The Key Lime Truffle of Doom
Don't be sad for me; it was at my own request. I've kept this under wraps until now because I didn't want to violate the rules of the Obama Administration transition team, but I was told that I was a shoo-in for a cabinet post. All I had to do was pass their ethics review. (Well, also, get a haircut. But that part I could deal with easily.) Guess what: This blog did me in.
I think it started with Judge Kimba Wood and Zoe Baird and the nanny tax scandals. Baird failed to comply with a section of the Internal Revenue Code, Wood complied but did so on behalf of an undocumented immigrant. They were both shot down, leaving us with Janet Reno. All politicians know (or, as they say, "should have known") that if you have any tax "problems" in your past, forget about high public office. Most recently (yesterday being pretty recent) we saw Tom Daschle requesting the withdrawal of his nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Our new Treasury Secretary did manage to get an ethics pass. Even though he didn't pay certain taxes at the time they were due, he did pay them subsequently. As we know, candidates for SecTreas have a lot on their minds and the Administration claimed that we "needed his expertise." Besides, paying taxes is for Leona Helmsley.
When I got the call from the transition team, they asked if I had paid all my taxes. Of course, I thought I had done so and said as much. They initially took me at my word, had me fill out a lengthy form, and asked me to search my memory just in case there was something in my past that the Senate confirmation panel might dig up. I did.
The Peril of the Internet
Let this be a warning to all bloggers. Be careful what you write. I found two blogitems in which I condemned myself to the private sector by my own hand. I didn't wait for the Obama team to find them first, and I certainly didn't want some senator to excoriate me in stentorian tones from one of those cushy and expensive chairs they keep in committee rooms. (The chairs come from the business jets that nobody is allowed to buy any more, destroying thousands more jobs.) The tragedy of all this is: I could have gotten away with both these infractions. Easily. Almost nobody but I was aware of them at the time, and the one person I could have expected to remember would be, shall we say, reluctant to report them for really good reasons of his own. So I blew it and have nobody to blame but myself.
What was my awesome item of lush malfeasance? Look here. Or don't—the story is short enough. Sure, I was young, but so was Clinton when he did or didn't inhale. Sure, it's a youthful indiscretion, but look at the millions Mark Phelps may lose due to a recent one. What did I do? I bought a vacuum tube at one store and sold it to another for a profit. A taxable event. And then what did I do? <Fiction>I ran home and filled out an estimated tax form and ran with a tube of pennies to the IRS office.</Fiction> Of course I didn't. What I did was, I took the profit, bought more vacuum tubes at the first store and sold them to the second store at yet more profit! Did I account for this when I filed my taxes? I don't remember. And nobody else does either. It was a cash transaction that took place over 40 years ago. Even a fish wouldn't get into trouble if he kept his mouth shut!
OK, they might have let me slide on that one. But now I'm allegedly a grown up, and I have brazenly admitted to further un-Cabinet-like behavior. Look here. Or don't, but then you'll wonder why I think I might go to jail over a Key Lime Truffle. In the blogitem I explain how "the IRS has no way of taxing a box of chocolate." But they don't need to. All they need to do is prove that I redeemed my investment for a profit, which I did, and demand their fair share, plus the usual interest and penalties. But their fair share is gone like a Madoff million. I ate the truffle, and so possibly committed the crime of spoliation as well as debarring myself for life from high government office. It's far too late to remedy.
And so, tragically, I find myself cast out of the halls of power even before I entered them. Although I believe I'm qualified for the post, there is no shortage of talented citizens who might occupy it instead. The United States Department of Unintended Consequences will be fully staffed under the Obama administration and I wish them the best of luck. Which, when you think about it, is pretty ironic.
NP: "The Red Telephone" - Love