Over the past month, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the tax problems of Obama’s executive nominations—and their inevitable withdrawals. In the discussions online, many have questioned Obama’s choices, and potential decision-making skills. However, if you look at the history of executive nominations, you will see that Barack Obama was not the first to President to choose candidates with tax problems for his cabinet.
1. Zoe Baird
Former President Bill Clinton's first nominee for Attorney General withdrew her name for the position after it came in to the light that she had been evading taxes. She had been employing a Peruvian couple, who were illegal immigrants, to clean her house and provide nanny services. However, Baird was not paying the required social security and employment taxes for the couple, and broke federal law by hiring undocumented workers.
2. Kimba Wood
A mere two weeks after Baird withdrew her name for the nomination, her new replacement (Kimba Wood) withdrew her name as well. Wood had similar problems surrounding taxes and undocumented workers, and the term "nanny gate" began to spread. As it turned out many high-ranking officials had been taking advantage of illegal immigrants for domestic services for several years.
3. Linda Chavez
President Bush's 2001 pick for labor secretary was forced to withdraw due to tax evasion and an illegal worker in her home as well. Chavez had been employing a Guatemalan woman for two years and had paid only paid her a total of around $1,500. In addition to breaking tax laws, Chavez had also broken numerous employment and immigration laws.
4. Bernard Kerik
As a highly respected former police commissioner, Bernard Kerik was chosen as Bush’s 2004 nominee for homeland security secretary. Unfortunately, Kerik had gone years without paying the proper employment and social security taxes on his nanny and housekeeper.
5. Shirley Chater
Ironically chosen as Clinton’s nominee as head of the Social Security Administration, Chater had failed to pay social security taxes on a part-time babysitter for a decade or so before her nomination. However, before her nomination, Chater paid the back taxes, and saved herself from having to withdrawal.
6. Charles Ruff
Ruff did not make it long as Clinton’s nominee for deputy attorney general, as it quickly was discovered that he had failed to pay social security taxes on a woman he employed to clean his house for eight consecutive years.
7. Stephen Breyer
Nominated for the Supreme Court in 1994, Breyer took the smart route and came clean about his tax evasion in order to avoid being dropped for consideration. Like Chater, he had failed to pay social security taxes on a woman performing domestic services for him, but paid the back taxes prior to his nomination.
8. Bobby Ray Inman
Clinton’s 1994 nominee for defense secretary, Bobby Inman, had no choice but to withdraw as he too had failed to pay social security taxes on a housekeeper.
9. Ron Brown
Clinton’s commerce secretary was also under the media light for failing to pay social security taxes. Like many before him, Brown was under the impression that he did not have to pay taxes on employees that only worked so few hours.
10. Michael Carns
Last on my list is Michael Carns who was a former Air Force general chosen by Clinton in 1995 to head the central intelligence agency. Unfortunately, he too had evaded social security taxes on a household employee, and even had a pending lawsuit failure to pay a former employee.