Republican Doug Wardlow is now attacking Democratic opponent Keith Ellison over a tax-evasion scandal dating back to the mid-90’s and early 2000’s.
But in a twist of fate, Ellison’s tax troubles were most recently brought to light by President Barack Obama’s allies who sought to prevent Ellison from taking the reigns of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2016. As POLITICO reported, the effort to back Tom Perez over Ellison was led by operatives working with Obama, who suggested that Ellison’s tax woes were one of many reasons he wasn’t fit to run the DNC.
“We like Keith. But is he really the guy we need right now when we are trying to get all of those disaffected white working-class people to rally around our message of economic equality?” one Obama ally told POLITICO under the condition of anonymity.
The Democratic infighting that ensued after Hillary Clinton’s loss is now coming back to bite Ellison, whose opponent is using the dirt dug up by Democrats to bring him down.
On Friday, Republican attorney general candidate Doug Wardlow re-outed Ellison for his “history of failing to pay his own taxes.”
Between 1992 and 2000, Ellison neglected to pay some or all of his taxes on five separate occasions, resulting in a federal lien on his home until he was able to pay upwards of $18,000 in back taxes. According to The Washington Post, Ellison was also required to pay off a state lien, but both his federal and state tax troubles were resolved before his 2006 election.
“Keith Ellison seems to believe that he is above the law. Minnesota’s next attorney general must uphold the law, and Ellison has proven that he is grossly unqualified to do so,” Wardlow said Friday.
The Wardlow campaign is pointing to past statements made by DNC insiders, such as Bob Mulholland, who said that “if Ellison were running as a Republican, Democrats would attack him as a tax cheat.”
During Ellison’s 2006 run for Congress, when the issue was first raised, his ex-wife took responsibility for the mishaps and attributed them to her battle with multiple sclerosis.
“I was having a tough time getting things done. I didn’t want to let Keith down by resigning and I guess he didn’t want to fire me either,” Kim Ellison said in 2006 when she was serving as the campaign treasurer for her husband, who was also dealing with campaign finance violations at the time.
Wardlow cited the tax issues in a new “mini-series” that his campaign launched Friday that seeks to illustrate “why extreme Keith Ellison is unfit to be attorney general.”
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