He was merely first in the queue:
Despite the fact that Geithner sailed through the confirmation process—while Daschle went up in flames—Geithner’s tax troubles were actually far more egregious. People tend to give Geithner a pass, because the overall amount he owed was smaller and it just involved Social Security and Medicare, rather than income tax. But Geithner actually acknowledged years ago that he owed the taxes—but didn’t pay them until he was nominated for the Treasury job. That hardly counts as a mistake.
Daschle, for his part, failed to count as income the value of a car and driver he received from a New York private-equity firm, InterMedia Advisors, during 2005-2007. He also overstated charitable contributions and understated income from InterMedia, which paid him $1 million a year. Daschle filed amended tax returns last month reporting $128,203 in additional taxes and $11,964 in interest. The revised tax returns were submitted after President Obama announced that he intended to nominate Daschle to be secretary of Health and Human Services.
Geithner’s situation was nonetheless a bigger ethical lapse. As an employee of the International Monetary Fund in 2001 and later years, Geithner was responsible for sending a check to the IRS to cover his own payroll taxes. He didn’t do so. What he did do was submit a request to the IMF for reimbursement of those taxes. And he collected.