Homeland Security candidate lacks character

Freedom Newspapers

As Mickey Kaus so aptly put it on his recent Web log, whenever a nominee for an important post readily admits that he has an “illegal nanny,” it’s certainly a sign there are far more problems lurking behind the surface. The nanny excuse, he writes, is the modern version of leaving politics to “spend more time with my family.”

Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who abruptly withdrew his nomination last week to serve as head of the Department of Homeland Security, said he, too, had a nanny problem. And a tax problem related to the nanny, and a problem with apparently lying to the administration about the matter.

But even the tax and honesty issues pale in comparison to what the major news outlets have been reporting about this brusque, shoot-from-the-hip cop with a compelling rags-to-riches story.

The New York Times detailed “a web of relationships Mr. Kerik developed with officials of a New Jersey construction company long suspected by New York authorities of connections to organized crime.”

Although now a multimillionaire, “just five years ago he was in financial trouble over a condominium he owned in New Jersey,” reported Newsweek. “More serious trouble than anyone realized: Newsweek has discovered that a New Jersey judge in 1998 had issued an arrest warrant as part of a convoluted series of lawsuits relating to unpaid bills on his condo.”

These are all bad signs for a top cop. So, too, are questions about how he gained a $6 million profit from a stun-gun manufacturer that does business with the government. Kerik made that money after leaving his job as New York commissioner, but never invested any of his own money in the company, according to Newsweek.

The New York Daily News on Monday reported that Kerik “conducted two extramarital affairs simultaneously,” including one with famed New York book publisher Judith Regan. Before you chalk this up to personal indiscretions, consider what Richard Cohen of The Washington Post reported in his recent column. In 2001, while Kerik was New York City commissioner, “homicide detectives fanned out all over New York City,” going into homes, and interrogating and fingerprinting suspects because Regan “was missing some items.”

It is part of a pattern, Cohen argued. When Kerik handled investigations for a hospital in Saudi Arabia, “he allegedly abused his authority to delve into the private lives of women with whom his boss was romantically involved.”

Thank goodness for the illegal nanny. The nation will now be spared a Homeland Security director with little apparent concern about civil liberties or personal character.