Husband's Tax Problems Table Solis Vote

A Senate panel on Thursday postponed a scheduled vote on the nomination of Hilda Solis as labor secretary, but White House officials say they do not believe her confirmation has been jeopardized by questions about her husband's taxes.

The delay came after Solis' husband paid about $6,400 a day earlier to settle tax liens on his auto repair business that had been outstanding for as long as 16 years.

Tax issues have forced the withdrawal of three cabinet nominees, prompting President Barack Obama to pledge he would "make sure that we're not screwing up again" in vetting Cabinet nominees.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Solis' own tax returns "are in order."

"She's not a partner in that business," Gibbs said. "So we're not going to penalize her for her husband's business mistakes."

Asked if the Solis nomination was in trouble, Gibbs said: "I don't believe it is at all."

USA Today first reported Thursday that Los Angeles County records showed 15 outstanding state and county tax liens totaling $7,630 against Sam Sayyad and his business.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said Solis and Sayyad were unaware of the liens until asked about them this week. He said Sayyad paid about $6,400 to Los Angeles County on Wednesday to settle the liens, but he plans to appeal.

Vietor said Solis and her husband file personal income taxes jointly, but that Sayyad is the sole proprietor of the business and all tax communications about it go only to him at a separate business address.

"Sayyad does not believe the penalties were accurately assessed, but he's paid them out of an abundance of caution and is planning to appeal," Vietor said.

The Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee issued a joint statement minutes before the committee was to meet to vote on Solis' nomination to say that lawmakers need more time to review documentation submitted in support of Solis.

The postponement also comes amid complaints from some Republicans about Solis' role as a board member and treasurer of American Rights at Work, a group pushing for passage of a bill to make it easier for workers to form unions.

Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, the committee's top Republican, has suggested that Solis should recuse herself for two years from debate over the Employee Free Choice Act because of her position with the group. He cites new ethics guidelines put in place by Obama that limit appointees who previously lobbied on an issue from being involved in the issue during their first two years in office.

Solis said last week in written responses to Enzi that her role with the group did not involve any lobbying activities.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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