Treasury Choice Had DUI Arrest

Times Staff Writer

President Bush's nominee for Treasury secretary was arrested for drunk driving two decades ago but the charge was dismissed before trial, the White House acknowledged late Tuesday night.

The nominee, railroad executive John W. Snow, was also involved in a child support battle with his former wife, White House spokeswoman Mercy Viana said.

The disclosures came as the Senate Finance Committee posted Snow's background questionnaire on its Web site ( grassley/snowquest.pdf). The committee has scheduled a hearing on Snow's nomination for Tuesday. If it is approved in committee, the nomination will go to the Senate for confirmation.

Viana said the White House believes the disclosures will not derail the nomination. "These are old issues that don't have any bearing on the nomination," she said. "The White House was aware of those matters and the Senate was informed in the first draft of Mr. Snow's disclosure."

Snow, 63, is chairman and chief executive of CSX Corp., a transportation holding company that grew out of the Chesapeake & Ohio railroad system.

According to the documents, Snow was arrested for drunk driving in West Valley City, Utah, in 1982. Prosecutors decided to drop the case and Snow paid a $334 fine for making an unauthorized left turn. He said he has had no other arrests or convictions.

In the child-support case, Snow's ex-wife, Frederica S. Wheeler, sued him in Montgomery County, Md., Circuit Court in March 1988, alleging that he had failed to pay child support for their two sons. A court agreed that Snow owed money for 19 months of support and transportation costs for one son, Ian, and a settlement was reached in 1991.

"The issue was settled and Mr. Snow continues to believe he more than fulfilled his obligations," Viana said.

Snow was named to replace Paul H. O'Neill, who was forced out as Treasury secretary because he did not support the Bush administration's emphasis on tax cuts. Snow has been expected to be a more vigorous proponent of Bush's proposed $670-billion tax cut plan.

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