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Unprecedented level of tax evasion among Obama appointees

By Rachel Alexander
web posted March 16, 2009

One of the most interesting phenomenons of the Obama administration so far is the difficulty he has had finding honest people to fill top-level positions. Every few days since he has been in office, another potential cabinet appointee is in the news for tax evasion or other financial corruption.

Let's rehash the list so far.

Bill RichardsonNew Mexico Democratic Governor Bill Richardson, nominated for Commerce Department Secretary. He withdrew on January 4 after it emerged that he was the subject of a Grand Jury investigation for influence peddling, due to his awarding of a $1.5 million state contract to political contributors.

Former South Dakota Democratic Senator Tom Daschle, nominated for Health and Human Services Secretary. He withdrew on February 3, admitting that he had failed to pay more than $100,000 in taxes on a car and driver provided by a friend and on consulting fees after he left the Senate.

Nancy Killefer, former Assistant Secretary for Management and Chief Financial Officer of the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration, nominated for Deputy Director at the Office of Management and Budget and Chief Performance Officer. Obama said in announcing her nomination, "We can no longer afford to sustain the old ways when we know there are new and more efficient ways of getting the job done." Killefer withdrew on February 3 because of a lien against her home for failure to pay unemployment tax for household help. Ironic that she can afford household help - something most of us Americans can't - and then doesn't pay the taxes her party trumpets. Certainly not anyone you want in charge of managing the public's money.

Hilda Solis, nominated for Labor Secretary, was confirmed on February 11 even though her husband had liens against his business going back 16 years. He paid the full $6,400 owed a day before her confirmation hearing. Wouldn't that be nice if the average American could pretend to have nothing to do with their spouse's finances?

New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, Obama's second nomination for Commerce Department secretary. Apparently the only Republican nominated to a high-level position by Obama, he withdrew on February 11 because of philosophical differences with the Obama administration over its advocacy of a massive stimulus plan. Judd had once called for elimination of the Department of Commerce. Judd was one of very few Obama nominees who withdrew due to legitimate reasons.

Timothy GeithnerTimothy Geithner, nominated and confirmed on February 24 for Treasury Secretary. Geithner failed to pay $34,000 in self-employment taxes while he worked at the International Monetary Fund from 2001 to 2004. Yet he was still confirmed because Democrats said his position was too important to be left unfilled any longer.

Kansas Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius was nominated on March 2 as Obama's second choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services. So far, no back tax problem has emerged, but she does have one of the most extreme partisan positions on abortion of any politician in the country; which may cause trouble with her confirmation.

Former Obama campaign worker Susan Tierney, the leading candidate for Deputy Secretary of Energy, dropped out on March 3 without citing a reason. Is she afraid to cite back taxes?

Jane Garvey, reportedly Obama's top choice for Deputy Secretary of Transportation, also dropped out on March 3, reportedly for financial reasons. Did those reasons include owing back taxes?

Former Washington Democratic Governor Gary Locke. Nominated on March 5, for Secretary of Commerce after Bill Richardson and Judd Gregg withdrew. So far he appears to be sailing through to confirmation, but Frontpage Mag points out he was involved in Chinagate with former Clinton Commerce employee John Huang. Huang wrote a $1,000 check to Locke and co-sponsored fundraising events that netted $30,000 in 1996 alone.

Annette Nazareth, who was to be nominated for Treasury Deputy Secretary, abruptly announced on March 5 she was stepping aside for "personal reasons."

Caroline Atkinson, nominated for Undersecretary of International Affairs, withdrew on March 5 as well. Did these two prospects withdraw because of failure to pay back taxes? "Personal reasons" sounds like someone wants to spend more time with their family, or something along those lines. If that was the case, why didn't the candidates indicate so? Because of the long list of nominees who withdrew for tax problems, their withdrawals are forever tainted with a cloud of suspicion.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Obama's first pick for Surgeon General, withdrew on March 5 without citing a reason. What were his secret reasons?

Former Dallas Democratic Mayor Ron Kirk, nominated for Trade Representative, failed to pay $10,000 in back taxes for speaking fees over three years. He faced Senate questioning on March 9 over it, but is expected to win confirmation. $2,600 of the back taxes was due to deducting $17,382 worth of basketball tickets; he was unable to provide proof of business purposes for those tickets. Most Americans can't afford $17,382 in baseball tickets, much less have a business to deduct the cost from. Kirk also took overly large deductions for a used TV he gave to charity, and inflated accounting and tax preparation fees. He has agreed to pay $9,975 in back taxes from 2005-2007.

The length of time it is taking to fill key Treasury posts during this economic crisis is "shameful," characterized by liberal former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker and economic advisor to Obama. Geithner has been Treasury Secretary for over five weeks and has yet to name a single top deputy or assistant secretary. Although Obama has pushed through appointments generally faster than previous presidents, other administrations weren't facing the economic crisis we are today. The delay in approving top Treasury positions is detrimental to the country.

There have been a few nominees who appeared to have withdrawn for legitimate reasons. But due to the large number of other nominees withdrawing for failure to pay back taxes, some will wonder if that was the real reason - which is an unfair stigma to put on the honest nominees who withdrew.

What we are seeing is the results of a generation that has grown up without strict morals. Years of 1960's "progressive morality" has spawned a generation of Baby Boomers who have grown up without church and Judeao-Christian morals, not knowing the difference between right and wrong. And it has affected the Democratic Party the most, since they have rejected Biblical morality in favor of secular humanism with its acceptance of all viewpoints, no matter how flawed. This has left them with few political candidates to choose from who have maintained moral requisites. At some point, it will lead to the downfall of the Democratic Party - unless society's morals progressively change with them. ESR

Rachel Alexander and her brother Andrew are co-Editors of Intellectual Conservative. Rachel practices law in Phoenix, Arizona and blogs for GOPUSA.com. She has been published in the American Spectator, Townhall.com, Fox News, and other publications.


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