by Max Brantley
The parade of tax deadbeats continues, with a report in the Democrat-Gazette on Q. Byrum Hurst's multiple tax deficiencies. The 4th District congressional candidate has a long list. One of his Democratic opponents, D.C. Morrison, also found himself on the wrong end of a tax deficiency filing once. These reports add to recent woes of Sen. Joyce Elliott.
It is a familiar tale in public life. You wonder why others don't do as 1st District Democratic candidate congressional Scott Ellington did — get out in front of the record when they know one exists. He volunteered a past tax deficiency on announcing in that race.
A quick check of tax liens mentions in the Arkansas Times and memory recalls, among others, a community-beloved multi-millionaire, a former gubernatorial candidate (Republican), a circuit judge (non-partisan), a lawyer later elected prosecutor (Republican), a Republican who sued over state officials' publicly provided cars, a current state legislator (Republican), a former state legislator (Democrat), a former state legislator and attorney general candidate (Republican), a political activist working to defeat Sen. Mark Pryor, a candidate for sheriff. Throw in bankruptcies and unpaid medical bills and you'd add a sitting Republican congressman to the list of occasional deadbeats.
Sloppy bookkeeping all, at a minimum (although it's possible the government can make mistakes, believe it or not). Some deserve stronger criticism for failure to pay when the issue is not taxes owed on their own income or property, but money they withheld from employees' paychecks or from sales revenues. They collected money from others and then spent it on themselves. This can start to sound like theft rather than a case of the shorts.
The interesting thing is how many public officials have been elected before, during or after publicized tax problems.