The Taxman Always Dings Vice
by Byrne Hobart
Caroline Kennedy recently withdrew her name from the running for New York’s open Senate seat, in a manner that was peculiar, to say the least:
There was incredulity in Democratic circles Thursday afternoon after the governor?s camp engaged in a ferocious public back-and-forth with Ms. Kennedy?s side, reaching out to numerous news organizations early Thursday afternoon to disparage her qualifications; one person close to the governor said that her candidacy had been derailed by problems involving taxes and a household employee, but declined to provide details.
Taxes and a household employee? The New York Times has more:
Ms. Kennedy?s only tax issue on the public record appeared to be a $615 city tax lien that she settled in 1994, a minuscule amount for a multimillionaire.
It doesn’t take much of a conspiracy theorist to wonder if the tax issue is not really much of an issue; surely if a Geither-sized mistake doesn’t cost anyone his job, a $615 lien shouldn’t, either. Perhaps she suffered more for her awkward interviews, her flimsy resume, or the fact that Presidential approval polls don’t show very much support for political dynasties at the moment.
The nice thing about a tax problem is that nearly everyone has, at some point, made some sort of mistake on their taxes. For Geithner, his tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes weren’t an issue; for Kennedy, her minor fine years ago were, if not the crucial issue, then at least something specific enough to put in print.
The nice thing about nailing someone for tax problems is that no matter who they are, you’ll be able to find something. And since tax records are more centralized than most other kinds of damning information, you’ll be able to find it fast even if they’re also not dealing with their nanny’s FICA (or green card), stopping by Vegas a little too often, or a round of rehab a few years back. Really, it’s a compliment to Kennedy et al: it means she’s important enough that her candidacy is a problem, but not such a threat that anyone needs to dig up any real dirt about her.