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Kirk on tightrope blasting Giannoulias on taxes; GOP Brady paid nothing too

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By Abdon M. Pallasch

Sun-Times Political Reporter
CHICAGO--U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk walked a tightrope Tuesday, trying to criticize his opponent, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, for paying no taxes on his state salary while not criticizing Kirk's fellow Republican, gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady, for doing the same thing.

"The only difference between Brady and Giannoulias is that the Giannoulias family transferred this tremendous $300 million dollar bill to the FDIC, and Treasurer Giannoulias wants to raise your taxes," Kirk said, referring to the cost to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for taking over Giannoulias' family's collapsed Broadway Bank.

In a statement likely to cause inconvenience for Brady, Kirk added, "I think that if you are depending on a salary paid by taxpayers, you ought to pay tax."

And in another statement that could come back to hit the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Jason Plummer, Kirk said, "All statewide [candidates] should release their tax returns." Brady initially refused to release his tax returns but relented. Plummer still has not released his and says he won't.

Giannoulias released his tax returns late Friday, revealing that he paid no taxes on his $119,000 state treasurer salary because he lost half his net worth -- millions of dollars -- when his family bank collapsed.

Brady paid no salary on his $80,000 a year state senate salary because of losses in his family business.

"I paid over $40,000 in taxes last year," Kirk said. "The thought of someone who's worth over $7 million not paying any income tax is ... distasteful. The decisions he made helped lead to the collapse of that bank."

Giannoulias' campaign said Giannoulias has paid $2 million in taxes over the last five years and only supports a state income tax hike if it is offset by a property tax decrease.

Kirk's called a news conference Tuesday to push a plan for heavier fines on cities that discharge sewage into Lake Michigan.

"Each year more than 24 billion gallons of sewage are dumped into the Great Lakes." Kirk said.

Does that mean local officials should let people's basements flood rather than release storm overflows into the Lake?

Let them release it but let them pay fines for releasing it, Kirk said.

Kirk declined to discuss another claim he made of getting shot at while on active duty in the Naval reserves.

Earlier this year Kirk told the Sun-Times, "Last year, I was with a Dutch armor unit in Kandahar, getting shot at and being calm, cool and collected. We each had this kind of Dutch candy called 'drop.' I went through about 3000 calories getting what they call 'nervous in the service.'"

But Tuesday, when asked several times at his news conference if he stood by that assertion, Kirk would only repeat that from now on he would say nothing beyond what's in his fitness reports when it comes to his war record.

This follows Kirk getting national notoriety for having to admit he did not actually know if he was shot at flying over Kosovo and Iraq.

Among other issues Kirk declined to take a stand on Tuesday: How he would vote on Elena Kagan's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court; whether he supports Arizona crackdown against illegal aliens or whether he support's the Justice Department's legal challenge to that crackdown.

Kirk said National GOP Chair Michael Steele should "re-assess" whether he can continue to be an effective chairman of the party after getting caught calling Afghanistan a "war of choice" for President Obama.

Kirk and Giannoulias both said Tuesday that they agree with Attorney General Lisa Madigan that the lawsuit seeking to shoehorn a special election into the waning days of Barack Obama's senate seat so that someone -- presumably one of them -- could serve out the last month, makes no sense.

"Common sense would let Sen. Burris serve out the remainder of the Obama term," Kirk said.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on July 6, 2010 6:24 PM.

David Axelrod headlining Giannoulias fund-raiser July 25 was the previous entry in this blog.

Kirk still mulling Kagan, Obama health care repeal; stumping in Collinsville, Quincy, Springfield is the next entry in this blog.

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