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How Killefer Hurts Daschle



President Obama's choice for government performance officer Nancy Killefer withdrew her name from consideration, possibly causing problems for HHS nominee Tom Daschle. (Linda Davidson / staff/ The Washington Post)

UPDATE 12:48 p.m.: Tom Daschle has withdrawn from consideration as the Health and Human Services Secretary designate, citing his desire not to be a distraction to the president.

Original Post

The decision of Nancy Killefer to withdraw her name from consideration as President Obama's chief performance officer due to tax questions has the potential to further complicate former Sen. Tom Daschle's (S.D.) already rocky confirmation process as secretary of the Health and Human Service Department.

In a letter of resignation released by the White House, Killefer wrote: "I have also come to realize in the current environment that my personal tax issue of D.C. Unemployment tax could be used to create exactly the kind of distraction and delay those duties must avoid."

Killefer is the the third Obama pick to face tax questions; Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was forced to apologize for not paying $34,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes but ultimately was confirmed while Daschle continues to fight for his political life amid revelations that he had failed to pay more than $140,000 in back taxes.

As we wrote this morning, Daschle faces major problems -- the optics of having not paid taxes on a car and driver provided by a wealthy donor are TERRIBLE -- but will likely be confirmed barring any other revelations.

Killefer's resignation could be those "other" revelations.

While the Killefer resignation is obviously not directly connected to Daschle, it certainly will have an effect on the political environment in which the former South Dakota senator finds himself battling for his nomination.

As any reporter knows, three related events amount to a storyline -- meaning that Obama and his senior aides are now certain to face a barrage of questions (starting with today's press briefing) on whether the president has a problem with his vetting process for top Cabinet picks. Obama's interviews this afternoon with the top anchors for the major networks will now almost certainly lead off with questions about Killefer, Geithner and Daschle.

Obviously, that is not the narrative the Obama White House wants dominating the news coverage as it tries to sell the economic stimulus plan to a somewhat skeptical Senate.

All of that spells trouble for Daschle -- as does the continued drumbeat on the story, which was kept up this morning by two developments.

The first: a New York Times editorial calling for Daschle to step aside.

"Mr. Daschle is another in a long line of politicians who move cozily between government and industry," reads the editorial. "We don't know that his industry ties would influence his judgments on health issues, but they could potentially throw a cloud over health care reform. Mr. Daschle could clear the atmosphere by withdrawing his name."

The second is an old Daschle campaign ad circulating among the Washington chattering class this morning that -- irony of ironies -- shows Daschle driving around in a beat-up Pontiac (and driving by a chauffeured limousine).

In politics, the context in which any given event happens and the way in which said event is perceived are absolutely critical when analyzing the outcome. Until this morning, Daschle looked like he would make it through the nomination fight -- battered but confirmed. The Killefer revelations badly cloud Daschle's prospects and make the next 24 to 48 hours even more critical.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 3, 2009; 11:05 AM ET
Categories:  The Cabinet , White House  
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Next: Twittering the Briefing: Managing the Tax Crisis

Comments

"We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes ..."
--Leona Helmsley

Posted by: ypcchiu | February 3, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

" Thus far he has appointed those that pay their taxes and those that don’t.

Posted by: leapin | February 3, 2009 3:43 PM |"

Name one person in Obama's cabinet that has not paid their taxes, bet you can't.

Posted by: JRM2 | February 3, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

At least the President is keeping his promise to have a bipartisan administration. Thus far he has appointed those that pay their taxes and those that don’t.

Posted by: leapin | February 3, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

"Your comment leads me to believe that it is not ok for the republicans to try to get the non-stimulus items out of the stimulus package. I ask you, how does spending millions of dollars for smoking cessation stimulate the economy? How does spending millions of dollars for a tax break for Hollywood film makers stimulate the economy? How does spending millions of dollars to get new furniture for a government office stimulate the economy? How does... maybe you should research some items in the current stimulus package that the democrats have been trying to force the republicans to support."

