We are the 99%

September 12, 2006

More Trouble for Rick Santorum

This times it may be tax trouble. From O'Toole at the P-G:
Democrats on Allegheny County Council plan to offer a resolution tonight calling for heightened scrutiny and potential prosecution of property owners who improperly claim a homestead tax exemption.

Amid a highly charged election campaign, the measure seems calculated to again highlight the fact that U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum is a part-time resident of Allegheny County, while he and his family spend most of their time in a home in Virginia.
Oopsie. Lil Ricky's in trouble!

I like how Jim O'Toole, in his second sentence, refers to Lil Ricky as a "part-time resident" of our lovely county. Here's the issue:
Allegheny County's homestead exemption for real estate taxes, worth about $70 annually, is intended to be used only for a homeowner's primary residence. Mr. Santorum claims the exemption on a home in Penn Hills, although he acknowledges that he and his family spend most of the year in his Leesburg, Va., residence.
Note the use of the term "primary" when describing the residence. So Rick is claiming that the Penn Hills home is his "primary" residence, even while he acknowledges spending more time in another state - at another residence.

Again, it's not about his residency, it's about his honesty.

In fact, Rick admitted on Marty Griffin's radio show that he spends 90% of his time in DC.

Back to O'Toole.
The renewed attention to the exemption, coming two months before the November election, is a replay of a protest from last year, when activists in a group called Democracy for Pittsburgh pressed the county and the district attorney's office to act against Mr. Santorum. While the district attorney and the county manager reviewed the issue, nothing came of that protest.
The 2 Political Junkies were there in the meeting with District Attorney Zappala. Here's a picture from the meeting. Seated to Zappala's right is Joy Sabl, member of the Organizing Group of Democracy for Pittsburgh (DfP is the local chapter of Democracy for America).


Here's the DfP posting on the issue.

Why is this a problem then, especially since the Santorum campaign "returns" the money to the county?
An aide to Mr. Santorum said that while the senator claims the homestead exemption, he has made a practice of donating a check for the equivalent amount to the county. His campaign did not immediately shed any light on why he would take the exemption and make the compensatory payment rather than simply not taking the exemption -- a procedure that would have the same net financial result for the senator and the county.
But hey, if it was completely OK for him to take the Homestead Exemption, then why is he returning the funds? He has to see that there's something wrong here.

Here's Sabl's explanation from the press conference in May of 2005:
According to the Act 50 Application, it is a problem. If the Senator “knowingly” requested the homestead tax status, he owes the county taxes due, plus interest, plus a fine of up to $2,500.”
Hey, isn't tax fraud a bad thing? I don't think I could get away with it. I don't think you could get away with it. Why should Rick Santorum?

- how long before he gets his kids to cover for him on this one?

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