Kearney Vows To Stay on Democratic Ticket Despite Tax Issues
State senator Eric Kearney insisted on Wednesday that his tax issues do not disqualify him to be Lt. Governor and vowed to stay on the Democratic ticket with Ed FitzGerald.
"This has not, nor as it ever been, a matter of myself or my wife failing to pay our personal income taxes," said Kearney. "Our relationship with the IRS has been cordial and cooperative."
Kearney says he and his wife owe around $825,000 in federal and state taxes, most linked to KGL media, a publisher of African American papers.
"This disclosure is unprecedented and goes beyond anything required by state ethics laws," said Kearney. "Our finances have been an open book to the campaign."
Kearney was announced as FitzGerald’s running mate two weeks ago.
He answered questions about his taxes for about two hours. At times reporters could hear whispering to Kearney as he answered questions.
FitzGerald, who did not participate in the telephone call, had been asked by reporters this past week what he knew about Kearney's taxes and when did he know it.
Kearney insisted that he was fully vetted and that he told the campaign about his tax issues
"To be clear I provided all of this information to the campaign," said Kearney. "I'm in to stay. My wife and I made the decision that we're going to do this and we're going to do it."
Republicans were quick to criticize the Democratic ticket.
"I think that this situation is symbolic of the underwhelming campaign of Fitzgerald," said GOP strategist Bob Clegg. "When you look at this in addition to the amateur campaign press conference kickoff and the pathetic fundraising numbers this summer, it all adds up to a statewide candidate that is in over his head."
Earlier this year, the Ohio Democratic Party regularly attacked Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges calling him a "tax-cheat" and directing reporters to articles about his back taxes.
Republicans, pointing out Kearney will be on a statewide ticket not just leading a political party, have been quick to return fire.
"We've learned that FitzGerald thinks his running mate's tax issues aren't a big deal," said Chris Schrimpf, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party. "FitzGerald, a proud FBI agent, clearly ran a bad process and came to a poor a decision. If FitzGerald fails his only decision as a candidate, he is clearly nowhere near ready to be a statewide officeholder."