Health Care Groups Paid Daschle $220k

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Politico

Health Care Groups Paid Daschle $220k

by
Kenneth P. Vogel

US President Barack Obama's pick for secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, seen January 8, paid over 100,000 dollars in back taxes in January after failing to report services from a wealthy friend, US media reported Friday. (AFP/Getty Images/File/Mark Wilson)

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.

Daschle
reported $182,520.26 of "company provided transportation" on the
disclosure form, which also indicates he owns a stake in the company
worth between $200,000 and $500,000, as well as a "5 % limited partner
profit sharing interest."

But he reported that only about half of his interest is vested, and he
indicates that "upon confirmation, I will divest all my vested shares
and unvested shares and relinquish any benefit to which I may otherwise
be entitled."

Daschle reported that he has been a consultant and chair of the
company's advisory board since January 2005, the same month he left the
Senate after being upset in his reelection bid by Republican John Thune.

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.

His disclosure indicates he provided "policy advice" to such clients as
United Health, AT&T and the politically connected consulting shop
Glover Park Group.

After leaving the Senate, Daschle also landed a host of lucrative board
spots, including with the energy giant BP Corporation, which paid him
$250,000 in fees, developer CB Richard Ellis, which paid $121,000, and
ethanol processor Mascoma Corporation, which paid him $75,000,
according to the disclosure.

It shows that Daschle has hundreds of thousands of dollars in stocks
and options from CB Richard Ellis and Mascoma, though he indicated he
forfeited his unvested stock options and wrote that "if confirmed, I
will divest my vested stock options with CB Richard Ellis."

He reported owning homes worth as much as $250,000 each in Aberdeen,
S.D., and Altus, Okla., with his wife, a high-powered lobbyist for
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz.

Daschle wasn't required to disclose her income, but did report that her
retirement plans through the firm were worth more than $260,000.

Chris Frates contributed to this report.

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