Our story about Franken’s disclosure that he’s paying about $70,000 in back taxes and penalties resulted in plenty of comments being posted to the story, which you can read here.
Also, here’s a sampling of reaction from bloggers — first those on the right, and then those on the left.
“There’s no other way to put it. Franken cheated on his taxes and has been found out. … How many working class Democrats are going to leave a wealthy-comedian tax dodger for a very effective, classy Norm Coleman? I think quite a few.”
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air doesn’t think Franken was deliberately trying to evade taxes. But Morrissey’s point is something Franken no doubt will be hearing plenty of from critics who give him the benefit of the doubt:
“Did Franken intend to evade his tax responsibilities? I’d say it’s much more likely that he just didn’t care enough to figure out what they were, although he certainly knew enough to incorporate to gain legitimate tax advantages. Now he wants Minnesotans to believe that he cares about their concerns when he didn’t care enough about his own business to run it properly. The voters — and taxpayers — of Minnesota are not going to have much affection for someone who has more in common with Leona Helmsley than with themselves.”
Sean Hackbarth — formerly of the Fred Thompson presidential campaign — writes on The American Mind: “Ah, tossing the accountant under the bus. At least it was his grandmother. [I think Hackbarth must have meant "wasn't his grandmother."] We don’t know if this will be the final shoe to drop. Judging from the mismanagement of Franken’s campaign a place like Puerto Rico could come calling demanding him to pay up.”
At Power Line, Scott Johnson writes: “Since the expiration of the Al Franken decade in 1990, the only kind of humor for which Franken has been responsible is unintentional. Assuming Franken’s tax delinquencies are the result of negligence, they would run true to his post-Franken decade form.”
Minneapolis blogger doubtcreptintohisvoice doesn’t think this will derail Franken’s campaign, but he nevertheless finds it troubling: “While the figure and scale is big, the Franken people are implying that it stems from the same misunderstanding of tax law. They continue to blame the accounting firm. It could very well be that the accounting firm is incompetent and gave horribly faulty advice. But the very fact that Franken was unable to figure out about himself what the Republicans uncovered fairly easily is troubling. This will probably not foil Franken’s DFL endorsement, but it can’t help.”
At MnPublius, Matt Martin argues that the facts point to no intent on Franken’s part, and he praises the Franken campaign for getting on top of these financial problems:
First of all, if the Frankens paid taxes on every single cent earned, then this truly isn’t an issue of tax evasion; I mean, why go through the bother of paying at all then? It seems that the sum gain Franken occurred due to the relative tax rates was about $4000; not enough to be worth this trouble. In short, it seems that this is legitimately an accounting error and that’s not just clever spin.
Second, the states aren’t the ones asking for money. This isn’t a story that the GOP had their hands on, it’s something that the campaign started researching when the accountant’s prior mistakes were realized. They did the research, and now the Frankens are willfully correcting the mistake by repaying the taxes owed to the various states; in some cases this is as little as $53.
I’m not going to sugar-coat this, all these issues have made for some rough times for the Franken campaign over the last month, but I can honestly say that this step by the campaign is encouraging. The campaign seems to be at the front of this now and has decided to take the path of full, willful disclosure–a choice that will hopefully get this all out there.
Likewise, Joe Bodell at Minnesota Campaign Report posted this item at 9:48 p.m. (Tuesday), giving Franken’s campaign credit for the damage control effort: “Got off the phone with Franken campaign staffer Andy Barr a little while ago. The campaign office is busy, obviously, but not doing what one might think they’d be doing at a time like this. According to Barr, their goal was to call every single DFL State Convention delegate so the delegates ‘could hear what really happened from us tonight before they got it wrong from someone else tomorrow.’ It’s damage control mode, no doubt about it, but there’s a good way to do that and there’s a bad way, and Franken’s team appears to be doing it the good way.”
So, what do you think of Franken’s problems, and what do they mean for his campaign?