Alexander Acosta Biography

Alexander Acosta is a former attorney turned politician who served as the United States Secretary of Labor from 2017 to 2019. Prior to his nomination by President Donald Trump, he held various prominent positions, including Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice and United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Acosta, the son of Cuban immigrants, hails from Miami, Florida, and has an impressive educational background, having studied economics at Harvard College and earned his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School. Throughout his legal career, he specialized in employment and labor issues, gaining recognition for his involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein non-prosecution agreement case in 2008. However, Acosta faced significant criticism for his actions in the case and ultimately resigned as labor secretary in 2019.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Rene Alexander Acosta
  • Age: 54 Years, 54 Year Old Males
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Jan Elizabeth Acosta
  • Born Country: United States
  • U.S. State: Florida
  • Education: Harvard University

Childhood & Early Life

Rene Alexander Acosta was born on January 16, 1969, in Miami, Florida, the United States, to a family of Cuban immigrants. He is his parents’ only son. He attended the Gulliver Schools. He was a good student and was keen on pursuing higher education, a privilege not easily available to boys of his economic standing. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard College in 1990. He proceeded to receive a Juris Doctor degree cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1994. He became the first member of his family to graduate from college.

Career

In 1994, Alexander Acosta began his career as a law clerk to Samuel Alito, who was a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He quit this job in 1995 and took up a job in the office of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C. He specialized in employment and labor issues. He also taught classes on disability-based discrimination law, civil rights law, and employment law at the George Mason University School of Law.

Alexander Acosta served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice from December 2001 to December 2002. In December 2002, he became a member of the National Labor Relations Board. Until August 2003, he participated in or authored more than 125 opinions. In August 2003, he was made Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. In this role, he became known for increasing federal prosecutions against human trafficking. He became the first Hispanic person to serve as Assistant Attorney General.

He was made the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida in 2005. In this position, he successfully prosecuted the terrorism suspect José Padilla, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and the founders of the Cali Cartel. His office also targeted white-collar crime and prosecuted many bank-related cases. Alexander Acosta was also very particular about healthcare fraud prosecutions. Under his leadership, the office prosecuted hundreds of individuals, who were responsible for a total amount of over $2 billion in Medicare fraud.

He became the dean of Florida International University College of Law in 2009. He took steps to establish the Master of Studies in Law in banking compliance. He also made efforts to establish the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering at FIU Law. He was made the new chairman of US Century Bank in late December 2013. It is one of the largest Hispanic community banks in the country. The bank made its first year-end profit since the start of the Great Recession during his tenure.

In February 2017, President Donald Trump announced the nomination of Alexander Acosta to fill the position of Secretary of Labor. He was soon confirmed and sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence on 28 April 2017. He discussed the need for apprenticeship as a workforce development tool with President Trump, who in turn, signed Executive Order 13801 to establish the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. Acosta served as the chair and the task force held five public meetings. Based on the task force’s final report, the United States Department of Labor announced the creation of a new industry-recognized apprenticeship program system as a method of complementing the registered apprenticeship system. The site Apprenticeship.gov was announced as a “one-stop source for all things apprenticeship.”

Controversy and Resignation

Alexander Acosta’s tenure was also fraught with controversy and he was forced to resign as Labor Secretary in July 2019, in the wake of his role in the Jeffrey Epstein case.

Jeffrey Epstein Case

Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy and prominent hedge fund manager, was well-connected and had some highly influential connections, including Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. The Palm Beach Police Department received reports that Epstein had been involved in sexually-inappropriate behavior with a minor. The police began an investigation and found multiple photographs of young girls throughout the house. Two hidden cameras were also found. It was alleged that 12-year-old triplets were flown in from France so that they could be sexually exploited by Epstein.

The Palm Beach Chief of Police collaborated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents to identify more than 30 minors who alleged sexual abuse by Epstein. This resulted in a 53-page indictment in June 2007. Alexander Acosta was then the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. He agreed to a plea deal—a federal non-prosecution agreement—with Epstein to grant him immunity from all federal criminal charges. This agreement effectively shut down the ongoing FBI probe into Epstein’s alleged criminal sex activities. Since the agreement took place without consulting the victims, it was later ruled illegal for violating the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. Alexander Acosta faced heavy criticism for this agreement. He claimed that he was not directly involved in the agreement and faced undue pressure from Epstein’s powerful lawyers.

Epstein was arrested by the FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force in July 2019. There were sex trafficking charges against him, stemming from his activities that occurred between 2002 and 2005. The investigation led to a large amount of incriminating evidence. Acosta faced renewed criticism in the wake of this scandal and was pressurized to resign as Secretary of Labor.

Family & Personal Life

Alexander Acosta is married to Jan Elizabeth Acosta and has two children.

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