Archive for the ‘limo’ Category

Daschle Symbol Of What’s Wrong With Washington

February 4, 2009

The withdrawal of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle from consideration as secretary of health and human services follows a long tradition of “blood in the water” politics in a city infested with bipartisan sharks. But it isn’t the sharks’ fault. Politicians keep tossing them food.

The sense of entitlement among the powerful and privileged in both parties makes some people think they can live in an exclusive political neighborhood whose access is denied to others.

It was the late hotel magnate Leona Helmsley who uttered the immortal words, “We don’t pay taxes; only the little people pay taxes.” Mrs. Helmsley apparently has been reincarnated in the persons of now Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Mr. Daschle.

By Cal Thomas
The Washington Times

Mr. Geithner “forgot” to pay “only” $43,000 in back taxes and penalties. He paid the Internal Revenue Service shortly before his confirmation hearings when the “oversight” was brought to his attention.

Mr. Daschle stiffed the IRS for $128,000 (plus $12,000 interest and penalties), paying up just six days before his first Senate confirmation hearing. (He agreed to a Senate Finance Committee request to pay another $6,000 in Medicare on additional income related to a car and driver. More about that in a moment.) According to The Washington Post, Mr. Daschle waited nearly a month after his nomination before telling Barack Obama of his tax tardiness.

Mr. Daschle’s rationale again exposes what is wrong with Washington. Recall President Obama’s vow to “change the culture of Washington.” With Mr. Geithner and Mr. Daschle (and prior to them, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who withdrew his nomination for commerce secretary under pressure of a federal investigation into how his political donors landed a lucrative transportation contract), we are still waiting for “change we can believe in.”

When Mr. Daschle was Senate majority leader, one of his perks was a car and driver paid for by taxpayers. When he lost his re-election bid in 2004, Mr. Daschle was given a car and driver by the head of a private equity firm headed by entrepreneur and longtime Democratic Party donor, Leo J. Hindery Jr., according to The Post, which cites a confidential draft report prepared by Senate Finance Committee staff.

Naturally, one who had been squired around when he was a senator and public servant shouldn’t be expected to drive himself and search for his own parking spot, or worse, take public transportation. Once someone has enjoyed the power and perks of the Senate, it is difficult to come down to where the “little people” live. Perhaps some counseling would have helped.

Mr. Daschle supposedly didn’t know a luxury car service is considered income if provided by someone else. How could he not know since for many years he participated in writing – or at least voting on – tax laws the rest of us must abide by or face fines and possibly prison. Mr. Daschle also made “questionable” charitable contributions totaling $15,000, according to the Finance Committee report, which additionally lists unreported consulting fees. Not reporting income raises red flags with the IRS.

It’s not that Mr. Daschle couldn’t afford the taxes. Since leaving office, according to documents filed with the Office of Government Ethics (now there’s a contradiction), Mr. Daschle earned $2.1 million from the law firm of Alston and Bird and, since he left the Senate in 2005, $1 million a year from Mr. Hindery’s private equity firm, InterMedia Advisors. He also made money speaking to and serving on the boards of health-care organizations he would have regulated as HHS secretary.

Does anyone else see a potential conflict of interest?

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/200
9/feb/04/our-patience-taxed/

Obama’s HHS Secretary Nominee Daschle Faces Tax Questions

January 31, 2009

ABC News has learned that the nomination of former Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., to be President Obama’s secretary of health and human services has hit a traffic snarl on its way through the Senate Finance Committee.

By Jake Tapper
ABC News

The controversy deals with a car and driver lent to Daschle by a wealthy Democratic friend — a chauffeur service the former senator used for years without declaring it on his taxes.

It remains an open question as to whether this is a “speed bump,” as a Democratic Senate ally of Daschle put it, or something more damaging.

After being defeated in his 2004 re-election campaign to the Senate, Daschle in 2005 became a consultant and chairman of the executive advisory board at InterMedia Advisors.

Based in New York City, InterMedia Advisors is a private equity firm founded in part by longtime Daschle friend and Democratic fundraiser Leo Hindery, the former president of the YES network (the New York Yankees’ and New Jersey Devils’ cable television channel).

That same year he began his professional relationship with InterMedia, Daschle began using the services of Hindery’s car and driver.

Thomas A. Daschle was picked to head Health and Human Services.

Thomas A. Daschle was picked to head Health and Human Services. (By Mark Wilson — Getty Images)

The Cadillac and driver were never part of Daschle’s official compensation package at InterMedia, but Mr. Daschle — who as Senate majority leader enjoyed the use of a car and driver at taxpayer expense — didn’t declare their services on his income taxes, as tax laws require.

During the vetting process to become HHS secretary, Daschle corrected the tax violation, voluntarily paying $101,943 in back taxes plus interest, working with his accountant to amend his tax returns for 2005 through 2007.

(Daschle reimbursed the IRS $31,462 in taxes and interest for tax year 2005; $35,546 for 2006; and $34,935 for 2007, a Daschle spokesperson said, adding that Daschle had asked his accountant to look into the tax implications of the car and driver five months before Obama won the presidency.)

The Daschle spokesperson told ABC News that the senator, facing questions from the committee, has said “he deeply regretted his mistake. When he realized it was a mistake he corrected it rapidly.”

Read the rest:
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch
/2009/01/bumps-in-the-ro.html

The Washington Post said:

Daschle, a former Senate majority leader, and his accountant discovered the error regarding the luxury car service and reported it to the committee after his vetting was completed.

According to the Senate committee, Daschle used the car 80 percent of the time for personal purposes. That service was worth more than $255,000 in unreported income, according to the committee report.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/c
ontent/article/2009/01/30/AR2009013
003793.html?hpid=topnews

Related at CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITIC
S/01/30/daschle.taxes/index.html