Tom Daschle is taking heat from a good government group for his dual role as a participant in high-level health care reform talks and a quasi-lobbiyst for a law firm — and the Republicans aren’t missing the chance to take a shot at Daschle as well.
A “senior policy adviser” at DLA Piper, Daschle was the only outsider at a Monday meeting that included Harry Reid, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Obama health czar Nancy-Ann DeParle, and White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, Politico reports.
Daschle withdrew his nomination to be HHS Secretary in February after questions over unpaid taxes and policy advisory work for a law firm that sounded a lot like lobbying. But he never really gave up his role in President Obama’s push for health care reform legislation.
Now watchdog group Public Citizen is calling foul. Politico reports:
Daschle is not a registered lobbyist, but DLA’s website says he will “counsel clients on a wide range of regulatory and government affairs issues.”
Craig Holman of the government watchdog group Public Citizen asserted that Daschle meets the definition of a lobbyist and should not be present where the future of the Senate’s health care bill was being hammered out.
“He can sell his knowledge to the wealthy special interests, and as he gets more intimately involved in these meetings, he gets more knowledge that he can sell again, and it keeps going back and forth,” Holman said.
Asked by TPMDC’s Brian Beutler about Daschle’s role, Reid said yesterday “As you know, Senator Daschle was the lead person in the Senate for getting the Clinton health care bill through. He is an expert in health care.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) disagrees. He told Politico Daschle’s presence at the meeting “raises serious ethical concerns.”