Franken faces $70K tax bill across 17 states

posted at 7:25 pm on April 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Maybe Stuart Smalley could charm his way out of a tax-evasion problem, but Al Franken has to face the music in 17 states. The Star Tribune reports that Franken’s total tax bill will run to over $70,000 for a four-year period in which he ignored tax responsibilities, putting his Senate campaign in serious risk of utter collapse:

DFL U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken, frontrunner in the race to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, owes $70,000 in back taxes in 17 states, where he earned income going back to 2003.

Franken on Tuesday told the Associated Press that he never intended to avoid paying taxes and that on the advice of his accountant, had paid taxes to the city and state where he lived.

Franken has been under fire since early March, when a Republican operative revealed that Franken had failed to pay workers’ compensation and disability premiums for employees of his New York-based corporation, Alan Franken, Inc., between 2002 and 2005.

New York state officials had tried to collect the back premiums for four years, resorting to a collection agency and even filing a summary judgment against Franken in state Supreme Court last May for $25,000.

The “Republican operative”, my friend Michael Brodkorb, has worked this story for over a month. The Strib didn’t bother to do this kind of research on Al Franken, and neither did the DFL, Minnesota’s Democratic Party affiliate. They have continued to use the “Republican operative” appellation even though Michael no longer works for the Republican Party, and insinuate a political attack when it turns out that Michael reported nothing but the truth.

In fact, Michael underestimated Franken’s incompetence. He assumed that the problems were limited to only New York and California. As it turns out, Franken never filed any tax returns for income in states other than his residence, even though his corporation generated revenue in one-third of the states in the US.

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.

Update: The Lady Logician wonders why Franken wouldn’t get the same treatment as Wesley Snipes.  Snipes was more of a refusenik and it was with the feds, not the states.  Franken just ignored his liabilities, not as a protest but just as someone who didn’t want to part with his cash.

The bigger question: how does he rally the people who are Happy to Pay for a Better Minnesota when he’s not happy to pay at all?

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Can’t really criticize him for that, though. He’s a philosophe, and a member of the intelligentsia. Taxes are for little people.

morganfrost on April 29, 2008 at 7:28 PM

Maybe Franken misunderstood the saying, “in comedy, there are no rules.”

RBMN on April 29, 2008 at 7:30 PM

I can’t imagine the voters of any state giving him a pass on this. Oh wait, it IS Minnesota isn’t it? Oops, my bad.

Tim Zank on April 29, 2008 at 7:33 PM

The irony of this. He wanted higher tax for everybody and yet he evaded paying taxes. What a fraud.

jdun on April 29, 2008 at 7:33 PM

He is claiming it is satire.

Wade on April 29, 2008 at 7:33 PM

Thanking my lucky stars that he never found out that there are no state income taxes in Texas. Minnesota he is all yours. Have fun.

Limerick on April 29, 2008 at 7:39 PM

I question the comedic timing.

dont taze me bro on April 29, 2008 at 7:40 PM

Whatever keeps him out of office. I’d rather vote for Lucifer than this guy.

Come on Minnesota, we know you love your independent reputation, but keep that moderate Republican Coleman in office, for the sake of the rest of the country!

Pope Linus on April 29, 2008 at 7:47 PM

I thought Liberals were happy to pay more taxes.

amerpundit on April 29, 2008 at 7:47 PM

Its OK Harry Reid told him taxes were voluntary and Franken Believed it

William Amos on April 29, 2008 at 7:49 PM

The poll numbers are still way too close.

Asher on April 29, 2008 at 7:50 PM

Some time ago, people used to hold “rent parties” with entertainers to raise money for rent. Maybe Franken can talk supporters into coming to a “tax-cheat party”.

eeyore on April 29, 2008 at 7:50 PM

I thought Liberals were happy to pay more taxes.

amerpundit on April 29, 2008 at 7:47 PM

+1. There HAS to be a sound clip of him pounding on the tax cuts and rich people paying their ‘fair-share’.

Limerick on April 29, 2008 at 7:50 PM

Cheats and the cheating cheaters who cheat us.

Pardon my schadenfreude.

Rosmerta on April 29, 2008 at 7:51 PM

This person is sooooo disgusting! Thanks Limerick, I hope we can pass him off soon. If he doesn’t win, he’ll flounce off in a huff. Maybe he’ll flounce to TX?

I’m hoping that he’ll pull a Wright and shoot himself in the foot. He’s already said some pretty nasty things that haven’t set well with Minnesotans.

Coleman, while a rino, has a fair chance of beating him. First the muslim (Ellison) now this! The Good Lord really believes in testing our ability to cope with the insane.

Proudvet on April 29, 2008 at 7:53 PM

Keyword in all of this: Liberal

Weebork on April 29, 2008 at 7:53 PM

I hope PA is watching. Chris Matthews is going to run in 2010 (so says drudge).

Got a good accountant Chris?

Limerick on April 29, 2008 at 7:53 PM


Oops — not really. Sorry ’bout dat.

Lee on April 29, 2008 at 8:04 PM

I question the comedic timing.

dont taze me bro on April 29, 2008 at 7:40 PM


29Victor on April 29, 2008 at 8:14 PM

Franken on Tuesday told the Associated Press that he never intended to avoid paying taxes…


Liberals and their INTENTIONS! What an ass!
Liberals consider themselves ABOVE the law
because of their “good intentions”.
Laws, like gravity, only apply to mere mortals.
Liberals like Franken consider themselves angelic.

