Democratic State Auditor: Graves Owes Back Taxes

Posted October 7, 2008 at 2:54pm

With four weeks to go until Election Day, Missouri Democrats and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) are sparring over private airplanes that a top state revenue official claims Graves isn’t paying taxes on. But the lawmaker and the local tax collector say the fleet is a worthless pile of spare parts.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Missouri Auditor Susan Montee (D) accused Graves of failing to “lead by example” by not paying property taxes on two of his airplanes, which do not appear on tax records provided to Roll Call.

“He has failed to do so and needs to step up immediately and pay his back taxes,” Montee said in a statement. “It seems that Congressman Graves has been in Washington so long that he knowingly ignores the tax laws of Missouri.”

Montee did not say how much money Graves owes the state.

The four-term lawmaker is locked in a tight re-election battle with former two-term Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes (D), an early Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recruit and an EMILY’s List candidate.

But in an interview, Atchison County Assessor Lori Jones, who tallies Graves’ tax bill, said the two planes are salvage aircraft that she “wouldn’t value for taxing purposes.”

“Sometimes people will take parts off of these planes to repair other planes. At one time they were complete airplanes, but [now] they are salvage and not operable,” Jones said. “I’ve verified everything and entirely satisfied with everything.”

“I’m a Democrat,” she added. “But Sam didn’t do anything out of line here.”