Democratic nominee Bill Enyart in the 12th U.S. House race accused GOP rival Jason Plummer on Friday of claiming an owner-occupancy tax exemption for a home in Edwardsville where he does not live.
Enyart said in a telephone press conference that Plummer applied for and received the homestead exemption for a house he has owned for several years in Edwardsville, which is not in the 12th District, after he moved to a duplex near the Fairview Heights-OFallon border.
Enyart said Plummers continued efforts to shave $6,000 off the assessed value of his property in Edwardsville through the homestead exemption is an example of "Plummer bending the rules to make himself wealthier.
Plummer's campaign, in an initial written response, did not address Enyart's charges directly, but labeled them "factually inaccurate" and part of a campaign of "distractions."
In a subsequent written Friday evening, the Plummer campaign said "the homestead exemption is automatic and is applied to the 2012 taxes for the year 2011. Jason Plummer lived in the house in 2011, so he received the homestead exemption. When he pays his property taxes in 2013 for the year of 2012 -- when he didn't live there -- he will not take the exemption. This is common sense. The fact that Bill Enyart is 'attacking' Jason Plummer for following the law shows just what a desperate and frivolous campaign he is running. Jason Plummer will continue to run a campaign based on the issues."
According to Madison County documents, Plummers homestead exemption was renewed on March 26, 2012, after he moved to St. Clair County, a check by the News-Democrat showed.
Under congressional rules, U.S. House members are not required to live in the district they represent.
We cannot afford Plummers politics in Washington, D.C., Enyart said. The working people of this district, the people who go out every day to a job, and pay their taxes and do what's right, cannot afford Jason Plummer representing us in Congress.
During the teleconference, Enyart also: accused Plummer of labeling his campaign staff as independent contract workers, rather than employees, in order to save money on payroll taxes, including workers compensation insurance and Social Security. used non-union workers on an electrical project, for a company owned by Plummer's family, who were paid half of what union electricians would get and without benefits.
In both written statements Friday, Plummer did not address these accusations.
"Plummer is not for the middle class or the working people," Enyart said. "He is making his own rules. And this is a problem that we have in Washington, D.C." Plummer, 30, and Enyart, 63, are vying with Green Party candidate Paula Bradshaw, 59, to replace U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, in the Nov. 6 election. Costello is retiring after 24 years in office.