Liberals like Franken are renowned to be tight-assed and frigid when it comes to generosity and paying taxes–passing the plate for OTHERS to pay for their dinner and for OTHERS to pay for their programs, but never paying for someone else’s dinner out of their own pocket! Liberal celebrities charge top dollar for their “charity” performances and appearances, as a rule doing nothing pro bono. That would be foolish, to pay one’s own bill when it can be handed down the line for the sucker to get stuck with. THAT bill always gets passed off onto conservatives who serve as the beams and bolts holding together the truly generous GOP.

Hey Franken,
The buck stops in front of your own ugly mug.

maverick muse on April 29, 2008 at 8:20 PM

Norm Coleman is a smart man. This will make for a tasty snack.

THE CHOSEN ONE on April 29, 2008 at 8:23 PM

I thought he was for the little guy. With other taxpayer’s money I guess.

Hummer53 on April 29, 2008 at 8:32 PM

Please, god, if you’re up there…let us somehow, someway let us retain all of our seats and gain just ONE seat in the Senate! JUST ONE!

SouthernGent on April 29, 2008 at 8:34 PM

Do as I say not as I do.

Tax evaders and the taxing tax evaders.

Sorry Al I just put the copyright in on that one.

jukin on April 29, 2008 at 8:48 PM

I’d love to see a battle between the states, as to who gets to imprison him first.

Virus-X on April 29, 2008 at 9:24 PM

Now what can we find about Klobochar, McCollum and Walz?

MNDavenotPC on April 29, 2008 at 9:43 PM

Franken-schmuck is just another politician: spending our money while hanging on to their own like grim death. The difference is the professional politicians hide it better than the neophyte Franken.

Mallard T. Drake on April 29, 2008 at 9:48 PM

You know, after the IRS runs him through the ringer, he might have a new perspective. He might even embrace a conservative version of tax reform…

percysunshine on April 29, 2008 at 10:32 PM

Picture this. Stuart Smalley and Wesley Snipes sharing a jail cell. Wonder how that arrangement would go. Franken could do a bang up job of decorating the cell in soft pastels. DD

Darvin Dowdy on April 29, 2008 at 10:42 PM

“Four legs good, two legs bad”

Zorg on April 29, 2008 at 10:54 PM

I don’t know; he’s a pretty wealthy guy, isn’t he? Didn’t he make a ridiculous 7-figure salary off Air America, for example?

I’ll bet he can toss off a $70K check without much difficulty.

Kensington on April 29, 2008 at 11:53 PM

Now he’s blaming his accountant?!?

Sorry, won’t wash. Unless he has Lionel Hutz, I guess. But having some…passing…familiarity with the life of a CPA and tax accountant, I really can’t think of one who would tell a client with a straight face that one should only pay taxes to the city/state of residence.

On the other hand, he could be telling the truth, strictly speaking. Left unsaid is whether his accountant was informed about his operations in the other states. If he didn’t know about them, then of course the accountant would say Franken only owed taxes to his city/state of residence. But then that advice is tainted by his client’s lie of omission.

Inre the Wesley Snipes comparison, is the IRS involved in the Franken issue? I only see state obligations being ignored, but even at that the standard is usually willful failure to file. Franken isn’t the first and won’t be the last to plead ignorance/stupidity on the point so as to avoid a willful failure to file rap. If he can convince a jury that he honestly didn’t think he had to file, the willful charge goes out the window.

JohnTant on April 29, 2008 at 11:59 PM

We have a great many prematurely gray haired women wearing sensible shoes, driving their toyota green cars at 50mph in the left lane with a death grip on the steering wheel with Minnesota Public Radio tuned in and an NPR knapsack on the front seat who will still vote for this dill weed…

sabbott on April 30, 2008 at 8:11 AM

I’m from MN and love my state. But here’s what is frustrating as he**. In the last general elections, virtually everywhere in this state was RED, except for: Twin Cities Metro, Iron Range (Duluth) and Rochester (and possibly St. Cloud but I can’t remember). Given the population concentrations in metropolitan areas as opposed to everywhere else, we who live outside of those areas really don’t have a say. And those above-mentioned areas are chock-full of moonbats. Al Franken scares the crap out of me (and that’s after I get over my initial shock just looking at him). He’s insane, absolutely bat-guano nuts. And I won’t be the least bit surprised if he wins – despite everything that’s coming out about him. See, libtards will not listen. I would be thrilled if he was forced by the DFL here to drop out and another DFL candidate won, because at least it would show some marginal common sense. But that ain’t gonna happen. He’ll be the candidate running against Coleman and he has a real shot at winning that seat and people here who are DFLers just don’t care!!! (BTW – I apologize to the rest of the country for Jesse, but at least I can hold my head high and say I didn’t vote for him either).

srl214 on April 30, 2008 at 8:51 AM

Well, you are assuming what he did was wrong, what he did is exactly what the liberals always do…they have other people pay for what they want and use. No right average minded liberal ever wants to pay for anything, their job is to make sure everyone else pays.
So in that sense, he will be considered a hero of the people. Let the “wealthy” pick up his tab, they can afford it…and btw, no liberal is ever wealthy, only conservative republicans are wealthy.
Therefore, Al stuck it to the “man”.

right2bright on April 30, 2008 at 9:51 AM

Of course he’s gonna blame it on the Bush Regime for trying to use the IRS and other tax agencies to silence him. Remember – he’s a Victim.

greasywrench on April 30, 2008 at 10:54 AM