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What will the Bend Over Republicans do with tax cheat Tom Daschle?

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By Michelle Malkin  •  January 31, 2009 05:06 AM

Before we get to tax cheat Tom Daschle, let’s recall the names of the Bend Over Republicans who pooh-poohed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s tax troubles and accused critics of “thinking in small political terms.”

On the Senate Finance Committee, B.O. Republicans Mike Crapo, Orrin Hatch, John Cornyn, Olympia Snowe and John Ensign all determined that Geithner’s “tax goofs” worth $43,000 did not disqualify him from the job of overseeing everyone else’s taxes.

On Jan. 26, when the full Senate voted, 10 B.O. Republicans cast their votes in the affirmative for the serial tax evader and bailout failout architect. Those 10 B.O. Republicans were:

Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Ensign (R-NV)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Voinovich (R-OH)

What, pray tell, will these apologists for tax evasion do with Tom Daschle? Like Geithner, Daschle pleads ignorance – and only paid back taxes and interest during the vetting process for his Health and Human Services Secretary nomination:

ABC News has learned that the nomination of former Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., to be President Obama’s secretary of health and human services has hit a traffic snarl on its way through the Senate Finance Committee.

The controversy deals with a car and driver lent to Daschle by a wealthy Democratic friend — a chauffeur service the former senator used for years without declaring it on his taxes.

It remains an open question as to whether this is a “speed bump,” as a Democratic Senate ally of Daschle put it, or something more damaging.

After being defeated in his 2004 re-election campaign to the Senate, Daschle in 2005 became a consultant and chairman of the executive advisory board at InterMedia Advisors.

Based in New York City, InterMedia Advisors is a private equity firm founded in part by longtime Daschle friend and Democratic fundraiser Leo Hindery, the former president of the YES network (the New York Yankees’ and New Jersey Devils’ cable television channel).

That same year he began his professional relationship with InterMedia, Daschle began using the services of Hindery’s car and driver.

The Cadillac and driver were never part of Daschle’s official compensation package at InterMedia, but Mr. Daschle — who as Senate majority leader enjoyed the use of a car and driver at taxpayer expense — didn’t declare their services on his income taxes, as tax laws require.

During the vetting process to become HHS secretary, Daschle corrected the tax violation, voluntarily paying $101,943 in back taxes plus interest, working with his accountant to amend his tax returns for 2005 through 2007.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Late Friday night, ABC News obtained the Senate Finance Committee report on Daschle, which revealed even more unreported income:

Mr. Daschle also didn’t report $83,333 in consulting income in 2007.

The Senate Finance Committee Report also notes that during the vetting process, President Obama’s Transition Team “identified certain donations that did not qualify as charitable deductions because they were not paid to qualifying organizations. Daschle adjusted his contribution deductions on his amended returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007 to remove these amounts and add additional contributions.” This adjustment meant a reduction in the amount he contributed to charitable foundations of $14,963 from 2005 through 2007.

With the unreported income from the use of a car service in the amounts of $73,031 in 2005, $89,129 in 2006 and $93,096 in 2007; the unreported consulting income of $83,333 in 2007; and the adjusted reductions in charitable contributions, Daschle adds a total of $353,552 in additional income and reduced donations, meaning an additional tax payment of $128,203, in addition to $11,964 in interest.

And then there’s the issue of his travel with an education-loan provider — reported by the WSJ last week:

In part, some Finance Committee staff members are looking at Mr. Daschle’s interaction with EduCap Inc., a nonprofit lender that has faced Internal Revenue Service scrutiny for its lending practices and faces a separate Finance Committee probe into what some on the committee believe to be abuses of its status as a charity. Attempts to get comment from EduCap were unsuccessful.

According to Finance Committee aides, EduCap flew Mr. Daschle on its corporate jet several times, including flights to vacation spots. News of such flights first emerged in 2007, after Mr. Daschle had left the Senate.

The Finance Committee staff is trying to determine whether those flights had a legitimate charitable purpose and whether Mr. Daschle’s presence on board could be justified as a charity project. In that sense, the inquiry may have more to do with EduCap’s tax status than Mr. Daschle’s.

Daschle aides have acknowledged he was on some flights but said there was nothing improper about the trips.

Finance Committee aides are also looking at past tax returns, whose complexity has slowed the vetting process. Mr. Daschle and his wife have numerous business interests. Other people familiar with the nomination say one avenue of inquiry is how he characterized charitable deductions on his income tax returns.

But Daschle’s “naive” mistakes make him more qualified to hold a Cabinet position, remember? That’s the reasoning embraced by the Lindsay Graham wing of the Republican Party. Now, the B.O. Republicans will have to 1) twist themselves in pretzels to find a logical explanation for opposing this new tax cheat with liabilities three times Geithner’s; or 2) assume the downward dog yoga position, approve yet another corrupted Obama nominee, and meekly dub him indispensible and “uniquely qualified” to raise the taxes of other Americans after failing to pay his own.

Screw up, move up. It’s the bipartisan Washington way.

***

John Hinderaker finds a silver lining: “Thee 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.”

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