In a startling turn of events, Bernard Kerik, President Bush's nominee to replace Department of Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, has withdrawn his name from consideration. According to the Washington Post, Kerik sent a two-sentence e-mail to the White House around 10 p.m. on Friday night, indicating that he was taking the action for "personal reasons."
Kerik's nomination had been widely supported on both sides of the aisle, and his Senate confirmation was expected to be quick and easy. But the new revelation that he had failed to pay taxes for a nanny he had employed, and that she "may have been an illegal immigrant," were obviously facts that he considered to be too much political baggage. As a result, he is stepping away from the DHS position.
While a favorite for the position, it was unclear how well he'd function in the DHS top job. That position is responsible for creating a wide range of policy that affects every sector of American life - including GA. However, none of his prior assignments has had a policy-generating component - or any interaction with GA.
Kerik has built a reputation as a tough, no-nonsense administrator. Coming from a hardscrabble background, he began his professional career in the U.S. Army as a military policeman, assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he trained Special Forces personnel. He worked as a private security guard in Saudi Arabia and a jail warden in New Jersey. Kerik, 49, stepped onto the national stage after the 9/11 attacks, while he was New York City's police commissioner. He has continued his relationship with former Mayor Rudy Guiliani and is now employed in his security consulting firm.
This isn't the first time that domestic help has derailed a political future. In 2001, Bush's first nominee for Labor Secretary, Linda Chavez, withdrew for identical reasons. Similarly, President Clinton's choice for attorney general in 1993, Zoe Baird, had also failed to pay social security taxes for a couple of employees who were also illegal immigrants.
December 11, 2004