Friday, May 26, 2006

Senate panel approves FEMA nominee despite tax concerns

Senate panel approves FEMA nominee despite tax concerns

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate panel on Thursday approved the nomination of R. David Paulison as chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency after he pledged to refile three years of tax returns to correct questionable travel deductions.

In a statement, Paulison said he was "pleased to have this matter raised and resolved" after the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this week found errors in his state and federal returns.

Paulison, who has served as acting FEMA director since September, said he relied on ultimately bad advice from his accountant in filing the returns from 2003 to 2005. It was not immediately known how much the deductions were worth.

"I will file as soon as possible the required federal and state returns and will pay all taxes, penalties or interest that may be required to immediately correct these issues," Paulison said in a letter Thursday to Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., who lead the committee.

That satisfied the panel's concerns as it wrapped up its review of Paulison's returns. It approved his nomination by voice vote and sent it to the full Senate for consideration.

"We do not believe it should disqualify him," Collins said. Lieberman said Paulison "answered the committee's questions on this matter completely."

The 2006 hurricane season begins next week, on June 1. Paulison has had a three-decade firefighting career, including a stint as chief of the Miami-Dade County fire department and head of the U.S. Fire Administration.

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