Gutter tactics smear politics itself |

Gutter tactics smear politics itself

Don Rogers

A letter writer digging through tax files wants to know why Tom Stone has amassed some $45,000 in income tax liens. Well, she doesn’t really want to know. The answer is entirely unsatisfying to her and fellow gutter-dwellers. She just wants to embarrass the commissioner and get people who should know better to vote for a different candidate, for the wrong reasons.

Democrats who really ought to behave better are gleefully whispering the same question, with eyebrows arched appropriately. Check it out, they suggest.

OK, we did. The liens go back to the 1980s, when Stone’s wife needed surgery and the Stones did not have adequate medical insurance. Stone says he made a mistake: He paid the medical bills before paying the government. He eventually was able to pay his tax bills, and the first set of liens were cleared. Years later, the feds made a clerical error and filed a lien for the same taxes Stone already paid. The mistake was cleared up and the lien released again.

Same story with state taxes. Stone insists he’s paid them all. But there’s one last state lien filed in March 2002. Stone says he didn’t even know about that one, but as of this writing believes that’s another clerical error and he’s paid off all his taxes.

All this information was public record back in 1998 for Stone’s first race, but the opposition either didn’t check or had just enough class to understand this baloney has no place in election campaigns. We’re talking the ’80s here, folks.

For the yo-yos who suggest I’m grumping about this out of untoward protectionist instincts for a favored candidate, I assure you my motives are simpler, and angrier: This slimeball attacking of people’s personal lives and being deceitful about candidates’ views and voting records is revolting.

A year ago at this time, the GOP faithful and more than a few VFW members were mighty put out at me for taking the commissioner to task for weeks about that anti-terrorism resolution nonsense. So no, I’m not too concerned about assertions I’m a Republican apologist. I haven’t been overly timid about speaking out, and I don’t think I’m the apologist in this case.

I am disgusted with the politics of whispered crap about candidates, whether a Democrat running for sheriff, a Republican running for commissioner or anyone running for anything, frankly. It stinks. I hope the voters manage somehow to convince the liars and gossips that this stuff is not welcome in our small community. Enough already!

Yes, it’s long been the standard in the national races for Congress and the presidency. Wayne Allard and Tom Strickland have lowered themselves by failing to take control of their campaigns. The only candidate in this election I’ve seen speak forcefully against crappo stuff carried out on his behalf is sheriff candidate Joe Hoy, who truly sounds every bit as disgusted as I feel.

The big boys I’m not so concerned about, but I do have to take the Eagle County Republican Party’s attack ad on Rep. Mark Udall to task. Their ad is more lame than anything, but it misleads in implying Udall is against the Marriage Penalty Act or repeal of the “death tax.”

They find their shred of truth in the congressman’s record when he voted against the comprehensive Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, which happened to include provisions for the marriage penalty and repeal of the death tax. In committee he voted for both. I know the Republicans are hardly innocents.

But the Eagle County Democrats couldn’t even get to the voting record of their nemesis, Stone – instead taking stray quotes and manufacturing overall positions that the commissioner didn’t take. They were deceitful, and they remain deceitful if they claim he opposed positions he in fact voted for, and held for years. These folks really need some quality time looking long and hard at themselves in the mirror.

What’s weird is it would be simpler to just be accurate in fact and context with a candidate’s record to demonstrate real differences between the people running for the same seat. Why go below the belt?

So the irony of ironies is the commissioner who is often quite rightfully tagged as being the most overtly political animal is running the clean race. He’s just not going to the gutter, and so far he’s keeping his supporters from going there, tempting as he says it’s beginning to get.

You tell me which camp in the run for commissioner is conducting the more honorable race.

Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555.

, ext. 600, or

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