Donald Trump’s Wealthy Cabinet Picks to Undergo Financial Scrutiny He Didn’t Face
WASHINGTON — For the billionaires, the multimillionaires and the plain well-off people whom President-elect Donald J. Trump is choosing for his cabinet, the first step to office will be the sort of grilling he didn’t face — on potential business conflicts of interest and, for some, tax returns — courtesy of the Senate sleuths who have taken their toll in the past.
华盛顿——对于被候任总统唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)选中加入其内阁的亿万富翁、千万富翁和普通的有钱人来说，入职的第一步将是候任总统本人不曾经历的那种盘查——针对潜在的商业利益冲突，对有些人来说，还需要提交纳税申报表。这些工作将由参议院的调查人员进行，他们过去否决过一些人选。
President Obama’s first Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, was nearly derailed in 2009. His first choice for secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, did not make it through that year.
2009年，奥巴马总统的第一任财政部长蒂莫西·F·盖特纳(Timothy F. Geithner)就差点被刷掉。他最初选择担任卫生与公共服务部长的人选汤姆·达施勒(Tom Daschle)则没能通过审核。
Now the billionaires Betsy DeVos, Linda McMahon and Wilbur L. Ross Jr., and the multimillionaires Rex W. Tillerson, Ben Carson, Elaine Chao, Steven Mnuchin, Representative Tom Price, Andrew F. Puzder and Todd Ricketts can expect much of the same scrutiny.
现在，亿万富翁贝茜·德沃斯(Betsy DeVos)、琳达·麦克马洪(Linda McMahon)、小威尔伯·L·罗斯(Wilbur L. Ross Jr.)，百万富翁雷克斯·W·蒂勒森(Rex W. Tillerson)、本·卡森(Ben Carson)、赵小兰(Elaine Chao)、史蒂文·努钦(Steven Mnuchin)，以及国会议员汤姆·普赖斯(Tom Price)、安德鲁·F·普兹代尔(Andrew F. Puzder) 和托德·里基茨(Todd Ricketts)都要经历大致同样的审核。
“With the president-elect flouting a 40-year bipartisan tradition of disclosure and transparency, we think it’s more important than ever to ensure that senior officials across government aren’t operating under a different tax code than everyone else,” warned Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, which has upended its share of nominees.
“考虑到候任总统无视两党40年来一直延续的信息披露与透明传统，我认为，比以往任何时候都更加重要的是得确保整个政府的高层官员没有采取与其他人不同的税法，”参议院财政委员会(Senate Finance Committee)高层民主党人、俄勒冈参议员罗恩·怀登(Ron Wyden)说。这个委员会杯葛过不少提名人。
After nearly two centuries in which Senate reviews were cursory at best, that confirmation process has become increasingly arduous, regardless of party, and especially in the committees that require nominees’ tax returns.
Dean Zerbe, a former counsel to the Finance Committee, had some advice for Mr. Trump’s nominees facing that panel: Do not copy the president-elect’s defiance on disclosure. “The committee will say, ‘Bless your heart. Now send us your tax returns,’” Mr. Zerbe said.
Senate Democrats will be pressing in January to make the scrutiny even broader. They propose that all committees make nominees privately submit their three most recent federal tax returns. Three committees — Finance, Budget, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — already do so. Together they have responsibility for examining five cabinet-level officials before confirmation: the secretaries of Treasury, health and human services, and homeland security, and the president’s trade representative and budget director.
For Democrats, the tax-disclosure proposal is a way to underscore Mr. Trump’s refusal to release his returns, despite a four-decade tradition of presidential candidates doing so. More to the point, they will have ample opportunity to press home their contention that a number of his cabinet choices have wealth and backgrounds at odds with his populist pitch.
“He is building an administration that looks a whole lot like himself,” said Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the senior Democrat on the committee that will handle the nominations of Ms. DeVos, who married into the Amway fortune, as education secretary, and Mr. Puzder, a fast-food executive, to be labor secretary.
