Chaos has ensued in the Obama administration as two nominees, Tom Daschle for HHS Secretary and Nancy Killefer for Chief Performance Officer, have been forced to withdraw themselves from consideration because of tax problems.
The score for the two week old Obama administration is so far three nominees, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who have been found to have serious tax violations and three nominees, including nominee for Commerce Secretary Governor Bill Richardson, who have been forced to withdraw their nominations. Richardson is under investigation for how New Mexico state contracts were awarded to political supporters. Geithner was confirmed in his position as Treasury Secretary despite having failed to pay $34,000 in back taxes until he was under consideration for a cabinet post.
Nancy Killefer had a lien for $946.69 on her home for having failed to pay unemployment compensation tax for her household help. According to the story on Breitbart.com, “That sum included $298 in unpaid taxes, $48.69 in interest and $600 in penalties. The lien was filed March 7, 2005, but Killefer didn’t get the lien extinguished for almost five months, not until July 29.” Nancy Killefer had been chosen to a new post that was suppose to encourage government departments and agencies to better their performance.
The big surprise, though, was the withdraw of former Senator Tom Daschle for consideration as Secretary of Health and Human Services. As previously reported, Tom Daschle had found himself in arrears for over $140,000 in back taxes on the use of a car and driver and other income. It was thought that Daschle’s personal ties to Barack Obama and his status as a former Senator would still see him through to confirmation. But things began to change very quickly when the New York Times called for him to step aside on its editorial page. Things rapidly deteriorated from there and Tom Daschle, not wanting to be a “distraction,” withdrew himself from consideration.
Rumor has it that former Vermont Governor and current DNC Chair Howard Dean might now be under consideration for HHS Secretary. Dean is a former physician and his opinions on nationalized health care coincide with Barack Obama’s. On the other hand, Obama and Dean have had issues in the past. Howard Dean also has a mercurial personality (remember the screaming incident that helped to sink his Presidential aspirations in 2004) that, while entertaining, is not really appropriate for a cabinet secretary.
Of course all of this begs the question. What is the matter with the Obama administration’s vetting process? The number of ethically challenged nominees who have been confirmed (Holder for Attorney General and Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State are examples) are only exceeded by those who have had to withdraw. This continuing chaos does not cause optimism for the smooth running of the federal government for the next four years.
Sources: Official: Performance czar withdraws candidacy, Michael J. Sniffen and Lis Sidoti, AP, February 3rd, 2009
Breaking: Daschle drops out, Allahpundit, Hotair.Com, February 3rd, 2009
The Travails of Tom Daschle, New York Times, February 2nd, 2009
Tom Daschle Sorry for Tax “Errors”, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, February 2nd, 2009
Obama, Tax Evasion, and Double Standards, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, January 31st, 2009