Editorial: Solis Failure to Disclose Lobbying Demands Full-scale Criminal Investigation
The Obama Administration suffered yet another blow yesterday with more Cabinet nominee tax troubles. This time it comes from Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis, whose husband just paid $6,400 in tax liens against his business. They had been outstanding for 16 years. They were only paid two days ago. And that's just the beginning of her very serious problems.
Much like Tim Geithner and Tom Daschle, who both paid their taxes only when considered for the posts of Treasury Secretary and Health and Human Services Secretary, respectively, Ms. Solis' husband's troubles greatly endanger her nomination and weaken the appearance of propriety within the Administration.
According to the statement issued by the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, "Today's executive session [considering Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis] was postponed to allow members additional time to review the documentation submitted in support of Representative Solis's nomination to serve in the important position of Labor Secretary.” That's one way of putting it.
Another way would be that in light of this embarrassment, the committee ought to have delayed proceedings so that Ms. Solis has an opportunity to gracefully exit the scene and not further weaken her prospective boss. Although the Obama Administration is publicly standing behind Ms. Solis, it is unclear how much media and political scrutiny of her husband's business she will endure before stepping aside. And then there is the even more serious question of where she should go when she does step aside.
Instead, the committee has reopened the door to her nomination. Which is too bad, really. But they should pause to consider her very recent misdealings, and not send her to floor for a vote.
In addition to being a party to tax evasion, Ms. Solis also has been accused of violating House Ethics Rules. If true it would rightly disqualify her from serving. According to the Weekly Standard's Hans A. von Spakovsky, Solis was “involved with a private organization that was lobbying her fellow legislators on a bill that she has cosponsored, [and] she apparently kept her involvement secret and failed to reveal a clear conflict of interest.” At issue was her serving as a board member, specifically, Treasurer, for the American Rights at Work organization.
The gravity of Ms. Solis' failure to disclose this involvement to the House as required by law cannot be overstated. By doing so, she initially filed a false financial disclosure form. And if she did so deliberately, she actually committed a federal crime, punishable by law. Her later amendment to the Clerk of the House of Representatives actually all the more suspicious because it came after her nomination by President Obama to Labor Secretary.
It should be noted that former Congressman George Hansen (R-ID) was sent to jail for a similar violation. And Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) will soon suffer the same fate. If found guilty, Ms. Solis should face the same “equal justice under law.”
Ultimately, the botched nomination process by President Barack Obama very much weakens his White House. Now, his plans to raise taxes will be that much more magnified. The stench of Washington's waste of tax dollars will come under all the greater scrutiny. His claims to keep lobbyists out of positions of power are now laughable. And it all comes at a time when his mandate to govern is threatened with evaporation should his trillion dollar spending bill—otherwise known as the “stimulus”—fails as the economy continues to weaken.
Ms. Solis ought to do the honorable thing and withdraw her nomination. And she should then face a full-fledged inquiry into possible criminality for failure to disclose her lobbying as required by federal law.
For his part, the President needs to begin seriously vetting his Cabinet nominees before asking Americans to continuing taking him at his word and hoping for the best.