Bush loses security nominee over nanny

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The Independent US

Bernard Kerik, New York City's former top cop, has withdrawn his name from consideration as George Bush's new Homeland Security Secretary, a victim of the embarrassing "nanny problem" that has killed the nominations of other prominent officials.

While assembling paperwork for his Senate confirmation, Mr Kerik said he uncovered questions about the immigration status of a housekeeper-nanny that he employed. As Homeland Security Secretary, Mr Kerik would oversee the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Mr Kerik, who was nominated by President Bush a week ago to succeed Tom Ridge, had called the offer "the honour of a lifetime".

The bald, moustached former New York City police commissioner was among a small cadre of leaders who became the face of the response to the 11 September 2001, attacks, directing Manhattan's response alongside then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Most recently he has been working as a consultant for Giuliani Partners in Iraq, helping to rebuild Baghdad's police force.

Mr Kerik's nomination last week won early support in Republican and some Democratic quarters. But others wondered whether he had the management experience for the job and also questioned his recent windfall from the exercise of millions of dollars'-worth of stock options in Taser International, the stun gun company which has a lucrative relationship with the department.

His lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, said it had been his decision to withdraw. "It was Bernie Kerik who uncovered this on his own. He brought it to the White House," said Mr Tacopina, who described his client as "distraught".

The announcement came as a surprise to many government insiders. One official helping prepare him for confirmation said his decision had shocked senior Homeland Security figures. He said Mr Kerik had not yet filled out his ethics filings - which would detail sources of income - and that the FBI background investigation was still incomplete. But the only moderately troubling information uncovered so far was the news that he had earned $6.2m (£3.2m) by exercising stock options from Taser. As recently as Friday, the White House had defended Mr Kerik against questions of conflict of interest. Now President Bush must turn his attention to finding a replacement. (AP)