It’s hard to think of a public rollout that compares to the debacle that is the launch of Obamacare. But Ed Fitzgerald seems to be trying to match that with the rollout of his lieutenant governor pick, State Senator Eric Kearney.
We have chronicled the hurried bungle of an announcement last week, followed by a rushed 2-day state tour with embarrassing turnout they tried to tout as proof of momentum.
We thought that Friday’s revelation that Kearney owes tens of thousands of dollars in delinquent taxes to the IRS was the bombshell that capped off a humiliating week for Fitzdowngrade.
We were wrong.
Kearney also is delinquent on his state taxes as well, to the tune of $85,000. From the Columbus Dispatch:
Now, it turns out that the Democrats’ candidate for lieutenant governor, Sen. Eric Kearney of Cincinnati, not only owes the IRS thousands in back taxes, but also has a big tax debt to the state.
When Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, the likely Democratic candidate for governor, selected Kearney as his running mate on Wednesday, he was aware that Kearney owed thousands of dollars in back taxes tied to Sesh Communications, the company he owns with his wife that operates the Cincinnati Herald, an African-American weekly newspaper. Kearney and his wife, Jan Michele Kearney, are paying $1,000 a month to the IRS on an $84,000 tax debt.
But a Dispatch review of records at the Hamilton County recorder’s office shows the company also owes the state more than $85,000 in unpaid taxes.
It appears that very little vetting was done by the Fitzgerald campaign when Kearney was selected. Remember, the Kearney announcement came within hours of an article by the Plain Dealer’s Henry Gomez. Gomez detailed Fitz’s struggle to garner support from black Democrats, even within his home county, amid rumors that he told Congresswoman Marcia Fudge that he didn’t need her support to get the black vote in Northeast Ohio.
Did Fitzgerald overreact and seek to blunt such criticism by selecting a black candidate for his ticket without properly vetting him? It certainly appears to be a possibility.
The news of the newly discovered state back taxes gets even worse.
When interviewing Kearney about the delinquent federal taxes, Gomez asked him if there was anything else. Kearney said no.
But obviously there was something else, and Kearney lied to Gomez during his interview. That’s not going to help his credibility.
The entire past week for the Fitzgerald campaign smacks of amateurism. This kind of press may make large outside donors, like the DGA, think twice about fully committing to Fitzgerald’s campaign. And as we’ve mentioned before, Fitzgerald could be lagging far behind Kasich in the amount he can spend to get his message out. It will be something to watch.
Finally, I thought it fitting to mention that since the story of Kearney’s unpaid taxes came out, ODP Communications Director Jerid Kurtz hasn’t directed a single #TaxCheat tweet towards Matt Borges. He must realize how ridiculous he looks after hundreds of barbs directed towards Borges, and now has to convince Ohio voters that the same barrage of criticism shouldn’t be directed at the top of his own ticket.