WASHINGTON – President Bush's nominee for treasury secretary, John Snow, was arrested for drunken driving in 1982 and was involved in a child-support dispute with his ex-wife, according to information released late Tuesday by the Senate committee handling his nomination.
The Bush administration learned about both issues as part of its vetting process of Snow's nomination and informed the Senate, White House officials said. President Bush stands by his nominee, press secretary Ari Fleischer said.
"It's not relevant to his duties. We support him," Fleischer said.
The revelations came as part of a questionnaire the Senate Finance Committee made public late Tuesday. The committee said it would hold a hearing on Snow's nomination on Jan. 28.
Reached late Tuesday night, Snow spokesman Dan Murphy said Snow would not have any further response.
"This is a personal issue and the White House is the best place for comment," Murphy said.
In the questionnaire provided to the Senate committee, Snow was asked whether he had ever been charged with a criminal offense.
He replied, "In 1982 I was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in West Valley City, Utah, Salt Lake City County, Utah. I was never convicted of that charge and the prosecuting attorney voluntarily dismissed the charge before trial."
Snow said that "in connection with this incident, I paid a $334.00 fine for making an unauthorized left turn with my automobile. I have never been charged with or convicted of any other offense."
In an addendum to the questionnaire, Snow disclosed that his ex-wife, Frederica Wheeler, sued him in Montgomery County, Md., in March 1988, alleging that he failed to pay child support and other costs associated with the care of his two sons.
Snow said he denied the charges, but the court found Snow failed to pay child support for his son Ian over a 19-month period, and failed to pay Ian's transportation and allowance costs at college.
Snow told the committee that he and his ex-wife settled the dispute in January 1991 "to spare the family the difficulty of a trial."
Fleischer noted that the DUI charges had been dismissed.
On the child-support issue, Fleischer said that the claim from Snow's ex-wife came even though the child had lived with Snow and Snow believed he had fulfilled all the obligations under the agreement.
Bush last month forced out Paul O'Neill as treasury secretary in a shakeup of his economic team and chose Snow, the head of CSX Corp., the freight railroad company, to be replace him.
The post requires Senate confirmation. The hearing is expected to last one day, and Snow is the only scheduled witness.
Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols told reporters that Snow has been receiving briefings this month from Treasury officials about issues currently facing the department. However, Snow cannot participate in any Treasury meetings until he wins Senate confirmation.
Democrats have said they plan to use Snow's confirmation hearing as a forum to examine Bush's $674 billion economic stimulus plan, which critics contend contains too many tax breaks for the wealthy.