Granite Staters still waiting for answers in Kuster tax dustup
By now it should be no secret to the New Hampshire news-reading public that newly-elected 2nd District Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster – who has a net worth of nearly $2 million – has trouble paying her taxes.
WMUR broke the story on Monday, reporting that Kuster owed close to $11,000 in unpaid property taxes, both on her NH residence and a White Mountains vacation property. More than that, she has apparently been delinquent in paying nearly $40,000 over the past several years.
Then, lo and behold, Kuster managed to pony up as soon as her tax problems became public, quickly paying off her debt. So it wasn’t as if she didn’t have the money – which begs the question of why a politician who openly advocates raising taxes was unwilling to pay her “fair share” when – unlike many Americans – she could clearly afford it.
Thus began a weeklong strategy of silence and subterfuge by Kuster and her allies.
As WMUR’s James Pindell wrote in his initial report, “Kuster spokesman Rob Friedlander didn’t offer a reason why the Kusters were so often behind in paying property taxes.”
Even the Concord Monitor, which at many times during the past election cycle acted as a veritable propaganda machine for Kuster, acknowledged the gravity of the issue from a journalistic standpoint, with the Monitor’s Felice Belman writing, “Yes, we got beaten by WMUR, and that’s never good. But shame on us – and WMUR and the rest of the state press corps – for not doing such a basic records check before the November election.”
While the astonishing inability of the media and candidate vetters on both sides of the aisle to miss this crucial piece of information before Kuster was elected is nothing short of astonishing, now the question needs to be why, if there is anything close to an innocent explanation for the oversight, Kuster is keeping mum.
As Pindell wrote in his Friday column, “Not paying your taxes on time is bad. Doing it for 3 years straight is worse. However, not having an easy, digestible explanation as to her tardiness is what has caused this story to grow legs and drag on. In her first real test in Congress, Kuster whiffed.”
Repeated inquiries from multiple media outlets across the state and country have met with silence fro the Kuster camp. This goes beyond politics or even policy; it is a violation of the public trust. Kuster’s 2nd District constituents have a right to know why their elected representative, who has called for higher taxes, didn’t pay her own until she was caught red handed by the media.
It’s unclear to this editorial board exactly what Kuster’s strategy is here. She will eventually have to answer questions the next time she appears in New Hampshire for a public event – assuming she plans to do so. It seems, even to the most casual of observers, that it would be better to provide a thoughtful and thorough explanation now rather than later.
As the old adage goes, the truth will out, and Kuster can be sure that Granite Staters will be watching.