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.Of course, now that we have the Geithner precedent indicating that failure to pay taxes is no longer a disqualifier for a Democratic nominee. And Daschle has the added bonus of having been a Democratic senator up for confirmation in a Democratic-controlled Senate. I expect that we'll hear that this was just an honest mistake and that he's way too necessary to the President's plans to have the government take over even more of our health care system.
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 fundraiserLeo Hindery, the former president of the YES network (the Yankees' and Devils' broadcast network).
That same year he began his professional relationship with InterMedia 2005, Daschle began using the services of Hindery's car and driver.
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.
I guess Daschle is just one more of these old government hands who can't seem to figure out what they owe in their taxes. He, Geithner, and Charlie Rangel can get together and attend tax preparation workshops together.
The thing is that the Obama people must have known about this story before Obama nominated him. And just as with Geithner, they decided that it just didn't matter. They knew that the Senate Democrats would push the nominations through without much of a problem and that the media would go lightly with his nominees. Sure, there would be some stories and a few jokes on late night comedy shows, but such stories truly are speed bumps when they have to do with Democrats.