Tax issues and lobbyist links strike another Obama cabinet pick


Tom Daschle, tapped to be President Obama’s health czar, was paid more than $200,000 by the health-care industry in the past two years, according to documents obtained by Politico.

The former Senate majority leader, who gave speeches to firms and groups with a vested-interest in the administration’s upcoming health reform, collected the checks as part of a $5 million windfall after he lost reelection to his South Dakota seat.

This weekend, Daschle’s nomination to be secretary of Health and Human Services became embroiled in controversy over the last-minute revelation that he had only recently paid long-overdue taxes.

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 speaking fees were detailed in a financial disclosure statement released Friday, which showed that Daschle pulled down a total of more than $500,000 from the speaking circuit in the last two years, and $5.3 million in overall income.

That includes more than $2 million in consulting fees from InterMedia Advisors, a private equity firm.

Daschle, who represented South Dakota in the Senate for three terms, initially failed to pay taxes on the free use of a car and driver that had been provided to him by InterMedia’s founder, high-rolling Democratic donor Leo Hindery Jr., according to the New York Times. It reported that Daschle this month paid more than $100,000 in back taxes and filed amended tax returns.

Uh. Well, at least he wasn’t a “registered” lobbyist, so I guess that makes this ok, per Team Obama’s previously admitted “limits” on lobbyist influence both in his campaign, and his administration, a limit he’s apparently found works better in theory rather than actual practice

Comments editor plugin – another update

The investigation into why the comments editor no longer works in IE has produced concrete results, via the very patient steveegg. He spent a lot of time tonight trying to figure out what the problem was, and as it turns out, the comments editor doesn’t work because it’s clashing with another plugin I have called “Image Rotator Pro” which allows me to have rotating header images at my scheduling. If I disable that plugin, the comments editor works in IE again, but at the same time my (Stevie Nicks? *grin*) header disappears.

I’ve posted a question in the plugin creator’s support forum. Maybe he’ll have an answer for me as to weather or not it can be tweaked so as to work in concert with the comments editor. It all has something to do with something called “AJAX” … don’t ask me what that means! I leave that stuff to the experts.

Thanks again to steve for narrowing down the problem. Now, hopefully, we’ll have a resolution soon that will result in the beloved comments editor plugin being fully functional again.

My responses to select spam email headlines

I never respond to spam email, but tonight, I thought I’d give it a try – after all, they can’t ALL mean nasty and vulgar things, can they? I mean, the email headlines may really not mean what we think it does. Examples:

“Get lucky every night.”
Yeah? You mean like with the lottery or bingo? I’m game! What do I need to do?

“Satisfy her all night long.”
Does that mean he’ll finally start wearing nasal strips? Excellent! Now I can finally get some sleep.

Ooooh! Could this finally be the $1,000,000 anonymous PayPal donation I’ve been dreaming about?

“Make her notice you in a whole new way.”
Wha? You mean flowers will be on my kitchen table when I get home, and the dishes washed and put away, and clothes folded, and a glass of wine waiting? Believe me, I’ll notice that! :D

“Look younger in five minutes!”
Save it! I already know the wonders that Blanche DuBois-style lighting will do for woman’s face, thank you veruh much. ;;)

“Get rid of junk email forever.
Ummm …


Any you’d like to add?