theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Goolsbee's Tweet About Koch Brothers' Taxes

Why did a former White House official delete a statement about the Koch brothers' taxes?



In August 2010, Austan Goolsbee, serving at the time as economic adviser to President Obama, told reporters during an anonymous background briefing that Koch Industries doesn't pay corporate income taxes. That statement was made at the same time that top Democrats, including President Obama himself, were demonizing Charles and David Koch, the owners of Koch Industries, for giving money to Tea Party groups. Goolsbee's remark led to a federal investigation, the results of which have never been released.
In a September 2010 WEEKLY STANDARD interview, Mark Holden, a lawyer for Koch Industries, disputed Goolsbee's claim and asked how Goolsbee came up with the idea that Koch Industries doesn't pay corporate taxes. Holden raised the question of whether someone in the Obama administration might have looked at Koch Industries' tax returns--which would be a violation of a federal law that was enacted in 1976 in response to Watergate.
A letter from Republican senators led to an investigation by Treasury inspector general J. Russell George. But after the investigation was completed, George wrote in an October 2011 letter to Senator Charles Grassley that, due to confidentiality provisions of the law, he could not tell Grassley if anyone had illegally accessed Koch Industries tax returns or if the inspector general had taken any actions following his investigation. The inspector general wrote that the only members of Congress who can access confidential tax information are the chairperson of the Senate Finance Committee and chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Without the inspector general's report, we don't know where the White House came up with the claim that Koch Industries doesn't pay corporate income taxes. But earlier this month, Austan Goolsbee offered a new explanation in light of the unfolding IRS scandal. Goolsbee wrote on Twitter: 
@joerepublic1 there was no secret info on koch bros. It came fr/… but was a mistake--one of the other Koch bros.
— Austan Goolsbee (@Austan_Goolsbee) May 14, 2013
If true, that's an embarrassing explanation of Goolsbee's 2010 remarks. The article Goolsbee cited as the basis for his false* claim that Charles and David Koch don't pay federal corporate income taxes was a 2003 St. Petersburg Times report that a different Koch brother did not pay corporate taxes to the state of Florida. Imagine if a senior Bush administration official made a false claim about George Soros's taxes during an election because he read an old article written about some guy named Jimmy Soros.

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