So, couldn’t they read the questionnaire?

| February 3, 2009

Let’s look at the track record so far, two weeks into the Obama Administration:

  • Tom Daschle, now-former nominee for Sec’y of Health and Human Services, leaves the Senate, earns millions of dollars per year for uncertain work, fails to pay taxes and has heavy lobbying-like involvement from the health industry; his withdrawal was announced after I wrote this original post this morning.
  • Nancy Killefer, former nominee for Chief Performance Officer for the US Federal Government, withdrew from consideration due to failing to pay employment taxes for household help for a year and a half.
  • Hilda Solis, nominee for Sec’y of Labor, sat on the board of a pro-labor-union lobbying group (while a member of Congress, no less).
  • Timothy Geithner, now-confirmed US Treasury Secretary, fails to pay taxes for which he received reimbursements.
  • Hillary Clinton, now-confirmed US Sec’y of State, continues to be dogged by questions regarding who gave her husband what funds.
  • Bill Richardson, former nominee for US Sec’y of Commerce, withdrew from consideration due to on-going Federal investigations regarding pay-for-play allegations connected to his role as governor of New Mexico.

Now, as you may recall, there was a bit a of a kerfuffle when the Obama Administration released back in November its detailed 63-topic questionnaire for all prospective appointment (here’s a PDF of the entire list of questions; they’re also all listed below in the body of this post). The general response at the time was that this seemed very invasive, compared to prior vettings for government service. Now it seems as though the Obama Administration wasn’t tough enough — or, at least, that its nominees pushed ahead in spite of the answers they were giving.

I’ve reproduced the Obama Administration questionnaire after the jump. These people can’t say that they didn’t know what was coming. ..bruce w..

Questionnaire

I. Professional Background

(1) Please furnish copies of all resumes and biographical statements issued by you or any other entity at your discretion or with your consent within the past ten years.

(2) If you are a member of any licensed profession or occupation, please specify the following: the present status of each license; whether any such license has ever been withdrawn, suspended, or revoked; whether any disciplinary action of any kind has ever been taken in connection with your license. Please also list any applications for professional licenses or certifications that my have been denied, and the reasons for denial.

(3) Please provide the names of all corporations, firms, partnerships, trusts, or other business enterprises, and all non-profit organizations and other such institutions with which you are now, or during the past ten years have been, affiliated with as an advisor, attorney or consultant.

(4) Please chronologically list activities, other than those listed on your resume or biography, from which you have derived earned income (e.g., self-employment, consulting activities, writing, speaking, royalties and honoraria) for the past ten years.

(5) Have you or your spouse ever registered as a lobbyist or other legislative agent to influence federal or state legislation or administrative acts? Have you or your spouse ever received payment for acting as a lobbyist or legislative agent? If so, please supply details.

(6) If you or your spouse have performed any work for, received any payments from and/or made any payments to any foreign government, business, non-profit organization or individual, please describe the circumstances, and identify the source and amount. Also please specify if you or your spouse have ever been registered as an agent for a foreign principal.

(7) If you or your spouse have ever lived or worked abroad, please describe the circumstances.

(8) Briefly describe the most controversial matters you have been involved with during the course of your career.

(9) Please provide the names, addresses and telephone numbers of three professional references. If possible, please furnish names of individuals with whom you have worked as a peer, a subordinate and as a supervisor.

II. Publications, Writings & Speeches

(10) Writings: Please list and, if readily available, provide a copy of each book, article, column or publication (including but not limited to any posts or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored, individually or with others. Please list all aliases or “handles” you have used to communicate on the Internet.

(11) Testimony: Please identify each instance in which you have testified before Congress or other legislative, administrative, investigative or regulatory body and specify the subject matter of the testimony. If available, please provide summaries or transcripts of your testimony.

(12) Speeches: Please identify all speeches you have given. If available please provide the test or recordings of each such speech or identify any recordings of speeches of which you are aware.

(13) Electronic communications: If you have ever sent an electronic communication,
including but not limited to an email, text message or instant message, that could
suggest a conflict or interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your
family, or the President-Elect if it were made public, please describe.

(14) Diaries: If you keep or have ever kept a diary that contains anything that could
suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your
family, or the President-Elect if it were made public, please describe.

III Relationships & Affiliations

(15) Please list all corporations, partnerships, trusts, or other business entities with
which you or your spouse have ever been affiliated as an officer, director, trustee,
partner, or holder of a significant equity or financial interest ( i.e. any ownership
interest of more than 5%), or whose decisions you or your spouse had the ability to
influence. Please identify the entity, your relationship to the entity, and dates of
service and/or affiliation.

