Daschle's Lobbyist Wife Might Complicate New Post
The newly pegged secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, might be facing some questions about his wife's lobbying activities.
President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat to fill the cabinet post, and that of "health czar." The 59-year-old Daschle, according to sources speaking to The Washington Post's Ceci Connolly and Chris Cillizza, is expected to take the jobs.
Daschle's new position might be complicated by his wife, Linda Hall Daschle, who is a registered lobbyist with the Washington firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. (Roll Call and The Post are reporting that Linda Daschle is set to leave the firm and open her own shop focusing on transportation in January. "Although she does not have health care industry clients, the company does represent numerous health interests," The Post reports, referring to Baker, Donelson.)
At her current firm, she counts American Airlines, Boeing, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Lockheed Martin and L3 Communications among her clients, according to her online biography. She has been called a "major lobbying force" by associates, according to The Hill, and The New York Times said she is one of the "most influential professional lobbyists in the capital."
Linda Daschle, a former acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, mainly lobbies for aerospace and airline industry clients, but has worked for some health care-related firms in the past, Senate lobbying disclosure reports show.
She was one of a few Baker Donelson lobbyists on accounts for the pharmaceutical company Amgen Inc. and cigarette makers Lorillard Tobacco and Philip Morris Cos. in 1999.
Daschle has some health care related connections of his own: He serves on the boards of Prime BioSolutions and the Mayo Clinic, among others, and his law firm lobbies for a number of industry clients, including CVS Caremark, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, Abbott Laboratories and HealthSouth. Daschle does not lobby himself, but his law firm has a lobbying arm.
Republican critics have already noted Daschle's lobbyist connections.
"Since losing his Senate seat, Tom Daschle has worked for a major lobbying firm," said Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant. "For voters hoping to see new faces and fewer lobbyist-connections in government, Daschle's nomination will be another disappointment."
Ethical questions surrounding Linda Daschle's lobbying efforts are not new. When she resumed her lobbying career in 1997, she vowed never to lobby her husband or any Senate member.
By Derek Kravitz |
November 19, 2008; 5:56 PM ET
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