Timothy Giethner can be be treasury secretary and not pay his taxes. Now, too, apparently Tom Daschle gets to be HHS Secretary even though he had to pay back taxes.
Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader who President Obama has tapped to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, was paid $220,000 to give speeches to outfits that have a vested interest in the result the work he would do once confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Among the companies and groups paying thousands of dollars a pop to book Daschle were some that stand to gain or lose the most depending on the results of Obama’s efforts to enact universal health.
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 healthcare 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.
He also became an adviser to the law and lobbying firm Alston & Bird, which paid him $2.1 million in wages last year and also provided him a 401k and profit sharing plan worth between $100,000 and $250,000, according to the report.
In his three years at the firm, it’s earned more than $16 million lobbying on behalf of some of the health care industry’s most powerful interests before the department he’s in line to lead. Though Daschle, himself, did not register to lobby for the firm, he has advised the firm’s clients on health care issues, according to the firm’s website.