Daschle, one of Obama's earliest and most ardent campaign supporters, paid $140,000 to the U.S. Treasury on Jan. 2 and about two days later informed the White House and the Senate Finance Committee, according to an account provided by his spokeswoman and confirmed by the Obama administration.
Although Daschle had known since June 2008 that he needed to correct his tax returns, he never expected the amount to be such a "jaw-dropping" sum and "thought it was being taken care of" by his accountant, spokeswoman Jenny Backus said.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said last night that Obama stands behind his friend and confidant. "The president believes nobody's perfect but that nobody's hiding anything," Gibbs said.
But that's not all. Daschle has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by health care-related groups which will be deeply impacted by decisions Daschle will make as HHS Secretary. Daschle had made over $5 million during the past four years, including $220,000 in payments from the health care industry. Connolly's report also notes that Daschle and his wife claimed $15,000 in charitable contributions on their tax returns which lacked proper documentation. "Daschle is the quintessential Washington story. You leave a powerful position, and you leverage it to make a fortune," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit government watchdog group. "He is not alone . . . [and] it would be hard for Obama to fill his administration without ever turning to someone like that. That said, these are the kind of Washington insiders that Obama campaigned against." And then there is this from a Washington insider and former aide to Daschle: "He's the gold standard for integrity in government," said former Daschle aide Andrea LaRue, now a partner in the government relations firm NVG. "The fact that he's done so much to fix the honest mistakes shouldn't be held against a man who has had such a long and distinguished career."