Senate Committee to Vote on Sebelius Nomination

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the president's nominee for health and human services secretary, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who came under fire this week for misstating the amount in political contributions she has received from a controversial late-term abortion doctor.

The Senate panel is expected to clear Sebelius' nomination and send it to the full Senate for confirmation.

Although she received a generally positive reception from lawmakers during Senate panel hearings two weeks ago, Sebelius is still facing criticism from pro-life groups for underreporting how much money she received from George Tiller, who was acquitted last month of charges of illegal abortions but is now under investigation by the state medical board.

Sebelius initially reported in a written statement to the Finance Committee that she received $12,450 from 1994 to 2001 from Tiller, but denied any additional contributions since then. She later admitted that she received a total of $36,900 from Tiller, after the discrepancy was exposed in campaign finance documents circulated by Operation Rescue, a Kansas-based pro-life activist group, and then reported by The Associated Press.

"I regret that there was an inadvertent omission in my previous response to this question," Sebelius wrote in an amended response Tuesday to the Finance Committee. "The oversight led to an incomplete listing of certain PAC (political action committee) contributions as well as contributions from Dr. Tiller's business."

Earlier this month, Sebelius said that she paid nearly $8,000 in three years worth of back taxes and interest because of improper deductions.

Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top ranking Republican of the Senate Finance Committee, on Friday weighed in on Sebelius' omission, saying it has "raised a lot of concern among pro-life people."

"I'd have to say this bombshell about her not reporting all of her income from this one doctor, this one abortion doctor, you know, I think that at the grassroots is raising some additional questions that are already compounded by her tax issue," Grassley told CQ Politics.

This week, Operation Rescue released a copy of a letter signed by Tiller, stating that he personally contributed $200,000 to ProKanDo, a political action committee dedicated to defeating Sebelius' opponent in the 2002 Kansas gubernatorial race.

"Sebelius just can't seem to tell the truth about her connections with Tiller," said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue. "Her continued deception in this matter makes her unfit to serve in any political capacity, much less as the head of HHS, where she will have the ability to influence abortion policy."

On Sunday, Tony Perkins of The Family Research Council, will hold a news conference discussing his opposition to Sebelius' nomination. The event will be held across the street from Tiller's abortion clinic.

"Her track record before the Senate is inviting serious questions about her integrity," Perkins said in a e-mail to supporters this week. "Now Americans are left wondering-what else is hiding in her closet? What other political contributions may have influenced her decisions as governor?"

Obama originally nominated former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle for the HHS post but the Democratic lawmaker withdrew last month after disclosing that he had made a mistake on his tax records and failed to pay over $140,000 back in taxes and penalties.