Its fine for the Republicans to try and get these items out. In fact, Obama did make some concessions to the Republicans. However, we are talking about relatively miniscule amounts of money when it comes to Republican complaints. It's fine to complain about those things. It's fine to get them removed. Is it fine for a party-wide boycott of the bill? I'm not so sure about that.

If they are going to continue with this behavior, then you can't really expect for them to take too much credit if things start to turn around.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 3, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

smoking cessation and STD parts of HR1 have been removed in the House.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 3, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"2. There is a long history of Presidential nominations being torpedoed by tax problems. Isn't a thorough audit of prior tax years number two on the vetting list after a criminal background check for felony convictions?"

Yes, but this requires a forthrightness on the part of the vettee. Daschle's withholding this information embarrassed him and hurt his party's cause. Yeah, now he's gone, but this hurt Obama at least a little.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 3, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA WILL APPOINT HOWARD DEAN!The stimulus will pass however, if the GOP Republicans try to block this they are dead. America is hurting now, the Republicans are STUPID for trying to block the stimulus. Democrats will gain all the approval ratings, credit and responsibility for this. Again Republicans are STUPID for trying to block this, it will hurt them dearly come election 2010.

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014
-------------------------
Your comment leads me to believe that it is not ok for the republicans to try to get the non-stimulus items out of the stimulus package. I ask you, how does spending millions of dollars for smoking cessation stimulate the economy? How does spending millions of dollars for a tax break for Hollywood film makers stimulate the economy? How does spending millions of dollars to get new furniture for a government office stimulate the economy? How does... maybe you should research some items in the current stimulus package that the democrats have been trying to force the republicans to support.

Posted by: mafox1 | February 3, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I concur with the "rotation of the crop" theory of one reader and not with the gender specific of another here. Bottom line is what's good for the goose should be good for the gander, big or small, its all the same....pay up, pay on time or pay the consequences - just like the rest of us! I don't like penalties and interest on top of extensions and back taxes anymore than the next guy but you better be charging them accross the board. Don't make me file a class action suit against the IRS for unfair trade practices or whatever the heck we might call it. Sick to death of the double standards.

Posted by: domino547 | February 3, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

The lesson here for all the budding policy wonks/government weenies; whether you are young democrats, republicans, independents, or some other other political persuasion--for heaven sakes, pay your damn taxes!

Our country is in the worst financial/economic crisis in 80 years; yet our President can't complete his cabinet because several of his appointees didn't pay their taxes.

Utterly unethical.

Utterly unacceptable.

Posted by: txgall | February 3, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA WILL APPOINT HOWARD DEAN!The stimulus will pass however, if the GOP Republicans try to block this they are dead. America is hurting now, the Republicans are STUPID for trying to block the stimulus. Democrats will gain all the approval ratings, credit and responsibility for this. Again Republicans are STUPID for trying to block this, it will hurt them dearly come election 2010.

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | February 3, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

1. Is it too much to ask that people actually pay their taxes?

2. There is a long history of Presidential nominations being torpedoed by tax problems. Isn't a thorough audit of prior tax years number two on the vetting list after a criminal background check for felony convictions?

Posted by: caribis | February 3, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

darn it to all get out........

I really really liked Tom Daschle.
But what can you say.

Gives a bit of a taste of what it is like in the "working class America" ball park with background checks and the like, based upon the USA Patriot Act.

HEY TOM.....WE CAN'T FIND A JOB EITHER!!!

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 3, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

It's looking less Lincolnesque and more Carteresque all the time. Icarus is falling back to earth.

Posted by: kenpasadena | February 3, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Howard Dean will take the HHS gig, which would be great.

Posted by: Bondosan | February 3, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1 -

About 1 minute of redoing the lyric. All credit goes to PFloyd and BHO.

Posted by: leapin | February 3, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Ridiculous. I'm not excusing Tom Daschle - and frankly am glad he withdrew, at least so we can move on - but Nancy Killefer's debt was *less than $1000*. This is what we've come to? Carping over $248?

This reminds of the Sarah Palin/Saks "scandal" - she bought some clothes. Let's talk about some sh*t that matters.

