Bernard Kerik, former New York police commissioner and an ex-military man, withdrew his nomination as secretary of homeland security in a call to Bush that surprised the president and his administration.

Kerik says he withdrew himself from consideration because while filling out paperwork necessary for Senate confirmation he discovered that a woman he employed as a nanny and housekeeper might have been an illegal alien and that the proper taxes were not paid during part of her employment.

“I am convinced that, for personal reasons, moving forward would not be in the best interests of your administration, the Department of Homeland Security, or the American people,” Kerik wrote in a letter to President Bush.

Several people nominated for top federal positions have suffered from the “nanny problem” in past years, causing them to withdraw themselves from consideration.

Kerik says he wanted to prevent public scrutiny of his personal affairs from becoming “a significant and unnecessary distraction to the vital efforts of the Department of Homeland Security.”

The president has yet to name a new nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security. The current secretary, Tom Ridge, has said he will stay on in the position until a new successor is confirmed.

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