Lien-gate between Republican Congressional candidate Allen West and Democratic Congressman Ron Klein has continued throughout the week with dueling press releases from both sides.
The background: while elections offices were still counting ballots in Tuesday's primary, around 10 p.m. Klein's campaign released its first TV ad that juxtaposed West talking about the need for "individual responsibility" with a copy of an $11,000 IRS lien for unpaid taxes. The Klein campaign provided a copy of the lien which shows it is for an Indiana property in 2005. The ad also highlighted an American Express judgment for about $5,500 and liens on his Plantation home (county records show a few liens from his HOA -- each less than $1,000 and reflect the AmEx judgment.)
West's campaign doesn't dispute the American Express judgment or Plantation liens. But campaign manager Josh Grodin insists that West never lived or owned a home in Indiana and that the IRS lien was an error. He said earlier this week he would supply the documentation to reporters to prove it.
On Thursday, Grodin said he initially thought it would be easy to obtain that documentation.
"It has proven to be a lot more difficult than I originally thought," he said. Grodin said the IRS supplied West with a refund but he said he doesn't want to provide reporters copies because it contains personal information and he's confident he'll get the documentation showing the error from the IRS. But Grodin said the campaign's tax attorney said that it can take up to 60 days to obtain such information from the IRS.
We tried to get the information ourselves from the IRS but had no luck. Mike Dobzinski, IRS spokesman for Florida, said he could not discuss an individual taxpayer's circumstances to confirm or deny whether an IRS lien was an error.
Here's what the Klein campaign had to say in a press release Thursday about West not coughing up the proof yet:
"Why did Allen West promise to provide proof that a federal tax lien filed against him was false, and then fail to provide that proof?” Klein campaign spokeswoman Sarah Rothschild said. “That answer is because Mr. West’s first reaction to criticism is to tell lies and then attack.”
“The irony is that West, who constantly claims the importance of personal responsibility, is shifting the blame and attempting to pass the buck. West has deliberately misled the voters of South Florida to try to cover up his lack of personal responsibility and that is inexcusable. The voters of this district do not want to be lectured on fiscal responsibility by someone who chooses not to pay his own bills and taxes.”
And here's West's latest written response to the ad:
"When one considers that Ron Klein is questioning the roughly $15,000 my family has or is working to repay, I have several questions for Ron Klein: What about the trillions of dollars you have wasted at the taxpayer's expense? As a Member of the House Financial Services Committee, why did you allow American taxpayer-funded TARP money to be provided to foreign banks and financial institutions? Why did you allow your office to exceed its allocated operating budget? Why do you refuse to take accountability for the failure of stimulus money to actually stimulate the economy? While you sat on the House Financial Services Committee, South Florida has seen its unemployment rate more than triple from 4% to nearly 13%."