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BLOG: More tax questions for Rep. Reed

BLOG:  13WHAM uncovers more tax questions for Rep. Tom Reed 

Sean Carroll, 13WHAM-TV
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Corning, Steuben County --- Last week Rep. Tom Reed (R, Corning) again made headlines, this time because the Buffalo News revealed he failed to pay his taxes on time 38 times since 2005.  

READ MORE: Rep. Reed late paying taxes 

13WHAM News dug deeper and found that on April 26, 2012 Congressman Reed paid one of those late tax bills with funds from his campaign account Tom Reed for Congress. That is against the law but a refund was promptly posted. 

The payment was for $4,247.83 and it was made to the Steuben County Treasurer.

Less than a month later, on May 22nd, FEC filings show that a refund to the campaign account was posted. It was marked as an inadvertent payment and text from an FEC Form 99 states the following:

On April 26, 2012, a campaign check (which was similar in appearance to a personal check) was mistakenly written to pay a $4,247.83 tax bill. Immediately upon discovery of the mistake, and within the same reporting period, the candidate reimbursed the campaign the same amount.

It was a mistake, clearly, and Ive been assured by those close to Rep. Reed that there was no malicious intent behind the error. I have also verified that Reed had sufficient funds in personal accounts to make this tax payment. This does not appear to be a situation where campaign funds were used to buy time until personal funds were available.

In short theres no comparing Reed to former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D Illinois) who is now on his way to prison for using hundreds of thousands of dollars from campaign funds on personal expenses and luxury purchases. 

READ MORE: Jesse Jackson Jr. sentenced to 30 months

So how does a mistake like this happen?

I reached out to a few people I know from other Congressional Campaigns (both Democrat & Republican) and the head-scratching was unanimous. One operative explained that, the campaign checkbook and the candidates personal checkbook shouldnt even be in the same room together. Another described it as shady or at the very least sloppy and explained that often a family member, spouse perhaps, is put in charge of bookkeeping for the campaign. With such a large expenditure, nobody told me there was an acceptable excuse for such a mistake.

Last Monday on a conference call with reporters a day after the Buffalo News report, Rep. Reed explained that he was late 38 times out of more than 500 payments he has made since 2005 on various personal and business-related properties. He pointed out that all payments plus late fees were paid in full. He further explained that certain House Ethics rules and guidelines prevent him from having a hands on role in certain business interests he has. (NOTE: Weve yet to determine what those specific interests are and what House Ethics guidelines recommend a hands off approach when it comes to ensuring that taxes are paid, and paid on time.)

Then Reed explained politics is the reason this story broke in the first place.

"This is something we're seeing across the country and across politics today is that if you can't run on your records you attack your opponent personally and you get in the game of character-assassination, Reed said on this August 19th conference call. "As a member of Congress I recognize that we should be held to a higher standard and that's why I accept the criticism here.

But Reed deflected when I asked him this question:

This is an oversight that happened dozens of times, what oversights in your Congressional duties or responsibilities are occurring?

Reeds Response: Well I think that's part of the petty politics, character-assassination that the people who are peddling this are hoping people will go down the path of. All I can tell you is I'm an open book.

I believe my question is just as relevant now as it was last week.

Statement from Tom Reed in response to this report:

This was an unfortunate clerical error and I take full responsibility for it. I immediately corrected the error by personally reimbursing my campaign account and at no time were there insufficient funds in my personal account to cover this erroneously written check from my campaign. Out of an abundance of caution, we promptly self-reported the error by issuing a statement for the public record to the FEC. We put new precautions and procedures in place in order to ensure this does not happen again.

  Documented actual payment in question:

                        Payment mistake

                         Explanation of Payment

                             explanation of payment (pictured above)

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