Posted by: kszimmerman | February 3, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

And how exactly did Killefer Hurts Daschle?

Talking about blaming women.

The only one who hurt Daschle is Daschle. PERIOD.

He is crook. Maybe what The Fix is telling us is that it don't matter if you are a crook as long as you are not caught or someone does the right thing. Doing the right thing - stepping down - is not approved by The Fix.

Posted by: cintronlourdes | February 3, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Come on, folks, we are not that naive. This is not a partisan issue so stop acting like it is one. My Father had a comedic saying: "It isn't wrong...until you get caught." Sad to say, but this may apply to many sitting in the U.S. Congress.

Fact of the matter is this: whether many politicians are Democrat or Republican, they have still, at one time or another, seated themselves within the halls of power and tasted the sweet nectar of privilege. Power and Privilege are addictive and many will do ANYTHING to maintain that style of life once they have had it....especially in such a consumerist and materialistic nation as the one we live in (or should I say, more accurately, "as consumerist and materialistic a nation as we have become").

These adults had to know that anything they did would come out when they accepted the nominations to these positions. No one who has lived a life on this planet is blameless; we all have skeletons in our closets. Large or small, they still exist. That said, the nature of the nominees' transgressions in a time of economic unrest, in MY mind, underscores something I have said about our system of government in recent years...

We need more statesmen. In this category, I do NOT mean reporters, pundits, or anyone with a political agenda in mind. I mean STATESMEN...people who give a damn about causes affecting the nation (and in some cases, the world) and who are taking aim to make change happen without endorsements from Capitol Hill or private industry.

It is possible that what we need to do in this country is to only allow our leaders (Senators, Congresspeople, Representatives) to only remain seated for a finite time in office. If only to keep some fresh voices and ideas running through the lifeblood of the american people. The privilege engendered by so many who have remained in office for too long (as well as the Pattern of privilege perpetuated by same) seems to be a big part of the problem.

At the very least, a "rotation of the crops" might keep some of the politicians honest...

Posted by: graphixgeek | February 3, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

leapin, while the content of your post leaves something to be desired, I applaud your efforts to parody with the Floyd. Is it your original work, or cut 'n paste?

Posted by: bsimon1 | February 3, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Welcome my son, welcome to the Chicago machine.
Where have you been? its alright we know where youve been.
Youve been in Chicago, filling in time, provided with toys and
scouting for good ole Clinton boys.
You bought an election to punish all,
And you liked the Harvard school, and you know you're nobodys fool,
So welcome to the Chicago machine.

Welcome my son, welcome to the Chicago machine.
What did you dream? its alright you had the audacity to dream,
You dreamed of a big star, you play a mean b-ball,
You ate in the steak bar. You love to drink the V-martini that's all
So welcome to the Chicago machine.

Posted by: leapin | February 3, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

Posted by: Itzajob | February 3, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

BB, sad to say, I was one of the first 50,000 donors, according to the endless emails I got and am still getting.

Everyone thought I was crazy, especially the Clinton people.

To answer your question, who is actually honest? I am no Diogenes. There are plenty of honest politicians, but they are unelectable. My favorite out here in OR is Peter DeFazio.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 3, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Corrected spelling:

Glad to see that Daschle has removed himself from consideration. Obama needs to keep his Administration as clean and non-corrupt as possible, especially if he's going to provide any moral guidance to the never-ending Wall Street greed.

People are fed up with the 'do as I say and not as I do' credo. We had enough of that under W and don't need this to continue under Obama..

Posted by: RickJ | February 3, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see that Daschle has removed himself from consideration. Obama needs to keep his Administration as clean and non-corrupt as possible, especiall if he's going to provide amy moral guidance to the never-ending Wall Street greed.

People are fed up with the 'do as I say and not as I do' credo. We had enough of that under W and don't need this to continue under Obama....

Posted by: RickJ | February 3, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Shrink2 - Your post isn't credible. Also, exactly who would you choose instead?

