Who Told Woodward of Impending Tax Problems Over 10 Days Ago?

Nancy Killefer just withdrew her nomination to be OMB’s Chief Performance Officer because of tax problems. That makes three top Obama appointees–Tim Geithner, Tom Daschle, and Killefer–who seem to be discovering tax problems rather late in the game.

But of course, someone had already discovered these problems at least ten days ago–or that’s what I assume from this Woodward clip from January 25. At that point, Woodward (in his inimitable "I used to be a journalist but now I’m just the world’s best paid gossip" way) was already predicting we’d see more tax problems beyond Geithner (and, of course, we’re still waiting for the nannies). 

So who told Woodard? Does he have a mole in the Obama vetting process? Why would Obama’s vetters pick Woodward, of all people?

Or is Woodward getting this stuff from somewhere else, perhaps from some of his crack (ha!) sources in the Bush White House?

  1. JimWhite says:

    Blleeerggh! Does that make the 100% correlation still hold? All female nominees with tax problems quietly go away and the males are protected by the village? Please tell me I missed one. Please.

  2. behindthefall says:

    Would the IRS itself have sufficient information to figure out that people were not reporting benefits and income?

    Does the FBI in D.C. simply investigate everybody all the time?

  3. dqueue says:

    From his “former” NavInt contacts? Elements of the Deep State?

    Just why the hell aren’t these pols paying taxes, by the way?

  4. R.H. Green says:

    There is a computer data-matching program used by the Fed Gov that verifies consistancy between information given to Soc Security, VA, IRS, student loans, unemployment benefits, etc. So this info has been available to whoever has the authority to use it. This may be available to a transition vetting team, but somehow I doubt it. (And that was a nasty crack). PS, are crack sources those high in the administration? (Ducks)

  5. rkilowatt says:

    1. Inspect [or piece together] detailed accounts of Woodward’s timeline from university thru getting a job at the WPost.
    2. Consider the data you compiled.
    3. If your thoughts are still confused, redo steps 1 and 2.

  6. ApacheTrout says:

    It seems to me that a good vetting process, whether it be done by Obama’s team or by a journalist with good sources within the IRS, would include questions about the nominee’s family/household employees. If they have employees, the next questions would be directed toward the IRS sources about whether the nominees tax returns included these employees. I can’t imagine that Obama’s team wouldn’t ask to see the tax returns. And I certainly expect there to be Bush-burrowed IRS employees who gladly inspect these tax returns and give summaries to their close Republican operatives.

  7. freepatriot says:

    who knows

    woodward is Navy Intel from way back

    once a spook, always a spook

    I wouldn’t trust his as far as I could throw him (I figure about 4.5 feet)

    • Mauimom says:

      I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him (I figure about 4.5 feet)

      You must have access to a humongous catapult to get him even that far!

      What an attention suck and fame whore Woodward is! As if there weren’t enough scandals around post-Watergate that he could have reported on to keep his fat ass on the Sunday talk shows and articles on p.1 of the WaPoo.

  8. drational says:

    Aside from the leak issue, I am disappointed in Obama. I realize that there are soooo many new hires that it is difficult to vet them thoroughly, but paying taxes for cleaning ladies and nannies (and yourself, for goodness sake) has been Public Service 101 for the past 16 years.
    This is either bad transition work or an indicator that Obama is more of the same. Or both.

    • Neil says:

      I agree. At the least, he should be doing a better job vetting and at the most he should be approving fewer waivers to his lobbyist policy.

    • cinnamonape says:

      There is a third possibility…that just about anyone in Washington is involved in these sorts of acts. or have tax advisors telling them that such acts are likely to pass muster with the IRS. I susopect that a lot of Washingtonians view the process as a bit of a game. If they are caught they’ll pay a fine, but usually only back taxes and interest. And if they don’t get caught within five years, well it’s all okay.

      Well it was until Obama established his new rules regarding disclosure and ethics. Then it is a problem.

      It would not have even seen the antiseptic light of day under prior Administrations. So before there was no “cost”. And lots of benefits. So I suspect if you auditted Congress, former Congressional officials, and lobbyists and corporate executives you’d find 95% of them doing this sort of stuff…like not paying independent contractors taxes, or failing to disclose gifts for tax purposes, etc.

      • prostratedragon says:

        Today I found myself wondering whether that ethos doesn’t also affect the tax preparers these guys use —who I assume are hardly the H&R Block folk most of us might access at the mall.

