Late property taxes plague all three GOP U.S. Senate hopefuls seeking to unseat McCaskill
In what could be seen as a political gift to Democrats, news is breaking today that all three of Missouri’s major Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate have been late on occasion paying their property taxes – which arguably could defuse one of the GOP’s most potent attacks against U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
Republicans have hammered at the issue repeatedly, and were expected to air ads on the matter this fall.
But it turns out that her wealthiest Republican opponent, St. Louis businessman John Brunner, has had similar late-payment issues -- including, in 2006, a late payment involving a plane owned by his (now sold) family business, Vi-Jon.
And Brunner, in turn, released information today showing that his two GOP rivals – former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin – also have been late paying their property taxes.
In 2011, says Brunner’s campaign, “Sarah Steelman was twice penalized for delinquent property taxes from 2010 on her home and vehicles… including a luxury, 2008 Infiniti QX56.”
In Akin’s case, “late taxes were paid on property Todd Akin fully or partially owned in 2003 and 2010 and the 2004 personal property taxes on his vehicles were paid late as well.”
Akin’s late property payments involved his former residence in Town and Country and his current home in Wildwood.
The political web site, Politico, first reported Brunner’s late-tax problems this morning. The Beacon appears to be first reporting on the tax issues involving Akin and Steelman.
Brunner spokesman Todd Abrajano noted that Vi-Jon’s tax payment on the plane was 68 days late in 2006, which he said was “completely different’’ from McCaskill’s three years of nonpayment of St. Louis County property taxes on her plane.
But Brunner’s family also was late paying property taxes on their family home in 2000 and 2001, and on a vehicle in 2007 and 2008, his campaign acknowledged.
“All taxes, interest, and penalties were paid in full,’’ the Brunner campaign said.
“Like many Missourians including Sarah Steelman, Todd Akin, and Claire McCaskill, John Brunner has occasionally paid his property taxes late," said Brunner spokesman Todd Abrajano. "As a responsible citizen and taxpayer, John Brunner immediately paid all taxes, interest, and penalties in full as soon as the oversights were recognized."
The campaign then sought to pivot. "With government debt and spending out of control; unemployment above eight percent for 41 straight months; massive tax increases threatening families, farmers, and small business owners; and the overall economy stalled; late property tax payments are certainly not a central issue of this campaign for Missourians,” Abrajano said. "As this campaign continues, John Brunner will continue to focus on the key issues that Missourians care about as he travels across the state meeting voters."
McCaskill spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki offered as short, but pointed, response. "Claire knows that mistakes can be embarrassing. But Claire also understands that true leadership is taking accountability for honest mistakes and fixing them, not finding someone else to blame."