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Pete Stark Almost Pulls a Fast One on Maryland Taxpayers

John on February 2, 2010 at 11:15 pm

On Christmas Eve a leaked report indicated that Rep. Pete Stark was under investigation by the house ethics committee. Last week the committee cleared Stark of any wrongdoing (big surprise!).

However, the Hill reports that there was evidence that Stark lied on a tax form he submitted to Maryland state, claiming he was registered to vote in Maryland when he in fact votes in California. His goal was apparently to secure a tax credit of several thousand dollars. But when another Representative was reported in the press to have pulled the same stunt (getting the credit he wasn’t eligible for), Stark called Maryland and “corrected” his answer:

The OCE further pointed out that Stark changed his answer to one of the questions on the application two days after the first press report appeared about a member of Congress improperly receiving the homestead tax credit.

In its report, the OCE included a screen shot of Stark’s online application. The application includes a typed notation documenting Stark’s March 16 call the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation to change his answer about whether he is registered to vote in Maryland from yes to no.

“Mr. Stark called to change answer to question #4 from yes to no. 3/16/09,” the note said. “If anyone has questions about this file, you should contact Robert Young in administration. Do not answer questions about this file.”

Robert Young is the associate director of the state’s Department of Assessments and Taxation.

A report about whether Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) improperly received the Maryland homestead tax credit appeared in The New York Times March 14. Maryland revoked Engel’s eligibility and in the article a state official said her office is reviewing the eligibility of other members of Congress who own property in Montgomery County and claim the credit.

So the ethics committee says no harm, no foul since Stark never received the credit. I say his call to correct his answer on the form shows it wasn’t just an oversight. He was aware of what he’d done and the need to fix it.

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