Another Obama nominee has tax problems

Labor Secretary-nominee Hilda Solis' husband has just paid $6,400 to settle outstanding tax liens, some more than a decade old.

Published February 5, 2009 8:25PM (EST)

When it rains in D.C. these days, it pours Obama administration nominees with tax issues. Thursday brought the news that Labor Secretary-nominee Hilda Solis' husband, Sam Sayyad, had, on Wednesday, paid $6,400 to settle tax liens on his business, some of them dating back 16 years.

The news was broken by USA Today, which asked Solis and Sayyad about the liens on Tuesday; the couple says they were unaware of them before that. A White House spokesman told the paper that Sayyad believes he had paid the taxes, and plans to appeal.

So far, it seems that the administration will stick by its nominee, who was already facing stiff opposition from the GOP. ""We reviewed her tax returns, and her tax returns are in order. The story denotes that her husband had some issues with paying a business tax and, obviously, that tax should be paid," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at a briefing Thursday. "She's not a partner in that business, so we're not going to penalize her for her husband's business mistakes."

The timeline of the story does raise a question about what Gibbs knew and when he knew it. At his press briefing Tuesday, Gibbs was asked, "Are there other nominees out there with tax problems that we don't know about?" He responded by dodging the question, saying, "The president is quite confident in the people that serve in this White House and serve in this administration, that we've put a standard of ethics and accountability that's unseen and unmatched by any previous administration in our country's history." Asked for a yes or no answer, Gibbs dodged again.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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