Yet another person President Obama wants to place in a top government office is having tax troubles. Ron Kirk, Obama’s choice to be the U.S. trade representative, owes some ten-thousand dollars in back taxes. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s not going to pass judgment on Kirk until he goes before the Senate Finance Committee.
Grassley says, "I think we have to look at how this could happen with a president that bragged about a vetting process that was going to be faster and better and bring about a more ethical administration than any other president." Grassley, a Republican, says the means by which Obama administration officials are screening potential nominees clearly still needs tweaking.
"I’m not talking about the good intentions of my president on that point," Grassley says, "because I think it was well-intentioned but it sure wasn’t administered the way it was intended." Kirk, a lawyer and the former mayor of Dallas, Texas, has agreed to pay the back taxes he owes. This marks the fourth high-profile candidate Obama has named to an upper-tier post who’s been found owing a significant amount of money to the I-R-S. Grassley says he hopes the administration does a better job of screening its next round of candidates.
"They ought to be very, very careful on prospects that they leave by the statements they make and if they make statements, to make sure that they perform according to those statements," Grassley says, laughing. "I do believe that they’re probably going to be very, very careful with future nominees." One of the tax-troubled earlier nominees, Tim Geithner, was confirmed as U-S Treasury Secretary, though he had to pay some $34,000 in taxes and interest.
Two other administration candidates bowed out — Nancy Killefer and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Grassley says the vetting process, which was much-touted by Obama, evidently needs to probe deeper. Grassley says, "Quite frankly, there’s no reason for my committee and my staff to have to point this stuff out to the administration because we’ve found things that they haven’t found." Kirk is scheduled to testify next Monday.