Report: Tom Daschle withdraws nomination as HHS Secretary

February 3, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Faced with growing problems over back taxes and potential conflicts of interest, Tom Daschle has withdrawn his nomination to be President Barack Obama’s Health and Human Services secretary. Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Daschle’s former Democratic colleagues had rallied to his defense in the wake of questions about a series of tax issues. Last month, Daschle paid $128,203 in back taxes and $11,964 in interest.

Daschle also was facing questions about potential conflicts of interests related to the speaking fees he accepted from health care interests. Daschle also provided advice to health insurers and hospitals through his post-Senate work at a law firm.

Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader, said he would have not been able to operate “with the full faith of Congress and the American people.”

The withdrawal comes after Republicans and major newspapers questioned Obama’s decision to stick with Daschle. A couple hours before the news, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint called for President Obama to withdraw the nomination of Daschle, becoming the first senator to say that the former majority leader’s tax problems are disqualifying.

“Now we must move forward,” Obama said in a written statement accepting Daschle’s request to be taken out of consideration. A day earlier, Obama had said he “absolutely” stood by Daschle.

Daschle’s stunning withdrawal came less than three hours after another Obama nominee also withdrew from consideration, and also over tax problems. Nancy Killefer, nominated by Obama to be the government’s first chief performance officer, said she didn’t want her bungling of payroll taxes on her household help to be a distraction.


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