"Good for Me (Not Thee)" Haunts the NDPby Kyle Michaelis
Republicans fired back Wednesday at Democratic critics of Pete Ricketts' property tax protest, saying Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson did the same thing 21 years ago.
Nelson purchased his Omaha home in 1984 for $345,000. A year later, he filed a protest after the house was assessed at $256,500. Nelson prevailed, and the property's valuation was lowered to $220,000.
Mark Fahleson, a spokesman for the state GOP, said it was "hypocritical and deceitful" of Nelson and the Democratic Party to criticize GOP Senate candidate Ricketts in television and newspaper advertisements for doing the same thing Nelson had done earlier.
A Nelson spokeswoman responded that Republicans were comparing "apples to oranges," and that the two protests were not comparable.
Spokeswoman Marcia Cady also disclosed that Nelson successfully contested the valuation of his Washington, D.C., town house three times in the last three years....
Ricketts came under fire from the Democratic Party earlier this month for contesting his Omaha home valuation. He bought a house in 1999 for $1.2 million. He filed a protest in 2002, asking that the house be valued at $625,000. The county dropped it to $900,000.
He filed another protest this year when the county gave notice that his house's assessed valuation would be increased by 32 percent. He lost.
The State Democratic Party bought newspaper advertisements that used a Dr. Seuss-style rhyme and cartoon to criticize Ricketts.
Nelson said that Ricketts' valuation protest, along with the Republican's comments suggesting consideration of a national sales tax, was the beginning of a pattern.
"My opponent wants to pay less so others can pay more," Nelson said at an Omaha press conference Monday.
Fahleson said Nelson had been "dishonest" by not disclosing his own valuation protests. He called on Nelson to apologize to voters and for the State Democratic Party to pull advertisements critical of Ricketts....
Cady argued that there were key differences in the two protests. First, she said, Nelson had prevailed all four times. She also said Nelson did not argue that his property was worth half the purchase price.
Exactly how much Nelson argued that his home was worth in 1985 wasn't available Wednesday. His original written protest could not be found in the Douglas County Clerk's Office.
Cady said Nelson would not apologize. Barry Rubin, executive director of the State Democratic Party, said they would not withdraw any advertisements.
"Pete Ricketts has every right to protest his valuation. He does not have the right to say his home is worth half of what he paid for it," Rubin said.
This was entirely avoidable and should never have happened. Never.
This is not Apples and Oranges. This is maybe a case of Red Delicious and Braeburns, but even that seems a bit of a stretch.
2 quick pointers: 1)There is nothing magical about the 50% valuation, and voters will not be convinced that there is; 2)Nelson's perfect record in protesting his assessments is not helpful. If anything, it portrays him as more of an insider who's even better than Ricketts at gaming the system. Right now, Nelson is known to have succeeded at getting his '85 valuation reduced to 64% of what he paid for the home - that's a hell lot better (or worse, from Nelson's current standpoint) than Ricketts has ever been able to manage.
Stop defending. Get off the damn subject. After all, this was never about Pete Ricketts' property taxes - it's about the national sales tax and Pete Ricketts continually putting his own self-interest before the interests of Nebraska's middle-class families. The whole property tax fiasco was only intended to illustrate this larger point.
If the facts accompanying the Nebraska Democratic Party's spiffy new ad are to be believed, the national sales tax Ricketts has advocated would reduce his taxes by 2/3rds while raising the tax burden on 95% of Nebraskans. Ben Nelson would never advocate an idea so ludicrous.
End of story.
And now, with a straight face, ask yourself - are Nebraska Democrats trying to lose this election?