WASHINGTON – The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved David Kautter. President Trump's nominee for Treasury assistant secretary for tax policy on Thursday, sending it to the full Senate for a vote.
Democrats initially raised concerns about Kautter because he served as director of national tax for Ernst & Young from 2000 to January 2010 when the firm marketed and set up tax shelters to the wealthy.
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the committee, pointed out at a Tuesday hearing on Kautter’s nomination that EY employees “were convicted of fraud and obstruction for covering it up.’’ The firm eventually agreed to pay more than $100 million to settle the charges with the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service.
Kautter said he had no direct role in the wrongdoing but agreed with his Democratic critics that he could have taken a more proactive stance at EY.
Wyden said Thursday that, since Tuesday’s hearing, he’s talked to Kautter several times and that the nominee has responded to additional questions in writing.
“Mr. Kautter committed to me that he would maintain the highest level of ethical and professional standards if he is confirmed,’’ Wyden said. “We all know actions speak louder than words and Mr. Kautter will be judged by his actions going forward."
Kautter is in line to serve as a key player in the Trump administration’s effort to enact comprehensive tax reform. He also is key to the approval process for any tax rules going through the pipeline at Treasury and the IRS.
But a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in an email that no vote in the full Senate has not been scheduled yet.
Kautter currently leads the Washington national tax group for RMS U.S. which he joined in January 2015 after serving for just over four years as managing director at the Kogod Tax Center at American University’s Kogod School of Business. He was at EY before that.