        Suppose the preparers-to-the-elite, being well-informed, view their job as knowing which dodges and “mistakes” are likely to ease by. Then these rules are applied with hardly even the need for the usual winks and nudges.

        Perhaps a naïf unaware of what needs to be communicated to one’s preparer could be caught out thereby; however I must say that, though Daschle doesn’t strike me as an exceptionally bad sort, I doubt that he is a naïf.

        But then if such means of handling one’s business really is so pervasive, it does suggest that a great many potential appointees could have such objections thrown in their paths, but the ones to which it actually happens might be chosen strategically; the hampered process that led to Janet Reno’s ambushing echoes loudly here to me too.

        • pseudonymousinnc says:

          Suppose the preparers-to-the-elite, being well-informed, view their job as knowing which dodges and “mistakes” are likely to ease by. Then these rules are applied with hardly even the need for the usual winks and nudges.

          Chiselling taxes is the great middle-class (particularly upper-middle-class) pursuit. Leona Helmsley’s mistake was that she said it (or was alleged to have said it) out loud.

  9. Neil says:

    This is the guy who made his career with an informant at the top level of the FBI, the whistle blower on the Nixon crime syndicate.

    I can’t hear the cry… the cry about sources and methods. Somehow, this kind of leak is ok but whistle blower protection for nationwide criminal activity at the NSA is not?

    I’m going to put a potted plant on my balcony and whenever I have flumoxing question…

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:


      Daschle: $100,000 in bad tax advice.
      Wall Street: $4,000,000,000 in bonuses from TARP.
      Last Sept 29th, 2008, an estimated $1,200,000,000,000 vaporized from the equity markets in a single day. And that was only one of the ‘bad days’ last fall.

      Clearly, the biggest story of the week is Tom Daschle’s bad tax advice.

  10. nomolos says:

    So who told Woodard?

    I assume that Woodie deduced that the rich, in general, try to avoid paying taxes and as all presidential appointees are well heeled enough to get influence it follows that most, if not all, of them have fucked us on their taxes.

  11. bmaz says:

    I’m going to put a potted plant on my balcony and whenever I have flumoxing question…

    How you gonna get Alberto Gonzales on your balcony?

  12. chrisc says:

    Tax liens are public record-at least in San Diego county.
    There is an online searchable index and if I wanted to, I could request to see those documents.
    Anyone with access to lexis nexis can do a quick search plugging in the names of Obama’s nominees.
    Daschle’s tax problems would not have shown up if there was no lein, but Killefer’s would have.

    So Woodword’s mole may just be an assistant with access to lexisnexis.
    Or maybe even Woodward himself looked it up.

  13. bmaz says:

    Daschle has known about his problems for a long time, probably some others in his circle therefore have too. It could have been easy for Woodward to know about Daschle; the better question is did he also know about Kilefer? His comment seemed to indicate something sizable, but that could be Daschle by himself. I have no clue, but I would like to know what exactly he was talking about, and it there were multiple whats.

    • Peterr says:

      I’m with you, bmaz.

      Given the social circles of DC, I can easily see Daschle having said to a couple of friends over dinner, “What a pain it is to sort out the whole business expense vs. gift mess.” Heads nod all around the table, as he continues. “I’ve got this driver and car, part for business, part for personal use . . . and now I’m trying to sort it all out with my accountant, the IRS, and the fella who gave me the car/driver in the first place.” More nods, and maybe a few sympathetic “I’ve been there” comments as well.

      Next party, someone else tells a similar story, and one of the friends of Daschle says “You know, Tom Daschle was telling me the same thing last week . . .” Give it another couple of parties, and it gets around to Woodward. He can’t run with it, as it is fifth-hand or so, but he knows it’s out there and can put two and two together.

      Which is not to say there aren’t BushCo folks deep in some of the federal agencies that wouldn’t love to stick it to the new administration — but sometimes the simplest explanation is the High School Gossip Mill that is the DC Cocktail Circuit.

  14. chrisc says:

    I’ve always liked Daschle but he seems the poster politician for everything Obama promised his administration was not going to be.

    I have a pet peeve about the tax situation. My local city council members and top administrators get an untaxed “car allowance.” The amount is the same for everyone in a certain position and it is paid to people when they are on vacation as well as when they are too ill to show up for their duties., They do not need to keep or show any records to get the allowance.

    I believe, that by IRS rules, any amount over their actual expenditures would be considered taxable income. Some city lawyers have advised against giving such allowances and their cities have withdrawn them, but not my city. A local councilmember has said he will keep taking it until told otherwise.

