The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump’s Fed nominee Stephen Moore was found in contempt of court for failing to pay ex-wife more than $333,000

Stephen Moore, visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, appears during a Bloomberg Television interview March 22. President Donald Trump said he is nominating Moore, a longtime supporter of the president, for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Stephen Moore, President Trump’s planned nominee for the Federal Reserve Board, was found in contempt of court in 2013 for failing to pay his ex-wife more than $330,000 in alimony and child support, court documents show.

A court in Fairfax County, Va., ordered Stephen Moore to sell his home in order to pay his ex-wife, Allison Moore, the money he legally owed her but had failed to pay for months. Stephen Moore ended up paying $217,000, although only after the court sent several police officers, two real estate agents and a locksmith to his home to change the locks and prepare the property for sale, records show.

Allison Moore told the court the payment was enough that she no longer wanted to force her ex-husband to sell the home.

Stephen and Allison Moore, who have three children together, were married for two decades before divorcing in 2011. Allison Moore began divorce proceedings in 2010, and her divorce complaint said her then-husband opened a account and had a mistress.

Allison Moore says in the divorce filing that she was a good wife who “suffered emotional and psychological abuse by [Stephen Moore] throughout their marriage,” including having to flee the family’s home with their youngest child in fall 2009.

Stephen Moore signed a document saying he “admits all allegations” in his ex-wife’s divorce complaint.

The contempt of court was first reported by the Guardian. Allison Moore then petitioned to seal the records. The divorce records were unsealed Friday after an appeal by The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian.

Stephen Moore appeared on TV and radio shows this week accusing the media of trying to derail his nomination by dredging up a messy divorce and a $75,000 tax lien against him stemming from an error on his 2014 tax return. He says he and his ex-wife are now on better terms and that he has been working to settle the tax lien with the Internal Revenue Service, including overpaying his taxes in recent years.

“They don’t want to talk about my economic ideas; they want to assassinate my character. That’s what the left does,” Stephen Moore said Monday in an appearance on “The Ingraham Angle.” “I’m not backing down.”

Reached Friday via email, he told The Washington Post, “This payment issue was only settled six years ago.” He pointed to a statement his ex-wife made earlier this week that “we hope the media would respect our privacy. We remain on cordial terms.”

Numerous economists have raised concerns that Moore is unfit to serve on the Fed board because he doesn’t have much expertise in central banking, also arguing he could taint the Fed’s independence with his close ties to Trump. His seeming failures to follow the law have also raised some questions about his ability to be one of the nation’s top economic policymakers.

“He better pay ‘em!” Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) said after hearing of the potential nominee’s unpaid taxes.

Stephen Moore has repeatedly praised marriage and homes with a “devoted husband and wife” as the best cure against poverty and other social ills. He wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Examiner titled “Marriage, the surest economic stimulus,” in October 2014, about a year after the court had to compel him to pay his ex-wife child support and alimony.

Allison Moore says her husband slept with his mistress in the family home and stated at a graduation ceremony for one of their sons, “I have two women, and what’s really bad is when they fight over you."

Trump has been irate at the Fed for months and has blamed the central bank for any dips in the stock market or weak economic data. In the past week Trump announced his plans to nominate Moore and former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain to fill the two remaining seats on the Fed’s seven person board.

Both candidates are likely to face intense scrutiny in the Senate confirmation process. In addition to Moore’s past issues paying his ex-wife and his taxes, he also led the conservative advocacy group Club for Growth during a period when it was found to be in violation of Federal Election Commission regulations. The Club for Growth ultimately paid $350,000 to settle with the FEC.

Moore has a master’s in economics and spent much of his career as an economic commentator for various media outlets and a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Fed governors have traditionally been PhD economists, bankers or business leaders. Every word a governor says is closely monitored, as they set interest rates and many banking regulations.

Moore has called for higher interest rates while Democrats were in the White House and now advocates lower interest rates, which are typically used to stimulate the economy, even though he says the nation is thriving economically.

The White House has stood by Moore in recent days as details of his past have surfaced.

“President Trump has every right in the world to make his appointments,” Larry Kudlow, head of the National Economic Council, said Friday on Fox Business.


Trump plans to nominate Herman Cain to Fed board

Stephen Moore faces tough questions over his past views, a $75,000 tax lien and his Club for Growth tenure