More than a dozen high-profile potential cabinet nominees are paying Washington, D.C., lawyers tens of thousands of dollars for opposition research on themselves, in hopes of being tapped for a Hillary Clinton presidential administration.
Even though the election is two weeks away, some who hope to be tapped for the Democratic nominee’s prospective cabinet want to give themselves an edge by pre-vetting themselves, according to Politico.
The total bill for running your own opposition research could be “fifty- or one hundred thousand dollars, I’ve certainly seen bills like that for a pre-vet,” James Joseph, a tax law expert at Arnold & Porter, told Politico. “Sometimes they can be more expensive than that.”
The money could be worth it, however, to avoid surprises coming out during the approval process.
Financial problems, tax dodging, hiring an illegal immigrant as a maid, extramarital affairs are all things that could prevent an appointee to get the congressional approval to the cabinet. “A candidate has to be willing to testify about personal affairs,” Richard Painter, who was associate White House counsel under former President George W. Bush, told Politico.
Tom Daschle, nominated by President Barack Obama to run the Department of Health and Human Services in 2008, had to withdraw his nomination after it was revealed that he hadn’t paid income taxes for three years.
Opposition research is intended to find anything in the past that could pose a problem for nomination. Sometimes, the political appointee may not realize that something they did in the past would derail their confirmation.
For instance, Linda Chavez, tapped by President George W. Bush for labor secretary in 2000, withdrew her nomination after a haranguing for giving money and shelter to an illegal Guatemalan immigrant in the 1990s. Chavez said didn’t know that the woman she helped was an illegal until after the woman left her house, and maintained that she didn’t think it was an issue since she didn’t employ the immigrant, only made an act of charity.
“I always like to encourage them to think of it early,” Joseph, who often works with Democrats to do pre-nomination research, told Politico. Joseph recommends starting research into potential political appointees years in advance “to clean things up and make sure that we know what’s missing — or we know what we would want to find if we were on the other side.”
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