Just a few hours after Nancy Killefer withdrew her candidacy to serve as Chief Performance Officer, we've learned that Tom Daschle has now withdrawn his nomination to head up the Department of Health and Human Services.
Daschle had neglected to pay over $140,000 in back taxes and interest, while Killefer failed to pay an unemployment compensation tax for her household help, resulting in a tax lien of $946 on her home. Killefer, who was also lined up to serve as the Deputy Director for Management at OMB, would have worked in a new position aimed at eliminating government waste and improving efficiency (you can read her resignation letter here).
And while it didn't sink his nomination, let's not forget that Timothy Geithner, Obama's pick for Treasury Secretary, had some tax problems of his own. Do Obama's nominees need a lesson in how to use Turbo Tax??
It should be noted that in Daschle's case, there were also concerns about conflicts of interest stemming from his work as a board member at the Mayo Clinic and as an adviser to a health care lobbying firm. When you consider the fact that Obama has been filling his administration with former lobbyists like William Lynn, this latest news only raises further questions about the President's commitment to restoring government integrity. In fact, his first two weeks in office have been riddled with a step forward followed by a giant leap backward on the ethics front. Sorry, but we're still not convinced by the argument that it's simply too hard to run an ethical government free of private interests and tax scandals.
-- Michael Smallberg