Thursday, February 05, 2009

Solis Nomination Vote Delayed After Tax Issue Arises

By Holly Rosenkrantz

Feb. 5 (Bloomberg)
-- A Senate committee put off its vote on Representative Hilda Solis’s nomination as labor secretary, one day after her husband paid to settle tax liens.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Solis’s nomination wasn’t in trouble even though the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions today delayed the vote. Her husband paid about $6,400 yesterday to settle the liens.

Solis is the fourth of President Barack Obama’s nominees to top posts whose family’s taxes have become an issue in the Senate’s confirmation process. Three have said they had failed to pay all their taxes, and two withdrew from consideration.

Gibbs said Solis wasn’t involved in the liens and shouldn’t be blamed. “We’re not going to penalize her for her husband’s mistakes,” Gibbs told reporters at the White House. “Her tax returns are in order.”

Former Senator Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, withdrew Feb. 3 as nominee for health secretary after questions arose about errors on his federal taxes. Hours earlier, Nancy Killefer withdrew from consideration as deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. She also cited a personal “tax issue.”

Timothy Geithner was confirmed as Treasury secretary on Jan. 2, overcoming concerns that he underpaid federal taxes in previous years.

Auto Repair Business

Solis’s accountant was unaware of the tax liens until about two days ago, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said. The liens had been outstanding for as long as 16 years against an auto repair business belonging to Solis’s husband, Sam Sayyad. The liens were first reported today by USA Today.

“He believes he paid the taxes,” Vietor said. “He believes they are only county fees and assessments, and he is planning to appeal.”

The couple filed their taxes jointly. The liens were on a business for which Sayyad was the sole proprietor.

Solis, a California Democrat, has already had her nomination delayed while Republicans examine her support for union legislative goals such as the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier to unionize. Labor leaders today said it was important that the Senate confirm her nomination.

“As the daughter of two immigrant workers and proud union members, Hilda Solis is the embodiment of the American dream,” said Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union.

Senator Michael Enzi of Wyoming, the top Republican on the committee considering her nomination, will examine the new issue, said Craig Orfield, Enzi’s spokesman. Enzi hasn’t yet decided how he will vote.

“Obviously, there are new tax issues to review now,” Orfield said. “It’s going to take a few days” because “we’re trying to get answers and verify a lot of new information.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Holly Rosenkrantz in Washington at
Last Updated: February 5, 2009 18:19 EST


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