By Daniel WagnerWASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is two steps further away from filling the ranks of his senior staff. As markets quake and Treasury confronts the worst economic crisis in decades, Geithner has seen two people he had hoped to name to key posts withdraw from consideration. Annette Nazareth, a former senior staffer and commissioner with the Securities and Exchange Commission, made "a personal decision" to withdraw from the process, according to a person familiar with her decision. The decision followed more than a month of intense scrutiny of her taxes and multiple interviews. No tax problems or other issues arose during Nazareth's vetting, said the person, who requested anonymity because Geithner's choice of Nazareth as deputy Treasury secretary was never announced officially. "She did put a great deal of consideration into the potential of taking the position, and she concluded that she really enjoys what she's doing now," this person said. Though popular in policy circles, Nazareth has drawn criticism for her role in creating what some considered to be lax oversight of the banking industry. Nazareth, 53, a partner at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, couldn't be reached for comment. Treasury and White House officials said they would not comment. Geithner has been criticized for staffing his department too slowly as it grapples with a banking crisis that has crippled the economy. Uncertainty about Treasury staff also has unnerved financial markets. Five weeks into his tenure, he has yet to name a single top deputy or assistant secretary. This has left Treasury with too few people authorized to make decisions or represent the department in meetings with stakeholders.
After initially declining to comment, Treasury spokesman Isaac Baker emailed a statement saying 50 political appointees at the department already are hard at work. "Any rumors of vetting problems or delays in the process are simply not true," Baker's statement read. The department has been meeting with members of the financial services industry as it oversees the government's $700 billion financial bailout and other parts of President Barack Obama's financial stabilization plan. Geithner's choice for undersecretary of international affairs, Caroline Atkinson, also withdrew from consideration, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.