Feb 2, 2009

Deja Daschle

In the movie Groundhog Day, actor Bill Murray is forced to relive the same day over and over. This weekend, Americans could sympathize, waking to the drama that yet another one of President Obama's Cabinet picks neglected to pay his taxes. This time, the offender is Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Tom Daschle, a former senator whose confirmation many Democrats took for granted. ABC News broke the story this weekend that the nominee outdid the Treasury Secretary Tim Geither by owing $128,000 in back taxes. Among other things, Daschle "forgot" to report his car and chauffeur and mishandled some charity related gifts. In a letter to the Senate Finance Committee, where Daschle was slated to appear privately today, he writes that his "mistakes were unintentional." Sound familiar? Geither used the same defense before the Senate approved his nomination. Daschle's debacle raises to three the number of Obama candidates tainted by scandal. Gov. Bill Richardson surrendered his bid for Commerce Secretary when allegations of corruption surfaced.

While President Obama can't be blamed for his nominees' shortcomings, he should be faulted for not taking more care in vetting candidates for such influential positions. Conservatives already had their questions about the former Senate Majority Leader, who sat on the board of several health-related interests (Prime Bio Solutions and the Mayo Clinic) and raked in $205,200 as a paid speaker to health and pharmaceutical companies such as America's Health Insurance Plans, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, Prime Therapeutics, Ingalls Health System, and others. If the President can't enforce his "tougher ethics rules" on his own staff, his personnel problems will only multiply.

Additional Resources
Washington Post:
Daschle Owed Back Taxes That Exceeded $128,000
CNS News:
Daschle Faces New Questions Over $128,203 in Back Taxes



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