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 3, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

C'mon folks. The only thing this tells me is that along with everything else that we nned to do, our tax code needs to be simplified. I believe that most decent Americans intend to pay their taxes but it's very easy to make mistakes or to not understand exactly what the requirements are. It's unfair to hold these public servants to uber-judgmental standards.

Posted by: dcbny | February 3, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Daschle has asked that his name be withdrawn! Good! Now we need to ask how on earth Geithner managed to squirm through. Oh well, using him as an example, no one need pay taxes ay longer. So much for "ethical government". I am coming to believe that all free traitors are corrupt scum.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 3, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I gave my $2300 to defeat the Clintons and $2300 more to defeat McSame/Palin.

Obama lied to me and millions of others.

We bought this election for this political unknown. We did it so that we would not have to sere the Cliontons and the Republicans do what Obama is now doing.

We elected him not out of hope but out of ANGER.

He will pay us back for this. He needs us a lot more than he needs Tom Daschle and the rest of his crooked friends. I'd be glad to work to destroy him next. Why?

We need honest in government more than any other quality.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 3, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Motto of the loony-left liberal d-crats: "You pay taxes so we don't have to."

It's bad enough that the d-crats waste trillions of taxpayer money on a harmful pork-filled social-welfare "stimulus", endless bailouts and other garbage. It adds insult to injury to have them hand over responsible finance positions to TAX CRIMINALS.

PARTIAL LIST OF LOONY-LEFT LIBERAL D-CRAT TAX CHEATS:

Tim Geithner, hussein's Secretary of Treasury and head of IRS - this TAX CHEAT failed to pay $34,000 in federal taxes plus thousands more in state taxes.

Charlie Rangle, Chairman, House Ways and Means Committee - this TAX CHEAT failed to pay $10,000 in federal taxes plus thousands more in state taxes. Yet, botox pelosi keeps him in charge of the Tax Panel!

Caroline "You Know" Kennedy, Loony-Left Princess - failed to disclose the enormous amount of her TAX CHEATING on her $400 MILLION inherited fortune.

Keith Olbermann, The Most Biased Political Commentator on The Most Biased Loony-Left Liberal Cable Network - so far his warrants and penalties for TAX CHEATING in California and New York amount to more than $100,000.

Tom Daschle - hussein's candidate for HHS secretary - this TAX CHEAT failed to pay $128,000 in federal taxes, plus tens of thousands more in state taxes. Recent evidence indicates he has cheated on more items. In addition, he has received over $220,000 from the same healthcare groups he would deal with as HHS secretary.

Nancy Killefer - hussein's candidate for chief performance officer - this TAX CHEAT has a tax lien on her home filed by the D.C. government over nonpayment of employment taxes on household help.

In JUST TWO WEEKS, the hussein regime has become the most TAX CORRUPT GOVERNMENT IN HISTORY.

D-crats love to tax you to death, then tax your death. But they hate to pay taxes, and they'll cheat the government out of every penny they can.

Posted by: LoonyLeft | February 3, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

How come Tim the Tax Cheat Geithner and Tom the Lobbyist (along with his Super Lobbyist wife, Linda Daschle) Daschle didn't have the sense of begging off the nomination, or withdrawing it, as Nancy Killefer seems to have done?

I guess "Boys Will be Boys", and the girls will have to take a back seat.

Posted by: pKrishna43 | February 3, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"I have also come to realize in the current environment that my personal tax issue of D.C. Unemployment tax could be used to create exactly the kind of distraction and delay those duties must avoid."

Translation: "I apologize for getting caught."

Like Daschle, its not the taxes; its the arrogance.

Posted by: hisroc | February 3, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse


we are already policing the world.
we cannot save it without help.
Can you say "the United Nations"?

I think it is great the President Obama called the network head honchos. He has a way of squashing stories as soon as they hit the press. Or addressing them.
I like that.

Who cares about Killefer's withdrawal and how it "reflects on Daschle". Who cares about the New York Times.

