President Obama's pick for secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, failed to pay more than $140,000 in taxes, mostly for free use of a car and driver that had been provided to him by a Democratic fundraiser, administration officials said Friday.
Daschle, concluding he owed the taxes, filed amended returns and paid more than $100,000 in back taxes and interest on Jan. 2, the officials said.
The car and driver were provided by Leo Hindery Jr., a media and telecommunications executive who founded a private equity firm known as InterMedia Advisors. Daschle was chairman of InterMedia's advisory board. In a financial disclosure statement filed this month, Daschle reported receiving more than $2 million for consulting for InterMedia and $182,520 in "company-provided transportation."
The belated tax payments help explain delays in the confirmation of Daschle, who had been expected to win swift approval from the Senate. It was not immediately clear whether it would derail his nomination.
President Obama launched a task force on the middle class on Friday and put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of it. Obama said the task force comes at a moment of crisis -- just as the economy is experiencing, he said, the "worst contraction in close to three decades."
The middle class task force has its own web site -- astrongmiddleclass.gov -- that will not only post information but also solicit ideas, Biden said.
The first meeting will take place on Feb. 27 in Philadelphia, to focus on green economy jobs. It will meet monthly.