    The Obama administration could start with having the IRS promote the tax laws that apply to public officials and implement a policy to make sure everyone is complying. Now, THAT would be Change I can believe in. I find it quite disgusting that all these bright public servant types have evaded paying their taxes.

  15. WarOnWarOff says:

    Remember when Obama was elected it was announced there would be a laborious application wherein applicants must disclose even anonymous blog postings. Guess tax problems weren’t high on the agenda.

    • dosido says:

      o/t but has anyone else noticed Microsoft’s pro data mining ads to condition us to accept this as smart business practice vs. invasion of privacy and/or profiling?

  16. Phoenix Woman says:

    I was wondering how the Republicans were going to act out. I keep thinking of how they made a point of nitpicking Clinton’s AG nominees; Janet Reno was late to deal with Waco — a situation she inherited from Bush’s FBI and BATF heads, who were still in place thanks to GOP Congressional asshattery with Clinton’s nominees — because of their obnoxiousness.

    If their nominees had been subjected to this level of scrutiny, they wouldn’t have survived it either.

    And yes, this stinks to high heaven of a Bush holdover saboteur.

  17. tanbark says:

    Better to find out about them now, than after they’re in office.

    I won’t blame Woodward for this. It’s practically a favor. If only he’d discussed Daschle’s little $120,000 tax-glitch, and his…advice…as an unregistered lobbyist. (Not to mention his wife’s bidness.)

  18. dosido says:

    This type of tax problem coming up now is beyond stupid. Daschle should withdraw, esp. since he’s so cozy with the health companies.

    bad choice to represent the change Obama promised. I don’t care how likable Daschle might be. IIRC, wasn’t he supposed to deliver a state during elections and failed? do i have that right?

  19. tanbark says:

    It’s getting to be like a B-grade horror movie:

    One hack after another.

    Obama could have had someone spend 48 hours rummaging around in the Public Health Care closet and come up with a clean nominee for H&HS; instead, as of yesterday, he’s circling the wagons for Daschle. I hope that changes. Daschle needs to go under the bus, instanter.

  20. emptywheel says:

    For those suggesting the spook angle, yes, that’s one of the reasons why I raised teh question.

    For Peterr and bmaz, my question for you is why Woodward had this story but no one else?

    I mean, I know Woodward travels some pretty elite circles, but he’s hardly the only “journalist” in DC who does so. So why did Woodward get this story and not–say–Andrea Mitchell, who is, unlike Woodward, actively engaged in journamalisming.

      • Peterr says:

        I think others DID have the same story, but Woodward’s the one with the biggest ego in need of stroking. “Yep, I’ve got this scoop, but I can’t really use it, so I’ll just drop some hints . . .”

        As I said, it’s straight out of High School Gossip 101, and Woodward just wants to show that he’s in the center of all that’s going on.

        Others, perhaps, were trying to run down the story to be able to release it properly. Woodward, OTOH, is just trying to boost his own ego. Life must be rough, poor guy, now that he doesn’t have his access to life with Bush, Rove, and Co.

    • NCDem says:

      Marcy, I would encourage you to read the latest book, Family Secrets, by Russ Baker. He has a few pages on Woodward and his connections to CIA and his quick work with the FBI on Nixon. Woodward’s quick upward movement in journalism to the Washington Post deserves a very bright light.

  21. smedley says:

    I agree with dosido @26. Obama is wasting political capital on Geithner and Daschle. And the argument, that Geithner and Daschle are essential at this time, only puts more pressure on them to succeed early. They (and Obama) will be ridiculed by mid-summer when the economy has not turned around and we have no universal health care.

  22. perris says:

    But of course, someone had already discovered these problems at least ten days ago

    you are incredible marcy

  23. Hmmm says:

    Also, while this is in NATO rather than US forces, the resistance of subordinate officers to the illegal and immoral and etc. order goes to the policy-schism-in-the-military meme we’ve been discussing in other threads lately.

  24. RAMA says:

    How about this idea: Everybody pay their goddamned taxes. If you can’t figure them out for yourself, go to H&R Block. I fail to understand what is so hard about that. That way you don’t have to wait for some wingnut to make a big deal out of things because there’s no deal to be made.

    And Obama’s people might want to start vetting people a little more carefully, assuming they didn’t know about this stuff ahead of time. If they DID know it ahead of time, you’ve got to wonder what they were thinking to let it dribble out a drop at a time. This kind of stuff needs to be part of the discussion from the beginning if you’re going to try to ride a nomination with issues through.