Commentary Magazine


A Twofer

So far, several of President Obama’s administration nominees have been derailed by scandal. Several have been caught up in tax messes while others exposed as former lobbyists.

Well, with Representative Hilda Solis, Labor Secretary nominee, he’s scored a double.
First it came out that Solis had failed to reveal her involvement with a pro-union organization, American Rights at Work. And she wasn’t just on the board of directors, she was the treasurer, who had to sign off on all expenditures by the organization — including almost a quarter of a million dollars on lobbying. And ARW’s biggest concern was the Orwellian-named “Employee Free Choice Act” — a measure co-sponsored by Solis. As the Daily Standard put it, Solis was, in essence, lobbying herself.

Unusual? Certainly. Improper? Probably. Illegal? No. But she didn’t bother to disclose her conflict of interest on her financial disclosure forms to the House, and that’s a serious no-no.

As far as taxes go, Solis’s problems are pretty trivial. Her husband owns an auto repair business that has about $6,400 in outstanding county tax liens. Solis isn’t involved in the business, though. In most cases, it would be worth a joke or two, but not a major cause for concern.

But so far three Obama nominees have had their tax woes exposed. It led to the downfall of two and the continued pillorying of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. The man in charge of the IRS can’t even keep his own taxes straight? As Larry The Cable Guy says: “I don’t care who you are, that’s funny right there.” The Obama administration can’t afford to be known as the place where they embrace tax cheats, but ask everyone else to pay their “patriotic” tax hikes.

However, Solis’s tax woes are a mere distraction. If anything, they help her — they draw attention to a trivial reason to oppose her while distracting from the real problem. Her actions with the ARW — and her failure to disclose those actions, as required, to the House — constitutes a huge ethical blind spot that should not be tolerated, let alone rewarded.

Solis’s tax problems (or, more properly, her husband’s tax problems) need to be brought up quickly, and dismissed just as quickly. That would allow for more examination of her true lapse in judgment — her serving both as a member of Congress and the treasurer of an advocacy group that worked on influencing legislation, and her failure to disclose that dual role to her colleagues.

And then, if there is still time, ask her to explain just why it is such a good thing for American workers to be denied the right to decide whether or not to join a union through the sanctity of a secret ballot.