Obama performance czar Killefer withdraws over bungled taxes

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    US President-elect Barack Obama(L) listens as Nancy Killefer speaks on January 7, 2009 at the Presidential Transition office in Washington, DC. Obama announced Nancy Killefer as his choice for Chief Performance Officer. Killefer is a senior director for management firm McKinsey & Co. and was an assistant secretary of the treasury in the administration of former US President Bill Clinton.
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One more Obama Administration official with tax problems was apparently one too many.

So this morning Nancy Killefer, selected to be the nation’s first chief performance officer, withdrew her name from consideration. The White House released a terse, five sentence letter from Killefer to the President at 11:09 a.m.

Worried about distraction and delay

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Killefer, an executive with the McKinsey & Company consulting firm, said the duties facing the peformance officer are “urgent.” She said she had “come to realize in the current environment that my personal tax issue of D.C. Unemployment tax could be used to create exactly the kind of distraction and delay those duties must avoid. Because of this I must reluctantly ask you to withdraw my name from consideration.”

The performance czar position did not require Senate confirmation but her nomination as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) did.

Her tax woes come after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner belatedly paid $34,000 in back taxes before being confirmed. Meanwhile, the Senate is considering whether to confirm Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Thomas Daschle after he had to pay $129,000 in back taxes run up, in part, for the use of a limousine and driver provided to him gratis.

Failure to pay unemployment tax

When Killefer’s nomination was announced in early January, the Associated Press reported that in 2005 the District of Columbia filed a $946.69 tax lien on her home in the capital’s wealthy Wesley Heights neighborhood. The District alleged she had failed to pay unemployment compensation tax for a household employee. It took her five months to get the lien extinguished.

Tax woes not always fatal

Tax problems are not always fatal for those named to key positions. Shirley Chater was confirmed as head of the Social Security Administration under President Clinton despite having failed to pay Social Security taxes for a part-time baby sitter.

But Killefer’s situation was in danger of making tax woes look like a trend for Obama appointees.

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