The AP is reporting that Bernard Kerik has withdrawn his nomination as Secretary of Homeland Security, citing a potential "nanny problem", similar to the ones that killed the nominations of Zoe Baird, Kimba Wood, and Linda Chavez. (Baird and Wood were Clinton nominees, and Chavez was a George W. Bush pick.) What caught my eye was this groundless swipe:
But the only moderately troubling information uncovered about Kerik so far had been news that Kerik had earned $6.2 million by exercising stock options he received from Taser International, which did lucrative business with the Homeland Security Department, [a Bush administration] official said.
Kerik was not involved with DHS at the time that the options were exercised; in fact, there was no indication that the position would be available, let alone offered to him.
This appears to be another attempt to smear the Bush administration by attempting to portray profits from private sector activities as rapacious greed (see Richard Cheney and his deferred compensation from Halliburton, see George W. Bush and his profits from the sale of the Texas Rangers; there are other examples). Unlike the Democratic Party politicians, who disappear into academia, the media, or NGO's during the interregnum between their administrations, the Republicans tend to enter the private sector, where they sometimes (gasp) MAKE MONEY from business deals. Kerik's background is military, he ran a police force, and he is a consultant to the Baghdad police. Undoubtedly, he was aware of Taser's products, and whether or not the company had growth potential.
Most of the fuss is over the fact that he has sold several milliion dollars worth of Taser International stock. most of it in the last month. It obviously didn't occur to the AP reporter to mention that Kerik would need to sell the stock to avoid a conflict of interest, since it is likely that DHS will continue to do business with Taser. It is similar to the firestorm surrounding Cheney and his Halliburton stock in the fall of 2000. Cheney was forced to sell his stock before the inaguration, but came under media scrutiny (pushed by the Democrats) when Halliburton stock dropped in value over the next few months.