- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 31, 2003

The presidential campaign of Sen. John Edwards said yesterday that the millionaire lawyer paid the District more than $11,000 in back taxes on his Georgetown mansion yesterday, after The Washington Times disclosed the delinquent bill.

The D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue had no record of the payment at 4:30 p.m. yesterday, but a clerk said her records would not reflect any payments made yesterday.

Four months late, Mr. Edwards failed to pay the bill on his $3.8 million mansion until yesterday, the same day that The Times reported the delinquency and one day after the North Carolina Democrat’s office first learned of The Times’ inquiries. Mr. Edwards’ career as a personal-injury lawyer has netted him a personal worth of between $12 million and $30 million.

Presidential campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said in a statement, “As soon as the Edwards[es] received a copy of the tax notice for their property from the D.C. government, they paid it immediately.”

Asked specifically in a telephone call later whether that meant they paid the bill yesterday, Ms. Palmieri said, “Yes.”

The tax flap follows several instances in past years when Mr. Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, were late paying their bills on automobiles in North Carolina and on their Raleigh home.

Ms. Palmieri acknowledged: “There have been times when some of the Edwards’ automobile and property taxes were paid late. Those taxes and appropriate penalties were paid in full years ago.”

She added that “Senator Edwards takes full responsibility for any of those bills that were paid late.”

Mr. Edwards and his wife bought the eight-bedroom, 6,672-square-foot Georgetown home last year. Since then, they have rented another home in the District while extensively renovating the 1820 home.

The Edwardses are trying to sell the house now, according to several published reports, though the house is not listed on the Multiple Listings Service used by area Realtors.

On the presidential campaign trail, Mr. Edwards often attacks President Bush for his tax cuts, which he says are designed to benefit only the wealthy.

“They have driven up the share of the tax burden for most working people and driven down the burden on the richest few,” Mr. Edwards said of the Bush administration at a speech in June at Georgetown University.

In a press release earlier this month, Mr. Edwards charged: “The reason deficits are growing and hard-working Americans’ property taxes and sales taxes are going up is because this president doesn’t know how to manage people’s money.”

Republicans in his home state were quick to react yesterday to the news of Mr. Edwards’ tax delinquency.

“This is absolutely disgraceful,” said Linda Daves, interim chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, in a statement. “This pattern of stunning irresponsibility with his public duties is count number one in the indictment of his ability and fitness for public office.”

Ms. Daves also jumped at the opportunity to draw a distinction between the multimillionaire personal-injury lawyer and his constituents.

“Senator, those ‘regular people’ that you claim so nobly to be running to represent pay their taxes,” she said. “The hypocrisy of your words versus your actions is simply overwhelming.”

In South Carolina, where Mr. Edwards was born and a state crucial to winning the presidential nomination, Republicans issued a release about “The Edwards Tax Plan” that “divides America into two categories.”

For “Regular Hard Working Americans: Repeal Bush tax cut, take money out of the pockets of hard working Moms and Dads and grow big Government.”

For “Filthy Rich U.S. Senators with Multi-Million Dollar Mansions: Eliminate property taxes. Don’t worry about paperwork. Just don’t pay them!”

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson said he was “impressed that one of the Democrats finally came out with a tax-cut plan.”

“And while we appreciate Senator Edwards’ new passion for lower taxes,” he said, “this kind of targeted tax relief is probably not the fair shake most hard-working regular Americans are looking for right now.”

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