "I know she will be terrific in this key position."
The Department of Interior solicitor position will have Tompkins managing legal issues pertaining to public lands, water and mineral management, as well as Indian affairs.
Tompkins was born in the Ramah Chapter on the eastern side of the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico.