Congressman Todd Young found himself in embarrassing company recently when CNN identified him as one of eight members of the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means with tax problems.
In Young's case, it was a homestead deduction claimed on a Bloomington house where he does not reside. The tax break of almost $5,000 was for property the GOP congressman owns but rents to tenants.
CNN reported that Young last month paid $5,300 in back taxes and penalties after receiving a notice from the Monroe County auditor. He earlier paid penalties totaling $1,500 for late property tax payments made between 2007 and 2011.
“I accept full responsibility for these embarrassing oversights and have paid all the taxes and fees I owed,” Young said in a statement to CNN. “I regret the errors and offer no excuses.”
His spokesman told CNN that Young had been eligible for the homestead deduction in prior years but did not stop claiming it when he moved out in late 2011.
The county auditor, a Democrat, told CNN that Young simply made a mistake when he filed for a homestead deduction for which he did not qualify.
“In 99 percent of the cases we deal with, it simply slips people's minds. It's ‘whoops' or ‘I don't understand the law,' ” Saulter said.
“They are not willingly making improper deductions.”
The Democratic treasurer in the congressman's home county wasn't so forgiving. Monroe County Treasurer Catherine Smith told CNN that she gave Young the opportunity to update his property records when he was in her office in 2012 to pay $4,000 in back taxes, but he did not remove the exemption.
“It's homestead fraud. He knew the state law,” Young told CNN. “A man that makes (a salary) from tax money should be held accountable for his own taxes.”
Here's hoping Young's attention to detail is a bit sharper when it comes to addressing U.S. tax laws.
Election results jolt to EU
How surprised was Europe to find out that the political parties that opposed or were doubtful about greater cooperation among European Union countries did well in last weekend's vote?
Apparently pretty surprised. Francois Hollande, president of France, called an emergency meeting of his ministers. Hollande's party, the socialists, finished third in the elections for the European parliament.
“It's an earthquake,” Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, said. Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, said the strong showing of populists and rightists was “remarkable, and regrettable.” (Indeed. In Germany, a party that has been called neo-fascist won a European parliament seat for the first time.)
For the first time since Spain returned to democracy in the 1970s, the two major conservative and socialist parties failed to win more than half the total vote between them, the New York Times reported.
So should they have been surprised?
In the European Union as a whole, the unemployment rate is 10.5 percent. As a consequence, anti-immigrant feeling is running high. Neo-Nazis did well in Greece.
The continent is indeed roiling. Maybe upset. But it also appears that elected officials may be just a little out of touch. “The perception of the common person in the street is that they can no longer control what's going on,” José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said.
Deep South dirty tricks
Back when Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss, was merely considering running for office in 1972, he mentioned it to his wife, Rose.
“I said, ‘What would you think about being married to a United States congressman?' And she said, ‘I don't know. Which one?' ”
Politico, the online journal of Washington politics, reported that Cochran told that story while he was campaigning recently. It didn't say whether Cochran, who is 76, was wistful when he told it or whether he misses his wife's humor these days. Rose Cochran is in a nursing home in Madison County, Mississippi, and suffers from progressive dementia.
The senator, who has served six terms, is in trouble in Mississippi, where he is portrayed as a D.C. insider out of touch with Mississippi. His opponent, a onetime talk radio host, is a hard-charging state senator and GOP representative of the hard right named Chris McDaniel.
McDaniel, 41, may be in trouble, too, but for different reasons. A conservative blogger has been arrested, along with three other men, one of whom has appeared on radio with McDaniel, on charges of breaking into Rose Cochran's living quarters in the nursing home and taking a photo of her. McDaniel has not been arrested.
Apparently, the idea was to portray Cochran as spending too much time visiting his wife. The episode has exploded the campaigns of each candidate, and few people can talk about anything else. The election is Tuesday.
Cochran was widely thought to be vulnerable to a candidate on the right. And if McDaniel really won, given that we're talking Mississippi here, there was a good chance that the real hard right would be able to elect a U.S. senator.
Now, maybe, with breathtaking overreach, the right flank has compromised its standing. How will this turn out? Given that it's Mississippi, we don't know. But as they say, stay tuned.