Senators critical of Jacob Lew, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget are asking the wrong questions about a bonus of nearly $1 million he received from his previous employer.
Lew left Citigroup, one of the financial giants that received government bailout money, to become a deputy secretary of state for Obama. His financial disclosure forms indicate he left Citigroup on Jan. 5, 2009.
But Citigroup paid Lew a $940,000 bonus on Jan. 15. Some senators have questioned how the company could pay him a bonus after he left.
Lew has said the questions are a non-issue. He did not actually leave Citigroup until Jan. 16, he says. The Jan. 5 entry on a financial disclosure form was a typographical error, he insists.
Fine. But why did Citigroup hand Lew a near-$1 million bonus knowing he was about to leave the company?
Could it be Citigroup executives, knowing Lew was on his way up in the Obama administration, were trying to curry favor with him and the president?
Should a company using taxpayers' money in a federal bailout be permitted to expend some of it that way?
Those questions, not queries concerning a typographical error, are what senators should be asking before they consider Lew for the OMB job.