Just when you thought the tax problems for President Obama’s Cabinet nominees were finally over, another one surfaces. USA Today reports today that Labor Nominee Hilda Solis’ husband settled over $6,000 in tax liens yesterday. Tax liens that were 16 years old. As a result, today’s hearing of the Senate Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has been postponed to give Senators the time to review yet another tax problem.
Congresswoman Solis’ supporters, including the White House, are likely to say that this ‘honest mistake’ was her husband’s and not hers, and therefore should be inadmissible to her consideration. However, a deeper review of the facts should tell another story. Congresswoman Solis listed her husband’s auto repair business on her Financial Disclosure Forms she recently filled out, as well as bank accounts totaling between $250,000 and $500,000. To believe that Ms. Solis had never heard of these tax liens in sixteen years, while she profited from her husband’s auto repair business requires a certain suspension of belief. And to once again be faced with a wealthy nominee who fails to comply with the same IRS rules the rest of America must follow requires remarkable patience on behalf of the President.
However, this problem pales in comparison to her involvement with Americans Right to Work (ARW), which we highlighted on Tuesday where she may have violated multiple House ethics rules. It appears that while Hilda Solis served as a Board Member and Treasurer to the organization, they were lobbying Congress on bills Ms. Solis actually co-sponsored. One of those bills, the “Employee Free Choice Act”, is the card-check legislation that will eliminate the secret ballot in union elections, eliminating anonymous decisions by employees to decide whether to unionize.
On January 29, around the time her husband was ‘discovering’ his tax liens, Congresswoman Solis filed a letter with the House clerk detailing her involvement with ARW. This time, Solis says she “incorrectly answered” a question that directly asked if she was a member of any organizations like ARW. Apparently, she forgot that she was handling all of the finances and leadership of an organization that was pressing her colleagues to vote in favor of her own pro-union legislation. Another ‘honest mistake’.
The Ethics Manual of the House of Representatives is quite clear that Members should not “take an active role in lobbying Congress on behalf of a private organization since that would conflict with a Member’s general obligation to the public.” As of today, she is still listed as a Board Member on ARW’s website.
There is a dark cloud hanging over President Obama’s Cabinet nominations, and this cloud will only be lifted when he asks a simple question to each subsequent candidate: Have you paid your taxes and complied with the laws of the United States of America? The answer to this question would have saved him three, and now possibly four embarrassments this quickly into his first term.