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Brown, Whitman each have had tax issues

July 28, 2010 |  2:10 pm

Always pay your taxes, especially if you’re a political candidate.

That small lesson in Politics 101 was on display in the governor’s race this week as Democratic nominee Jerry Brown accused his Republican rival Meg Whitman of being a “tax dodger” when she lived in Massachusetts in the 1990s.

Because of what her campaign described as a clerical mistake, Whitman failed to pay $304.15 in unemployment taxes for her household help back then. She had moved to California and made good in short order after the state filed a judgment against her. Now it appears that Brown has his own tax issue.

In 1998, the Alameda County tax collector filed a lien against Brown’s warehouse loft in Oakland for $1,416.50 in “unpaid unsecured property taxes.” He paid in full and the lien was released. Like Whitman, Brown’s campaign said the unpaid taxes were an honest mistake, the result of transferring partial ownership of his loft to his parents and his We the People foundation in 1995.

Spokesman Sterling Clifford said the transfer created an unanticipated “supplemental property tax bill,” which Brown paid shortly after the county filed a lien. All of this has us wondering: When’s that first debate?

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

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