It's not just the failure to pay back taxes on the use of a limousine as a gift
But now it's taking speaking fees from the health care industry and not paying taxes on consulting fees. By sticking with Daschle, Obama and Democrats will leave themselves open to charges of hypocrisy and lack of ethics. And the push for health care reform will be severely hampered by having and ethically-challenged secretary of HHS.
Democrats should be better than that. It was a mistake to pick Daschle in the first place. It's not the first time he, and his lobbyist wife, have shown an insensitivity to public perception and a blind eye to ethical concerns. Daschle needs to go.
Daschle made nearly $5.3 million in the last two years, records released Friday show, including $220,000 he received for giving speeches, many of them to outfits that stand to gain or lose millions of dollars from the work he would do once confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services.
For instance, the Health Industry Distributors Association plunked down $14,000 to land the former Senate Democratic leader in March 2008. The association, which represents medical products distributors, boasts on its website that Daschle met with it after he was nominated to discuss "the impact an Obama administration will have on the industry."
This week, the group began openly lobbying him, sending him a letter urging him to rescind a rule requiring competitive bidding of Medicare contracts.
Another organization, America’s Health Insurance Plans, paid $20,000 for a Daschle speaking appearance in February 2007. It represents health insurance companies, which under Obama’s plan would be barred from denying coverage on the basis of health or age.
There was a $12,000 talk to GE Healthcare in August, a $20,000 lecture in January to Premier, Inc., a health care consulting firm, and a pair of $18,000 speeches this year to different hospital systems, among other paid appearances before health care groups.
The report indicates that Daschle's failure to pay more than $101,000 taxes on the car and driver a wealthy friend let him use from 2005 through 2007 is not the only tax issue the former Senate Majority Leader has been dealing with since his December nomination prompted a more thorough examination of his income tax returns.
Mr. Daschle also didn't report $83,333 in consulting income in 2007.
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The Finance Committee staff still is reviewing whether travel and entertainment services provided Tom and Linda Daschle by EduCap, Inc., Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, Academy Achievement, and Loan to Learn should be reported as income. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Daschle made use of the jet belonging to EduCap, a non-profit student loan organization.
Daschle hid the tax info from the Obama vetting team.
President Obama’s choice for health secretary, Tom Daschle, was aware as early as last June that he might have to pay back taxes for the use of a car and driver provided by a private equity firm, but did not inform the Obama transition team until weeks after Mr. Obama named him to the health secretary’s post, senior administration officials said Saturday.