The White House nominee for Health Secretary is due for a private grilling tomorrow, by the Senate Finance Committee, and as CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier reports, former Senator Tom Daschle has to explain how he racked up a massive back-tax bill.
Last June, the former Senator found out he might owe back taxes for the use of a car and driver, provided by a wealthy friend. He paid the bill on Jan. 2 - $128,000 plus $12,000 in interest.
He did not tell Obama officials until Jan. 4.
Democratic Senators rallied to Daschle's defense.
"This was clearly an oversight," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told CBS News Face The Nation "He's made recompense. He's admitted it."
"If all you knew about Tom Daschle was that he used to be a Senator, and he made a mistake and had to pay over $100,000 in back taxes, you have a right to be skeptical, even cynical," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told Fox News Sunday. "But if you know Tom Daschle, you know better."
Republicans sounded more skeptical.
"Well, sure, you have to be troubled by it," said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), also on Fox News Sunday.
"I want to find out more about it," Sen. Jim Demint (R-S.C.) told ABC. "But it's disheartening, obviously."
"It certainly concerns me," Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told CNN.
It's one more in a series of nominee mishaps, Dozier reports.
Governor Bill Richardson pulled out of his nomination as Commerce Secretary because of a legal inquiry into possible corruption in his administration. Timothy Geithner's confirmation as Treasury Secretary was delayed, because of a $34,000 bill for back taxes.
No senator has indicated they'll vote against Daschle - but they say this confirmation won't come easy. And it will likely cost Obama some serious political capital, which he'll need for other fights, like passing the stimulus package.
White House officials told CBS News today the president stands behind Daschle - and they are confident he'll be confirmed. They say Mr. Obama believes nobody's perfect, but that nobody's hiding anything, Dozier reports.
By Kimberly Dozier
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