Tom Daschle, the former South Dakota senator, was nominated by President Barack Obama to be secretary of health and human services. He withdrew as the nominee on Feb. 4, 2009, because he had failed to pay more than $128,000 in taxes.
The taxes had been owed in part because of his free use of a car and driver that had been provided to him by a prominent businessman and Democratic fund-raiser. Mr. Daschle, concluding that he owed the taxes, filed amended returns and paid more than $140,000 in back taxes and interest on Jan. 2, 2009.
The car and driver were provided by Leo Hindery Jr., a media and telecommunications executive who had been chairman of YES, the New York Yankees regional sports network. In 2005, Mr. Hindery founded a private equity firm known as InterMedia Advisors. Mr. Daschle was chairman of InterMedia’s advisory board.
Mr. Daschle served in Congress from South Dakota for 26 years, including 10 years as Democratic leader in the Senate. As leader when the Democrats were in the minority and the majority, Mr. Daschle was known for his soft-spoken and reassuring style.
Mr. Daschle, a former Air Force officer, devoted much of his adult life to Congress. He was 30 when he was elected to the House in 1978, after serving as an aide to Senator James Abourezk, Democrat of South Dakota.
Mr. Daschle left the Senate after losing a brutal re-election bid to John Thune, a Republican congressman, in 2004, the year Mr. Obama was elected to the Senate, so Mr. Daschle and Mr. Obama did not overlap as lawmakers. But Mr. Daschle left office with a strong reputation as a scholar of Senate dynamics, and Mr. Obama eagerly welcomed his advice, friends say.
But Mr. Daschle’s post-Senate career moves caused complications. In an era when lobbyists are not held in favor ”” in part because of Mr. Obama’s criticisms ”” Mr. Daschle has worked since leaving the Senate as a public policy advisor for a K Street law firm, Alston & Bird. Although not a registered lobbyist, he provided “strategic advice” to commercial clients in the fields of health care, energy, telecommunications and taxes, according to public documents. His wife, Linda Hall Daschle, is registered, and she is regarded as one of the most influential professional lobbyists in the capital.
As a politician, Mr. Daschle often struck a populist note, but his financial disclosure report shows that in the last two years, he received $2.1 million from Alston & Bird; $2 million in consulting fees from the private equity firm run by Mr. Hindery; and at least $220,000 for speeches to health care, pharmaceutical and insurance companies. He also received nearly $100,000 from health-related companies affected by federal regulation.
Mr. Daschle was born on Dec. 9, 1947, in Aberdeen, S.D., and has three children from his first marriage.