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Cornyn Not So Sure About Obama’s Commerce Pick

Support for former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk is eroding in Congress
as his tax problems emerge. Kirk is President Barack Obama's
nominee to be the U.S. Trade Representative, a position that requires
Senate confirmation. Sara Sciammacco has more from Washington.


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Republican John Cornyn defeated Kirk seven years ago for the Senate seat. Cornyn now sits on the Senate Finance Committee that found out Kirk owed ten thousand dollars in back taxes. Cornyn saw Kirk as a pro-trade Democrat that he could support, but now is reconsidering.

“I mean the public who look at this are left wondering, if high government officials won’t have to pay taxes, why should we? There may be an explanation for it. I’m eager to get that explanation, but I just think it sends a terrible message.”

The Senate review found Kirk put money he received for speaking engagements towards a scholarship fund at his alma mater, Austin College. He didn’t report the fees as income or deduct them as charitable donations. Questions about whether Kirk deducted too much on business expenses have been raised also. Those expenses included season tickets to Dallas Mavericks games. Kirk is a law partner at the same Houston firm as Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s husband.

“I am very supportive of Ron Kirk. I know him personally. I know that he is a person of integrity.”

Kirk has agreed to pay what he owes. White House officials have downplayed the tax issue, calling it minor, and say Kirk’s nomination is moving forward.

From Capitol News Connection, Sara Sciammacco KUHF Houston Public Radio

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