Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another reason Minnesota sucks


"Democrats care so much more for the poor than Republicans do. We Democrats give them money. Republicans tell them to get a job and support themselves. Yeah, right."

--Al Franken

Al Franken's career as an entertainer made him famous and rich and positioned him to run for the U.S. Senate.

But now, just as he appears on the verge of securing the DFL endorsement to take on Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, Franken could be tripped up by missteps in the way his show business enterprise was run.

Republicans, who for more than a year have eagerly unearthed controversial tidbits from Franken's comedy routines and books, have in recent weeks discovered several slip-ups in the celebrity's business life. On Thursday, they claimed to have found another possible irregularity, a charge that has yet to be resolved.

On Friday, Franken's campaign manager, Andy Barr, declined to say whether Franken had paid taxes on earnings in California between 2003 and 2007.

He said Franken's accountant is working with California officials to sort things out.

The latest Republican charge that Franken's taxes there have gone unpaid comes in the wake of earlier disclosures that Franken failed to pay workers' compensation and disability premiums in New York and botched the dissolution of his California corporation.

Since then, Franken has paid more than $25,000 in fines to New York and still owes more than $4,700 in corporate taxes and fines to California.

Franken supporters on Friday downplayed their candidate's corporate scrapes.

"I could be wrong, but anybody who has a little problem dealing with taxes has someone's sympathy," said former Gov. Wendell Anderson, who has endorsed Franken. "It's not a very sexy issue."

But state Republican Party Chairman Ron Carey said the issue will matter greatly to the millions of Minnesotans who follow the rules.

"I don't think Minnesotans want a U.S. Senator who doesn't pay his taxes," Carey said. "Why do Hollywood celebrities think there is one set of rules for them and one set of rules for everyone else when it comes to paying taxes?"

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