Monday, October 07, 2013

Annise Parker isn't counter-punching any longer

She went on offense yesterday with the spot embedded below, airing it several times during the Sunday morning blabfest.

It's not a new ad; it was posted to Youtube a week ago. But her press conference at lunchtime today -- happening as this post goes live -- is the second of two punches she's landing against her leading challenger.

Mayor Annise Parker will be available to the media to discuss today’s Houston Chronicle story revealing that Ben Hall again has had to pay back taxes and penalties to the IRS. Hall agreed to pay $680,000 in January 2013.

Here's the Chron with the details on that.

Top mayoral challenger Ben Hall agreed to pay the IRS more than $680,000 in back taxes and penalties earlier this year, court documents show.

On Jan. 16, less than a week before Hall made his first campaign expenditures as a mayoral candidate, the challenger and his wife signed a document in U.S. Tax Court agreeing to pay $520,782 in back taxes and about $160,350 in penalties to cover four years of deficiencies, from 2005 through 2008. The amount was a little more than half of the $1.28 million the IRS claimed the Halls owed when it issued a formal "notice of deficiency" in June 2011.

Hall is going to pick up a few extra Republican votes with this response.

"It's clear there's no intent to hide or misrepresent revenue," Hall said. "The way I look at this is, I won because I sued them and I reduced their amounts and justified my conduct. I'm willing to live on that record. I'm going to pay exactly what I'm supposed to pay in taxes and I'm not going to let anybody bully me, especially not an IRS that's out of control."

The IRS did not respond to requests for comment due to the federal government shutdown.

Every one of the usual insider suspects the newspaper calls for reaction to these stories managed to curb-stomp Hall while he was down.

Democratic political consultant Mustafa Tameez said the case raises questions about Hall's ability to manage details, undercutting the challenger's criticism of Parker as a manager who lacks a grander vision.

"One way to look at it would be that many of the issues that Ben Hall has had regarding his taxes can individually be explained, and some of it is unfair to him," Tameez said. "The challenge he faces is that he has so many of these issues that now it looks like a pattern. There's a sense of carelessness on his personal finances that will make voters question his ability to manage the details of a city the size of Houston."

Republican communications consultant Jim McGrath said, "People understand accountants getting things wrong. You trust accountants to handle these matters because the tax code is such a monster. I'm sympathetic there, but when you put it in the broader fact pattern, it just raises that many more questions. One thing you don't need as a challenger coming up against an incumbent with a strong economy are doubts as to whether your own financial house is in order."

Rice University political scientist Mark Jones said the case either is a business lapse or an ethical one, neither of which helps Hall.

"In the best case, he did not do a particularly good job managing his business affairs, which is not a good attribute for a mayor, particularly in a strong mayor system, because the mayor is a chief executive and one of the mayor's jobs is to hire the right people and to manage those people," Jones said. "From the worst light, he was trying to avoid his fair share of taxes."

The odds for Parker clearing the field and avoiding a runoff just got a lot shorter.

1 comment:

Elderlady said...

I'm not going to comment on Mr. Hall's federal tax liability.

That's between him and the IRS.

However, it begs the question. If you do not have people qualified to keep straight your own finances.... However will you keep on track the finances of a City of Houston, with about 4 million people? Just curious.