Saturday, January 31, 2009

Daschle's Confirmation "Speed Bump"

OK, last night's post about Daschle was jesting and having some fun about a couple of tax issues. Daschle's defense that he believed that a car and driver service was merely a "generous gift" that was not taxable was dubious for a man of his supposed intelligence and the rank he's held over the last 30 years, but I took it to be a stupid, costly mistake that would be news for a few days.

This morning, however, we find out that there is more to the story. Specifically, there was also more than $88,000 in consulting income that went unreported in 2007. That's bad; in fact, it's worse than the car service problem as there is no longer a "I didn't know it was taxable!" excuse to be made. But what bothers me far more are multiple references to "questionable charitable contributions." For some reason, I had to search several stories before I finally found a description: Daschle had initially claimed deductions for donations made to organizations that turn out not to be tax-deductible. We need to know more -- a whole heck of a lot more -- on that matter, especially the organizations and if they might be tied to his consulting and/or legal clients (hey, I'm a cynical SOB).

If Obama remains committed to having Daschle as his HHS Sec, there needs to be a full and detailed accounting of everything ASAP, including public release of at least the past seven years of tax returns. This current controversy is only over the past three years that the Finance Committee has been reviewing: if they'd initially wanted to review five years or seven years, how many additional adjustments might Daschle and his accountant have made?

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