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 …