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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Open Letter to Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

But first, a portion of the article from Politico:

To simplify the process, Alexander called on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to review how to “consolidate and simplify the forms so that we learn only what we need to know.”

One thing that Alexander said the public didn’t need to know was the tax issue dogging Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, who is Obama’s nominee to be the U.S. trade representative. Kirk was hit for failing to list as income speaking fees that he gave away to charity — and later was forced to pay back taxes.

“The matter is so trivial as to be irrelevant to his suitability to be the trade nominee,” Alexander said.

Obama is still facing a number of vacancies, including top deputy positions at the Treasury Department, which is helping to direct the government’s efforts to stabilize the economy.

Dear Senator Lamar Alexander:

I read this morning in Politico that you wish to simplify the vetting process for members of Presidential Administration teams. That you wish to “consolidate and simplify the forms so that we learn only what we need to know," and that you consider Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk failing to list income for speaking fees as "so trivial as to be irrelevant to his suitability to be the trade nominee."

I am beside myself with utter incomprehension of why you would fail to see the point of properly vetting these people for public service.

Someone with tax problems could be a target of an espionage operation (foreign, domestic, or industrial) designed to take advantage of threatening to expose those lapses of moral judgment in order to gain information or pollute the decision making process of an administration, or in a department of an administration. And that is just the first thing that comes to my mind.

Could you please provide for me a list of laws and regulations we can ignore and still be considered for a position in public service?

There should be nothing about the vetting or approval process that should be "easy", "streamlined", or designed to designate certain tax law violations as "trivial."

If you were a normal person (or even a conservative), you would realize that there is nothing trivial about a tax problem if you have ever had the experience of dealing with the IRS.

Please think a little on what party you belong to, and what that party is supposed to stand for, Senator.

If more Republicans were like you, I suppose President Obama would feel free to nominate Bill Ayers for Secretary of Education and George Soros for Secretary of the Treasury.