Wednesday, October 15, 2008

AD WATCH: Buchanan Continues False Attacks Against Jennings

Continuing a campaign strategy built on misrepresenting the record of Christine Jennings, Vern Buchanan’s latest ad, released late last week, makes several false claims about Jennings’ record on taxes, while avoiding answering serious questions raised about his own record.

“Not surprisingly, Buchanan continues to run away from his own record by lying about Christine Jennings,” said Jennings spokesperson Melissa Smith. “Buchanan willfully misrepresents Christine Jennings’ record on taxes in this ad, once again breaking his pledge for positive campaigning, while failing to mention serious issues he’s personally faced with the IRS.

“This is another attempt to distract from the serious questions that have been raised by the more than 180 lawsuits filed against Buchanan and his businesses over the past 20 years, including nine since May of this year. Instead of directly answering the legitimate questions about allegations of consumer fraud, bank fraud and illegal campaign contributions raised by these lawsuits, Buchanan’s campaign has yet again lashed out with an ad made up entirely of false claims.”


Buchanan Claim: “Markets are in turmoil…jobs lost…pensions in jeopardy. The last thing we need is a tax increase, but Christine Jennings is for higher taxes on Social Security, on families, seniors, small business…”

FACT: Christine Jennings will provide real tax relief.

* Jennings supports a range of policies to provide middle class tax relief, include raising the estate tax exemption, making higher education more affordable and providing relief from skyrocketing homeowners' insurance rates. Jennings supports ending the marriage penalty, extending child tax credits and providing tax credits and simplifying the tax code for small businesses.

FACT: Christine Jennings will protect Social Security for our seniors.

* Jennings is the only candidate in the race to be endorsed by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. She has consistently and unequivocally opposed risky privatization schemes for Social Security, and has been clear about her commitment to ensuring Social Security remains solvent for current retirees and future generations.

FACT: Vern Buchanan supports President Bush’s Social Security plan, putting seniors’ retirement at risk.

* Buchanan says he's against privatizing Social Security, but told the AARP that he does support creating personal retirement accounts, like those advocated by President Bush. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 10/26/06]

Buchanan Claim: “What’s worse, she wants to raise your taxes, but admitted she didn’t pay her own for three years.”

FACT: The article cited by Buchanan was about how Jennings found and corrected the tax mistake, which was related to her campaign, not her personal taxes.

* Federal Election Commission records show that on May 23, Jennings made the final payment to the IRS to square the [campaign] tax bill…She said the mistake was found by her staff, and not by the IRS, which does not comment on private tax disputes. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 8/01/07]

FACT: Buchanan has had tax problems – after an eight-year-long tax dispute with IRS, Buchanan had to pay $1.3 in penalties and interest.

* “It took eight years of court battles, but by 2002 the parties had settled and Buchanan paid the $1.2 million he always insisted was the real amount he owed. But during the time he fought the tax, penalties and interest piled up and the IRS charged him another $1.3 million.” [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 6/14/08]

FACT: Buchanan has allegedly practiced tax avoidance strategies, including structuring real estate deals to evade taxes.

* “A multimillionaire with vast business holdings, Buchanan cut his own taxes on two real estate deals that experts say were structured to avoid paying more than $300,000 to the federal and state governments…Even if such transactions are common, [real estate expert Robert] Stern said, state revenue officials ‘could very well have determined that this violated the doc stamp laws. This was a complicated transaction with lots of layers and lots of details elaborately put together,’ [Stern] said, ‘and one of those benefits may have been to avoid the transfer taxes.’” [St. Petersburg Times, 9/21/08]

FACT: Buchanan also uses “controversial” “offshore tax havens” for the “wealthy” that the IRS Commissioner wanted to eliminate.

* “Congressional candidate Vern Buchanan uses offshore reinsurance companies in Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands to reduce taxes on extended warranties sold by his auto dealerships…These tax avoidance strategies are controversial. The Internal Revenue Service has stepped up efforts in recent years to investigate offshore reinsurance companies, and IRS Commissioner Mark Everson has urged lawmakers to change laws that help the wealthy benefit from these offshore tax havens.” [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 10/31/06]