WASHINGTON—Sasha Obama testified before the Senate Committee on Finance this week after it was revealed that the second-grader had collected more than $136 in undisclosed allowance payments over the past year.
Sasha, who has been under fire from congressional leaders since her 2008 tax records were made public earlier this month, arrived at the Capitol to address accusations that she received dozens of federal dollars for completing the most basic of household chores.
"Ms. Obama, I've examined your records and what I've found sickens me," said ranking committee member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), addressing the 7-year-old as she shifted nervously in her chair. "How could you, during this time of economic turmoil—during this time of economic despair—accept nearly 50 cents for making your bed?"
Added Grassley, "Have you no shame at all?"
The hearing, which lasted more than six hours, began shortly after 9 a.m. when Sasha was led into the courtroom by her mother, shown to her seat before the assembled senators, and asked to clearly state her full name into the microphone before her. After requesting that a telephone book be placed on the first daughter's chair, a visibly irritated Sen. Grassley outlined his charges.
These included Sasha's failure to declare the weekly earnings she took in for helping to wash the dishes at night; several oral contracts the child entered into, whereby she received small stipends of taxpayer money for finishing all of her homework; and, perhaps most damning of all, the gifts she is said to have accepted from lawmakers, Cabinet members, and aunts and uncles visiting the White House on her birthday.
"Although it is not clear how your accountant manipulated the tax code to hide your exorbitant income, I can assure you that this committee will find any loopholes or nefarious shelters that were used," Senate finance chairman Max Baucus said. "Believe me, Ms. Obama, you will suffer the harshest punishment available under the law."
Baucus went on to say that he was disgusted by the second-grader's "ruthless greed, especially at a time when so many honest Americans have to go without." According to witnesses, the chairman repeatedly demanded that Sasha respond to the charges before her and refrain from trying to dodge questions by playing with her pigtails, leaving to use the bathroom, and asking what "personable accountafrility" means.
"The fact that you keep looking over to your mother to find out what to say suggests guilt on your part," Baucus said. "Well, young lady, I'm afraid you've run out of places to hide. The American people are finally going to get the explanation they deserve."
A report released by the watchdog group Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility criticized the first daughter's extravagant lifestyle, condemning her for traveling almost exclusively by limousines and residing in a plush 132-room mansion, all at the taxpayers' expense.
"This is a girl who held lavish tea parties while banks across the country were failing," CFR spokesperson Linda Carlson said. "At these galas, Ms. Obama would often entertain a number of her associates, including a so-called 'Mr. Fuzzles' and a 'Professor Peanut Butter.'"
Added Carlson, "We believe these were in fact code names for powerful Washington lobbyists."
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who pressured Sasha to enumerate her expenses, estimated that the first daughter spent more than 20 percent of her earnings on opulent gowns for her dolls and on sour candy. The remaining funds were reportedly funneled into a large piggy bank the first daughter kept secret.
While interrogating Sasha about her annual costs, the committee was also shocked to find that she did not contribute to food costs, transportation, or even rent.
"How do you explain that not a single tax record of yours exists prior to the year 2001?" said Hatch, who along with Finance Committee members approved† $67 million for an official investigation of the young lady's blatant excess. "Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. You will not walk away from this, Ms. Obama."
Still reeling from the controversy of having three of his Cabinet nominees investigated for owing back taxes, President Barack Obama attempted to distance himself from this latest situation.
"I'm sorry, but I barely know this woman," Obama said during his testimony before the committee. "Apart from a few conversations we've had in the past eight years, I'd say she's a complete stranger."