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Posted on Feb 4, 2009 in Barack Obama, Beltway Politics, Congress, Democrats, Government, Issues, News, Party Politics, Taxes

It doesn’t pass the smell test: Richardson, Geithner, Killefer, Daschle… is Gregg next?

And the honeymoon is over. For anyone who is keeping count – that’s five failed or badly botched nominations in two weeks for President Obama (you may only be able to count to four, but guess which new nominee’s Senate staff is being investigated for their strong ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff).

Obama’s winning line up:

First was Bill Richardson who had been nominated as Commerce Secretary but pulled out because he is facing a grand jury investigation (remember when he was running for President? Oh how things can change…)

Next up was Tim Geithner for Treasury Secretary. He wants to lead the United States out of its overwhelming economic crisis, but he can’t figure out how to pay his taxes. He paid $34,000 in back income taxes and we confirmed him because his late payment gave our economy a boost – thank you Mr. Secretary!

In the middle we have Nancy Killefer who wanted to be Obama’s Chief Performance Officer, or “Performance Czar” as the Obama Administration likes to call the position. The Performance Czar does not require a Senate Confirmation, but Deputy Director of the OBM does, and when everyone discovered that Nancy doesn’t pay her “help” at home, she withdrew her name and crawled back to McKinsey & Co.

Batting clean up was the left’s shinning star Tom Daschle. Daschle had lost his South Dakota Senate seat to John Thune in 2004 (49% to 51%) and was looking for a way to redeem himself in national politics, his plan was to hand out “free” health care to everyone and just charge the bill to America’s credit card. How hard is it to take a former Senate Majority Leader down? Apparently it’s pretty easy, especially when he doesn’t pay $130,000+ in taxes. My question is what is Daschle so afraid of? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that “[Daschle] is like a brother to me,” and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus said he was “shocked” to hear that Daschle was dropping out.

Apparently there is more to the story because with Reid and Baucus backing him, Daschle should have been confirmed despite his tax blunder. Senator Ensign has said Daschle’s situation “doesn’t pass a smell test,” and I agree. Senator Thune’s seat is up for re-election in 2010 – maybe Daschle will get back in the race then.

And wait, we just went into extra innings – pinch hitter Judd Gregg maybe in trouble. Senator Obama’s pick to replace Richardson as the Commerce Secretary, has some trouble brewing of his own.

A former congressional aide to Commerce Secretary-nominee Judd Gregg, Kevin Koonce, is now caught up in an investigation into a Capitol Hill lobbying scandal involving notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff. How close was Koonce to Senator Gregg? He was his Legislative Director (that’s the #2 job) for Gregg’s Senate office from 2002-2004. Koonce is accused of taking tickets to hockey and baseball games from Abramoff’s former deputy Todd Boulanger in exchange for “received favors” in spending legislation. Now it’s up to Obama to ask Gregg if he’s a sports fan.

Read more about the possible Gregg scandal here:

Let’s hope Gregg didn’t resign that Senate seat just yet.