Corruption, Democrat Style

As a life-long politician, Tom Daschle never earned much money. But he retired from the Senate, after being defeated for re-election by John Thune, as a multimillionaire. He retired to Georgetown, of course, not to South Dakota. This happens a lot in Washington, and Daschle’s case is pretty typical.

His wife Linda is or was a lobbyist, and she was the one who reported the family’s income. (This is inference, since Daschle consistently chose not to make his tax returns public.) Linda Daschle made millions “lobbying” on behalf of various corporate interests. There was no conflict of interest, the Democrats assured us, because Linda Daschle only “lobbied” the House of Representatives, not the Senate, where her husband was either the Majority or the Minority Leader for much of his career.

But wait! If a company hired Linda to lobby House members, the check they wrote went straight into the Senate Majority Leader’s joint checking account. It would have been a felony to write the check to Tom in exchange for political services, but a check to Linda, that went into the same bank account? No problem! She wasn’t lobbying the Senate! So Tom Daschle became a multimillionaire.

Another thing that happens a lot in Washington is that when Democrats get appointed to visible, high-ranking positions in the Executive Branch, they suddenly discover that they owe a lot more money in taxes. We saw that with Tim Geithner. The latest example is Daschle, Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services:

Former Sen. Tom Daschle, picked by President Barack Obama to lead the administration’s health reform efforts, recently filed amended tax returns to report $128,203 in unpaid taxes and $11,964 in interest, according to a Senate document obtained by The Associated Press.

The White House acknowledged Friday that “some tax issues” had emerged in connection with the nomination, but a spokesman said the president is confident the former Senate Democratic leader will be confirmed as the new health secretary.

Daschle filed amended tax returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007 to reflect additional income for consulting work, the use of a car service and reductions in charitable contribution deductions. He filed the returns after the announcement that Obama intended to nominate him to head the Health and Human Services Department.

The principal issues that Daschle is now rectifying with the IRS stem from his relationship with InterMedia Advisors of Englewood, Colo. Daschle is a limited partner and chairman of that firm’s executive advisory board, and is also an independent consultant to InterMedia Advisors LLP of New York City.

InterMedia Advisors was founded by Leo Hindery, who, as we noted here, was once the CEO of Global Crossing, a company that enriched a number of prominent Democrats, including Terry McAuliffe, but also turned into one of the biggest bankruptcies in the history of American business, in which creditors and innocent investors lost many millions of dollars. Hindery subsequently ran for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, served on the Board of Advisors of left-wing Democracy Radio, and was awarded the “Oates-Shrum Leadership Award of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.” In his spare time, he’s been funneling cash to Daschle.

Is Tom Daschle a crook, or is it fairer to think of him as a low-level tool of various big-time crooks who play the Washington game by the corrupt rules of the Democratic Party? Either way, it is hard to think of a worse person to put in charge of “reforming” the nation’s health care system.

Still, there is always a silver lining. One good thing about electing a Democrat as President is that, as he nominates fellow Democrats to senior positions in the Executive Branch, millions of dollars in unpaid tax liabilities come to light and are belatedly paid to the IRS, with interest. It is, perhaps, the most tangible advantage of electing Democrats to office.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has more.

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