(16) Please list each membership, including any board memberships, you or your
spouse have or have had with any political, civic, social, charitable, educational,
professional, fraternal, benevolent or religious organization, private club or other
membership organization (including any type of tax-exempt organization) during
the past ten years. Please include dates of membership and any positions you may
have had with the organization.

(17) Have you or your spouse at any time belonged to any membership organization,
including but not limited to those described in the preceding paragraph, that as a
matter of policy or practice, denied or restricted membership or affiliation based
on race, sex, disability, ethnic background, religion or sexual orientation or has
been subject to a claim that it has done so? If so, please provide details.

(18) Please specifically describe any affiliation you, or your spouse or any member of
your immediate family have, or have had, with any financial, banking, mortgage or
insurance institution that is currently the subject of federal government
intervention as part of the ongoing economic crisis. This question includes, but is
not limited to, the following: Fannie Mac, Freddie Mac, AIG, and Washington
Mutual.

(19) If you currently serve or in the last ten years have served as an administrator,
executor, trustee, receiver, or in any other similar fiduciary capacity, please
describe for each: your exact position; the nature of your duties; the persons or
entities for whom you act(ed) as a fiduciary; the dates during which you served in
such a fiduciary capacity; and any supervising courts.

(20) Other than the entities identified in questions 15-19 above, please provide the
names and details of any individuals and organizations with which you or your
spouse have been associated with which might present a conflict of interest with
your proposed federal office, or have the potential for embarrassment.

IV. Financial Information

(21) Please provide copies of all financial disclosure forms you or your spouse have
been required to file within the past ten years, if applicable.

(22) Please furnish a copy of each net worth statement that you have prepared and
submitted for any purpose (e.g., bank loans) during the past ten years.

(23) Please furnish a copy of all brokerage statements for investment accounts for the
past year.

(24) Please list all loans in excess of $10,000 made to you or your spouse, or by you or
your spouse, which existed at anytime during the past ten years. Please specify the
creditor or debtor, interest rate, due date and any other key terms, and identify the
purpose for which the liability was incurred. Please also specify the extent to
which any such loans contained terms not generally available to the public, such as
below-market rates.

(25) Please furnish a copy of each trust of which you, your spouse or any child under
21 is a grantor or beneficiary. Also please furnish a copy of any amendment, and
any document indicating a change in trustee of any such trust.

(26) Please describe all real estate held in your name or in your spouse’s name during
the last ten years. Please include real estate held in combination with others, held
in trust, held by a nominee, or held by or through any other third person or titleholding
entity, and identify such other person or entity.

(27) Please describe the mortgage terms for any properties listed under question 21,
including the rate, date, holder, service entity, and any special circumstances
surrounding the acquisition of the mortgage(s).

(28) Have you or your spouse at any time held property (as a named owner of record
individually or in combination with others) the title to which contained any
restrictive covenant based on race, sex, ethnic background, religion or sexual
orientation? If so, please provide all relevant information and records.

(29) Please describe any contractual or informal arrangement you may have made with
any person or business enterprise in regard to future employment or termination
payments or financial benefits that will be provided to you if you enter federal
government employment or you leave your current employment.

(30) Do you, your spouse, or any member of your immediate family, or business in
which you , your spouse, or immediate family member have a substantial interest,
have any relationship with any government, whether federal, state, local, Indian or
foreign, through contracts, consulting services, grants, loans or guarantees? If yes,
please provide details.

(31) Are there any categories of personal financial records (e.g., individual, partnership
or sole proprietorship tax returns, mortgage documents, loan agreements) that you
(or your spouse) will not release publicly if necessary? If so, please identify these
records and state the reasons for withholding them.

(32) Other than from relatives, or from close and longstanding personal friends on
occasions such as birthdays or seasonal holidays, have you or your spouse ever
received a gift exceeding $50.00 in value? Please identify the donor, the value of
the gift, the date received and the circumstances in which the gift was made.

V. Tax Information

(33) Please furnish a copy of each federal and state (and, if applicable, municipal or
foreign) tax return, including any amended return, for 2005 and all subsequent
years. If filed separately, furnish the same documents for your spouse.

(34) Have you and your spouse filed all required federal, state, local and foreign
income tax returns?

(35) Have you or your spouse ever filed a late tax return without a valid extension? If
so describe the circumstances and resolution of the matter.

(36) Have you ever paid any tax penalties? If so, describe the circumstances and the
resolution of the matter.

(37) Has a tax lien or other collection procedure ever been instituted against you or
your spouse by federal, state or local authorities? If so, describe the circumstances
and the resolution of the matter.

(38) Have you ever not paid U.S. and/or state income taxes because you were not
resident in the United States, or for any other reason?

(39) Have you been or do you have any expectation that you will be the subject of any
tax, financial, or other audit or inquiry? If so, please describe.

