Good thing spouses are off the table, right?
posted at 9:21 am on June 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
After seeing the joy from the Leftosphere over a Newsweek story regarding Cindy McCain and property taxes, I have to shake my head in amusement. They seem very excited that a property held in trust for Mrs. McCain had four years of back taxes due, and somehow equate that to John McCain and the presidential campaign. When one looks into the Newsweek story, it rapidly becomes a nothingburger:
When you’re poor, it can be hard to pay the bills. When you’re rich, it’s hard to keep track of all the bills that need paying. It’s a lesson Cindy McCain learned the hard way when NEWSWEEK raised questions about an overdue property-tax bill on a La Jolla, Calif., property owned by a trust that she oversees. Mrs. McCain is a beer heiress with an estimated $100 million fortune and, along with her husband, she owns at least seven properties, including condos in California and Arizona.
San Diego County officials, it turns out, have been sending out tax notices on the La Jolla property, an oceanfront condo, for four years without receiving a response. County records show the bills, which were mailed to a Phoenix address associated with Mrs. McCain’s trust, were returned by the post office. According to a McCain campaign aide, who requested anonymity when discussing a private matter, an elderly aunt of Mrs. McCain’s lives in the condo, and the bank that manages the trust has not been receiving tax bills on the property.
Let’s recap. Cindy McCain keeps her finances completely separate from those of her husband in accordance with a pre-nuptial agreement. At her own expense, she set up a trust to house her elderly aunt in a La Jolla condo, which (being from SoCal myself) I can assure readers is a pretty generous gesture. Like most people, she arranged to have property taxes through a third party; most of us have an escrow company making the payments through the mortgage bills, while she had the trust do it. Unfortunately, the trust gave the county the wrong address and didn’t receive the bills to pay them, and didn’t follow up. Since Mrs. McCain doesn’t live at the property, she didn’t know a problem existed.
McCain’s opponents want to compare this to Al Franken and his serial tax problems in as many as twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia. Unfortunately, there are very important differences:
- Al Franken is the candidate, and Cindy McCain is not
- Franken actually ran the business that was supposed to pay the taxes, acting as CEO and COO
- Franken has campaigned on the issue of CEO responsibilities and legal compliance
I have no problem with people criticizing Cindy McCain for anything she says or does on the campaign trail. That’s fair game, as it is with Michelle Obama. Anything else seems like really weak tea, just as I wrote when people began tearing Mrs. Obama’s college thesis apart. Cackling with glee over an error made by a trust that serves to keep a relative in comfort in her last years seems a lot worse than the actual mistake itself.
Addendum: Like James, I think Newsweek wrote this in a more fair fashion than I would have expected, but I also agree with Stacy McCain that it emphasized the class-warfare aspect a little too heavily.
Update: Jazz Shaw tries to maintain his equilibrium between shock and boredom.