obama administration withdrawals, withdrawals from obama administration nomination
Jennifer Graylock/AP
Sanjay Gupta

Gupta No Longer Under Consideration for Surgeon General

March 06, 2009 11:59 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The White House's top choice for surgeon general has withdrawn his name in favor of spending time with family and practicing surgery.

Family and Personal Reasons

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a CNN medical correspondent and neurosurgeon, said it was "a really tough decision" to pull his name from the running for surgeon general, but that "it really came down to a sense of timing more than anything else," according to Reuters.

Gupta explained that he didn't want to be pulled away from his family more than he already is. "I came to grips with, ironically, that being surgeon general I probably would not be able to continue to practice surgery," Reuters quoted him as saying.

Word that Gupta could be the next surgeon general had already drawn opposition. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., worried that Gupta wouldn't serve poor or disadvantaged groups well because he has criticized "government-centered health-care" in the past, the Chicago Tribune stated.

Although Gupta had not been formally nominated for the surgeon general position, Reuters stated that the White House had informed him that he was the top choice for the job.

The Chicago Tribune wrote that Gupta's choice "keeps the door open" for neurosurgeon Dr. Gail Rosseau to serve as the next surgeon general. Rosseau is one of just 300 female neurosurgeons nationwide.

Background: Obama’s nominations fade before their time

Some of the cabinet nominees the Obama administration has lost withdrew amid accusations of tax evasion.

Former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, who was slated to become Obama’s secretary of Health and Human Services, resigned after revelations that he failed to pay more than $128,000 in taxes, primarily for the use of a private car and driver that were supplied to him by a company for which he had done consulting work. He was also being questioned about speaking fees he accepted from health care interests, the Boston Globe reports.
Until the resignation, President Obama had supported Daschle. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that Daschle made the decision because he did not want to be a distraction to Obama's agenda.
The administration suffered another blow when Nancy Killefer, tapped to assume two roles—deputy budget director and the first chief performance officer for the federal government—withdrew after allegations that she had failed to pay unemployment compensation taxes on household help.

In addition to those resignations, the Obama administration has suffered a string of embarrassments after several other appointees underwent investigation and/or withdrew themselves from consideration.

Timothy Geithner, who was confirmed as Treasury Secretary (a department that includes the IRS), failed to pay $34,000 in income taxes between 2001 and 2004. According to documents released by the Senate Finance Committee, Geithner settled unpaid back taxes just days before Obama announced his nomination. 

Prior to that, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Obama's first choice for Commerce Secretary, withdrew from the nomination process after it became known that a grand jury was investigating if Richardson granted state contracts to political donors.

The surprising number of complications and withdrawals has prompted some to question the Obama team’s vetting process, which was intended to ensure a more ethical administration and consisted of a 63-point questionnaire that initially drew criticism for being overly intrusive.

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Historical Context: Nominee withdrawals in the past

President Bill Clinton faced a similar series of embarrassments, when both Zoe Baird and then Kimba Wood withdrew from consideration as attorney general after it was discovered that they had improperly compensated domestic help.

George W. Bush faced a similar situation when Linda Chavez, his nominee for labor secretary, withdrew when it was alleged that she had employed an illegal immigrant in the early 1990s.

Like Daschle, Chavez withdrew so as not to draw attention to the new president: “I have decided that I am becoming a distraction. And therefore I have asked President Bush to withdraw my name for secretary of Labor,” she told the press at a news conference in 2001.

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