Since President Trump said he wanted to nominate Stephen Moore to the open seat on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors in late March, Moore has been besieged by revelations about his personal life (all documented in public records) that threaten to derail his nomination. Moore’s recent troubles illustrate the importance of properly vetting appointments before they are announced and exposed to public scrutiny.
First, after Trump announced he wanted to appoint Moore, it was reported that Moore had a federal tax lien totaling $75,328.80 from the 2014 tax year entered against him in January 2018. Moore has since claimed that the tax lien is the result of a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over deductions he claimed for child support, which he claims should only have resulted in approximately $6,000 in unpaid taxes. Meanwhile the IRS invalidated all of his deductions, declared his 2014 return as “fraudulent” over the improper deduction, then imposed penalties and fees that brought Moore’s total tax liability to the $75,328.80 reported on the tax lien. Moore’s explanation for the tax lien was reported after the original story broke. Proper vetting would have uncovered the lien and allowed him to prepare a response to initial questions in advance.
Then, on Monday, the Guardian newspaper reported on and published Moore’s 2011 divorce order from his ex-wife, Allison M. Moore, which found that Moore was in contempt of court in March 2013 for having failed to pay over $330,000 in alimony and child support payments, as well as attorney’s fees as well as a one-time court-related fee. The judge ordered the sale of Moore’s house to satisfy the debt. Moore’s ex-wife filed a petition with the court to halt the forced sale of the home after Moore paid $217,000 toward the debt.
In the latest wrinkle in the case this week, Moore’s ex-wife petitioned – and a judge temporarily granted –that the divorce record be sealed, after it was published by the Guardian newspaper. This provides yet another cautionary tale of the importance of vetting to identify potentially adverse or compromising records before they become of interest to the press and public. In this case, while sealing their divorce record is in fact a proactive step that Moore and his ex-wife can take to protect their privacy, the time to have the records sealed was before they’d already been published.