Look how many times WE THE PEOPLE have voted into office, elected officials that have not lived up to our expectations.
ummm, let's see....Mark Foley. Tom Delay. Bill Frist. John Edwards.
Illinois Gov Blago
Arizona Gov Fife Symington and Evan Mecham.
OH, i forgot.....
also the ones with extracurricular activities in the Oval Office.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 3, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that does it for Daschle. With this lady pulling herself out over NOTHING, Daschle's $100K+ looks outrageous.

Obama, get someone else for the HHS job and FIRE whoever is running the vetting team.

Posted by: hoos3014 | February 3, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

It is past time for Daschle to be removed from consideration for the post. The President needs to wake up to the political reality that granting a pass to Daschle seriously undermines the President's claims of accountability, among other things.

Posted by: bsimon1 | February 3, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Losing the Times was a critical blow to Daschle. Like they said, he should gracefully bow out now and save Obama further embarrassment. What's he want the job for anyway? He's already made millions in the private sector and can keep doing so if he wants.

Posted by: hairguy01 | February 3, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I would like to encourage Congress to increase funding for fighting global poverty. The Borgen Project (www.borgenproject.org) has some great facts and ideas to help global poverty.
$30 billion to eliminate global poverty.
$522 billion on the U.S. defense budget.
There are 800 million people that go to sleep hungry every day, 300 million are children.

Posted by: cougar_gal06 | February 3, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Three strikes and you're out! After this one, Obama has no choice but to dump Daschle, if he intends to keep pushing his change and ethics agenda. Otherwise, he's just more of the same old Washington politics as usual.

Posted by: thrh | February 3, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

three people obama picked who have tax questions. wow! doesn't this guy do any back ground checks first? but of course this should be of no suprise, this man was elected despite his shady assocation's and shady dealing's. It just surprises me that the majority of the american people were so foolish to have voted for such a man of bad character.

Posted by: cwdfreedom | February 3, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

The stimulus will pass however, if the GOP Republicans try to block this they are dead. America is hurting now, the Republicans are STUPID for trying to block the stimulus. Democrats will gain all the approval ratings, credit and responsibility for this. Again Republicans are STUPID for trying to block this, it will hurt them dearly come election 2010.

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | February 3, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

There is a wicked double standard here. One for Male Washington insiders who have thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes and one for Women who have marginal tax issues over nannies and house cleaning help. One has a $950 issue and the other $140,000? This is systemic sexism and the Obama crew should be ashamed of themselves. This is not Change we can believe in!! As a single Dad I know how difficult keeping a house tidy and the kids in activities and managing after school care. Not all of us can have a house big enough for our in laws to move in and take care of the kids. We need to stand behind parents and working Moms. Losing Nancy sends the wrong signal.

Posted by: TallandUrbane | February 3, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

It would be a good time for Daschle to withdraw. I remember when Austin's own Adm Bob Inman, a great American, was denied a Cab post for failing to report or pay payroll taxes on a domestic servant.

If Daschle does not withdraw, and considering that Geithner was confirmed, the Killefer matter will set the standard:

Don't pay taxes related to a domestic servant and you cannot be in the Cabinet.
Otherwise, anything goes.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 3, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Losing Nancy would be a major setback because she can’t be “replaced!!” She is scary BRILLIENT & has unparalleled insight & experience in organizing for effectiveness. With her as the CPO, we would have had our best opportunity in my lifetime to squeeze the inefficiencies out of government & optimize the performance of government services. If all this is over HER $900 tax lien, the Obama folks need to have their heads examined because she is singularly more valuable that Daschle & Gertner combined!

Posted by: ep_Patriot_Vet | February 3, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I guess these are the sort of problems you encounter when all your appointees are the out-of-touch wealthy and don't pay taxes for their illegal immigrant maids and landscapers.

No wonder the Dems want to keep the borders wide open... slave labor is hard to find!

Posted by: millionea7 | February 3, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know a good website to track all of Obama's cabinet, subcabinet and other key appointments?

Paul Light published a list of Executive Branch appointments early in the last Administration but doesn't seem to be doing that for the Obama Administration.

Posted by: redskinsfan2009 | February 3, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

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