(40) Have you ever participated in an investment program or partnership which has
been audited or investigated by federal, state or local authorities? If so, describe
the circumstances and the resolution of the matter.

(41) Please answer each of the questions in this section for your spouse (for the past ten
years) and for any business with which you have been affiliated as an officer,
director, partner, trustee or significant owner (i.e., any ownership interest of more
than 5%).

VI. Legal and Administrative Proceedings

(42) Please list any lawsuits you or your spouse have brought as a plaintiff or which
were brought against you or your spouse as a defendant or third party, or in which
you or your spouse have testified at trial or deposition. Include in this response
any arbitrations, mediations, and contested divorce proceedings or other domestic
relations matters.

(43) Please list and describe any administrative agency proceedings in which you or
your spouse have been involved as a party or material witness, and describe the
details of your involvement.

(44) Please list any insolvency or bankruptcy proceedings in which you or your spouse
have been involved as a debtor, creditor, claimant, or defendant, and describe
details of that involvement.

(45) If you have ever been investigated by any law enforcement agency (whether
federal, state, military, local, Indian or foreign), arrested for, charged with, or
convicted of violating any law, regulation or ordinance (whether federal, state,
military, local, Indian or foreign), please identify each such instance and supply
details, including: date, place; law enforcement agency; and court. Provide the
same information for your spouse and for each child over 21, and for any business
with which you have been affiliated (e.g., as a director, officer, partner, trustee, or
holder of any significant ownership interest), and furnish all pertinent records.
You may exclude traffic offenses for which the fine was less than $50.

(46) Have any members of your family or close social or business associates been
arrested for, charged with and/or convicted of a crime, other than a minor traffic
violation? If so, please identify and describe each such arrest, charge or
conviction. Please provide the same information for anyone under your
professional supervision, or anyone of your superiors.

(47) Have you or your spouse ever been accused, formally or informally, of any
violation of government or agency procedure (specifically including security
violations)?

(48) Please list any complaint ever made against you or your spouse by any
administrative agency, regulatory body, professional association or organization,
or federal, state, local, Indian or foreign ethics agency, committee, or official.

(49) Please list any malpractice claim made against you, formally or informally, and
describe the resolution of the matter.

(50) Please list any claims of sexual harassment of other workplace misconduct, made
against you or any employee directly supervised by you, including the resolution
of the matter.

(51) Have any civil judgments or liens been rendered against you or your spouse? If so,
please provide details.

(52) With regard to each obligation of child support and/or alimony owed by you or
your spouse, please state the following: Have any payments been made late or
have there been any lapses in payment? Have any motions or court actions for
modification of child support or alimony been filed or instituted? Have any
actions or motions to compel payment or initiate collection of late payments and/or
past due amounts been filed or threatened? Have any writs of garnishment been
issued? If yes, please provide details.

VII. Domestic Help

(53) Do you presently have or have you in the past had occasional (to be sure, a
monthly housekeeper is covered) or regular domestic help? (e.g., a housekeeper,
babysitter, nanny or gardener) If yes, please indicate the name and years of service
for each individual and also provide a brief description of the services rendered.

(54) Were all individuals listed in Question 49 legally eligible to work in the U.S. at the
time that you employed them?

(55) Have you paid all taxes and social security obligations applicable to the
employment of the individuals listed in Question 49? Do you use an outside
service to pay such individuals? Have all payments related to the employment of
these individuals been made in a timely fashion? If not, please identify the length
and reason for the delay(s).

(56) Have you complied with all federal, state and local laws and regulations related to
the employment of individuals listed in Question 49?

VIII. Miscellaneous

(57) If applicable, please list the names, addresses and phone number of cohabitants
within the last ten years. A cohabitant is a person with whom you share bonds of
affection, obligation, or other commitment, as opposed to a person with whom you
live for reasons of convenience (roommate).

(58) Please provide the URL address of any websites that feature you in either a
personal or professional capacity (e.g., Facebook, My Space, etc.)

(59) Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide
complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever
lapsed? Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been
the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.

(60) Have you had a complete physical within the past year? Please describe your
overall health and any medical treatment you are currently receiving.

(61) Have you had any association with any person, group or business venture that
could be used – even unfairly – to impugn or attack your character and
qualifications for government service?

(62) Do you know anyone or any organization, either in the private sector or
government service, that might take steps, overtly or covertly, fairly or unfairly, to
criticize your nomination, including any news organization? If so, please identify
and explain the potential basis for criticism.

(63) Please provide any other information, including information about other members
of your family, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of
embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect.

[the rest of the questionnaire is a release authorization and other notifications]

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Category: Main, Obama Administration, US Politics

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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