Those nominations will go to a committee that has not previously required nominees to file tax returns along with other financial disclosures. So will those of Mr. Tillerson, chief executive of Exxon Mobil; Mr. Ross, an investment titan chosen for secretary of commerce; Mr. Trump’s choice for deputy commerce secretary, Mr. Ricketts, the heir to the Ameritrade fortune; the pick for transportation secretary, Ms. Chao, a wealthy former labor secretary and the wife of the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky; Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon; and Ms. McMahon, a billionaire professional wrestling impresario, who was picked to lead the Small Business Administration.
上述提名将经过一个此前不曾要求提名人提交纳税申报表和披露其他财务信息的委员会审核。以下提名同样如此：埃克森美孚(Exxon Mobil)首席执行官蒂勒森的提名；被选中担任商务部长的投资界巨头罗斯；被特朗普任命为商务部副部长的Ameritrade企业继承人里基茨；富有的交通部长人选赵小兰——曾经担任过劳工部长，丈夫是参议院多数党领袖、肯塔基州参议员米奇·麦康奈尔(Mitch McConnell)；退休神经外科医生卡森；被选中领导小企业管理局(Small Business Administration)的职业摔跤经理人、亿万富翁麦克马洪。
The Finance Committee chairman, Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, has served notice that Trump nominees “will undergo the same bipartisan vetting process as the nominees from previous administrations,” and will not get a public hearing until the committee staff’s private examination — including a review of the nominees’ tax returns from the past three years — is complete.
参议院财政委员会主席、犹他州共和党参议员奥林·G·哈奇(Orrin G. Hatch)声称，特朗普的提名人“将经历和此前各届政府提名人同样的两党审核程序”，而且要在委员会工作人员的闭门考察结束后才会举行公开的听证会。这项考察包括查阅提名人过去三年的纳税申报表。
The Finance Committee considers nominees to three cabinet-level offices (Treasury, trade, and health and human services), while other committees have jurisdiction over one or two. So far Mr. Trump has made his selections for two of the three spots: Mr. Price, Republican of Georgia and an orthopedic surgeon, to be secretary of health and human services; and Mr. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner turned hedge fund operator and Hollywood financier, to be Treasury secretary.
For the very wealthy Mr. Mnuchin especially, the multipage questionnaire that the Finance Committee uses for its review illustrates the hoops a nominee must jump through to pass muster. It includes listing all jobs held since college, all business relationships, political activities and contributions, any legal or ethics issues, and a precise accounting of financial net worth for the nominee, a spouse and dependents. Nominees must answer whether they have paid all local, state and federal taxes, including those for household employees — a common tripwire.
To gauge potential conflicts of interest, the questionnaire also asks for “any investments, obligations, liabilities or other relationships” and any business dealings and lobbying activities in the past 10 years that could be problems, as well as for an explanation of how those potential conflicts will be resolved. Separate opinions are required from both the federal Office of Government Ethics and the ethics officer of the agency a nominee would lead.
为了判定是否存在潜在利益冲突，调查表也会询问提名人在过去十年里是否有“任何投资、债券、负债或其他利益关系”，以及是否有什么可能存在问题的商业交易和游说活动，还要求提名人解释自己会如何解决这些潜在冲突。此外，还需要分别取得政府道德事务办公室(Office of Government Ethics)和提名人将领导的机构的伦理官的意见。
Even as Mr. Trump resists a complete break with his far-flung businesses, a nominee before the Finance Committee must answer whether he or she, if confirmed, will “sever all connections with your present employers, business firms, associations or organizations.” If not, the nominee must provide details of how those connections will be handled.
The questionnaire must be notarized — providing false answers is potentially a federal crime — and the nominee’s tax returns attached. The documents are not made public, though information may come out in hearings or be leaked, often by senators. Neither Mr. Daschle’s nor Mr. Geithner’s tax returns were made public, but their offenses were widely aired.
When Senate aides discover problems, a nominee is given a choice: Agree to a public report on the infraction and pay all taxes, penalties and interest, or quietly withdraw.
“Those are the not-very-attractive options a nominee was given,” said Mark Patterson, a Democrat who was the staff director for the Finance Committee in the late 1990s and the chief of staff at the Treasury Department from 2009 to 2013.