It starts with an editorial in today’s New York Times:
When President Obama nominated former Senator Tom Daschle to be his secretary of health and human services, it seemed to be a good choice. Mr. Daschle, as the co-author of a book on health care reform, knew a lot about one of the presidentâ€™s signature issues. As a former Senate majority leader, he also knew a lot about guiding controversial bills through Congress, where he remains liked and respected by former colleagues.
Unfortunately, new facts have come to light â€” involving his failure to pay substantial taxes that were owed and his sizable income from health-related companies while he worked in the private sector â€” that call into question his suitability for the job. We believe that Mr. Daschle ought to step aside and let the president choose a less-blemished successor.
Mr. Daschle is one oversight case too many. The American tax system depends heavily on voluntary compliance. It would send a terrible message to the public if we ignore the failure of yet another high-level nominee to comply with the tax laws.
And the tax problems for Obama’s nominees don’t end with Tom Daschle either:
WASHINGTON (AP) – Nancy Killefer, who failed for a year and a half to pay employment taxes on household help, has withdrawn her candidacy to be the first chief performance officer for the federal government, the White House said Tuesday.
Killefer was the second major Obama administration nominee to withdraw and the third to have tax problems complicate their nomination after President Barack Obama announced their selection.
The White House said Obama had accepted Killefer’s decision and that the 55-year-old executive with consulting giant McKinsey & Co., would explain her reasons for pulling out later Tuesday.
When her selection was announced by Obama on Jan. 7, The Associated Press disclosed that in 2005 the District of Columbia government had filed a $946.69 tax lien on her home for failure to pay unemployment compensation tax on household help.
One can make an intellectual case that Killefer’s oversight was minuscule and shouldn’t have prevented her from taking her position, but this is politics.
Usually, you only get one free pass and, when it came to nominees with tax problems Obama got that free pass with Timothy Geithner.
That’s why Killefer withdrew and why, I suspect, Daschle won’t be far behind.
Cross-posted at Below The Beltway