Published: Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Rep. Blasdel owes state $50K, Petro says
The candidate's campaign disputes the attorney general's figure.
YOUNGSTOWN Attorney General Jim Petro said state Rep. Chuck Blasdel, a 6th Congressional District candidate, needs to pay about $50,000 to the state in estimated back taxes and fees.
Petro said Monday that Blasdel, of East Liverpool, a fellow Republican, needs to make "a substantial payment" to the state, and Blasdel's "going to have to borrow money to pay the debt."
The attorney general's office says Executive Cigar Inc. and Blasdel Cline Inc., two defunct businesses co-owned by Blasdel, owe $54,915.87 in estimated delinquent taxes and fees dating back to 1991.
"It's very clear he needs to pay this money quickly," Petro said. "He owes about $50,000 to the state."
Petro's office has discussed the issue with Blasdel, a financial adviser, and his campaign since this was first reported last month by The Vindicator. Blasdel and his campaign have insisted the state's estimated delinquent tax and fee figure is far off the mark.
Jessica Towhey, Blasdel's campaign spokeswoman, said Blasdel continues to work with the attorney general's office to resolve the situation. She maintains the amount the attorney general's office says Blasdel owes is "nowhere near the amount" Petro has estimated. "We've made significant progress," she adds.
Towhey said it wasn't appropriate to release the dollar figure until the issue is fully resolved. She expects that to happen shortly.
Petro said there is no doubt Blasdel owes money to the state.
He initially told the newspaper the money owed by Blasdel's business was "real debt." But Kim Norris, an attorney general spokeswoman, later called and said the debt was "estimated and not actual."
The state attorney general, on behalf of the Ohio Department of Taxation, filed 13 tax judgments between Nov. 24, 1995, and Aug. 8, 2001, against the two companies. The state never took the matter any further than filing the judgments in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.
Blasdel said he knew nothing about the judgments until The Vindicator told his campaign about them.
Ohio's 6th District is among a handful of closely contested congressional races in the country, according to national Democratic and Republican officials. The district leans Republican and is represented by U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lisbon Democrat who is vacating the post to run for governor this year.
Noble County Commissioner Danny Harmon of Quaker City, another Republican running in the 6th District, has requested that Petro appoint a special prosecutor to handle and investigate Blasdel's tax issue.
Petro, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, should step aside because he has contributed $1,000 to Blasdel's congressional campaign, Harmon said. Petro dismissed Harmon's request and accusation that the attorney general's office is showing favoritism to Blasdel.
"We haven't been easy on Blasdel," Petro said. "He's had no favorable treatment. We're holding his feet to the fire."
Petro said there are many people who owe money to the state, and it goes uncollected. But Petro said his office has collected about $1 billion in delinquent taxes and fees.
In addition to the nearly $55,000, there is $16,164.94 worth of liens for unpaid estimated tobacco taxes placed on Executive Cigar by the state taxation department. Blasdel's campaign provided documentation showing the tobacco tax for that time period was $525.84.