Tom Daschle’s confirmation as H.H.S. Secretary appears to be in doubt with the revelation yesterday of tax problems. Daschle has filed amended tax returns for three years that have added $128,000 to his tax liability. His problems are in three separate areas:
1) Failure to list as income the cash value of a driving service provided to him free of charge by a company he provided consulting services for.
2) Failure to report consulting income of over $83,000 in 2007. This has been blamed on a “clerical error” by the firm that employed Daschle.
3) Insufficient documentation for $15,000 in charitable donations over a three year period. The Daschle’s donated $276,000 to charity over that period.
Daschle has paid the back taxes and another $12,000 in interest and penalties.
The President appears to be still behind Daschle, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who succeeded Daschle as the Democratic Leader in the Senate, issued a strong statement of support. From the Washington Post:
In a statement last night, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said: “Senator Daschle brought these issues to the Finance Committee’s attention when he submitted his nomination forms, and we are confident the committee is going to schedule a hearing for him very soon and he will be confirmed.”
“He has a long and distinguished career and record in public service and is the best person to help reform health care in this country,” Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), said in a statement. “Sen. Reid looks forward to a swift hearing and is confident Daschle will be confirmed.”
Daschle may well have the strength to be confirmed in spite of these troubles, but it will be harder for him than it was for Tim Geithner. At least his potential portfolio does not include the I.R.S.