Allen West Not Paying Payroll Taxes on Campaign Workers

Categories: WTFlorida
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Congressman Allen West's campaign isn't paying its taxes.

The question, however, is if it owes any. A review of campaign finance disclosure documents shows West has spent well over $300,000 since the beginning of 2012 on consulting, staffers, and costs directly associated with his staff. But, while Democratic opponent Patrick Murphy, an accountant by trade with a significantly smaller grassroots campaign, has paid $11,547.41 in payroll taxes associated with campaign workers since January 1, West has paid exactly zero.

So -- is it possible to run one of the largest campaigns in the country, to raise almost $10 million for reelection at events from West Palm Beach to Los Angeles, without having a single employee?

It appears West is paying his campaign workers -- all of them -- as independent contractors or consultants, which would get him off the hook for paying those taxes and push the burden onto his workers. But the Internal Revenue Service has a very strict delineation between who is an employee and who is a contractor: If a person is giving you supplies, setting your hours, and overseeing your daily work, that person is an employer.

If a person is paid by the job ("fix my roof, here's your fee, hire your own people, and get your own supplies"), that's a contractor. If a person is paid a salary ("answer phones in my office from 9 to 5 and help me get elected"), that's usually an employee -- which, it would appear, is the case with at least several of West's workers, which, according to Fort Lauderdale accountant John Folson, would mean he's opened himself up to potential claims down the road for back taxes, fees, and penalties.

"It has to do with control," Folson said. "In a nutshell, an independent contractor is someone who you tell, 'All I care about is the finished product, and that's all I care about. I don't care what time you come into work, I don't care what you wear, I don't care how you achieve the end product.'"

But, it seems, at least several of those campaign workers would violate that detached system in which West would theoretically say, "Here's what I need. Get it done. See you in a month."

Take Timothy Edson, for example. He became West's campaign manager back in February, which would seem to be enough to show he's an employee -- he's quite obviously working at West's direction, and his expenses are West's expenses, and West reimbursed him $6,249.08 for relocation, temporary housing, and mileage.

There's more, however: Since his arrival, Edson has been paid $8,000 a month, every month, in line items described as "Administrative/Salary/Overhead: Salary." Salary equals employee, every time.

"They could have some explaining to do if they call it salary. Then the indication is that he's an employee," Folson said. "Obviously, if he is the campaign manager, the question becomes is he autonomous or is he taking direction from Allen West?"

Folson said "the only way it would be [allowable] is if he had very limited interaction with the congressperson's office and they basically hired him to go out and organize a campaign."

He continued, "But if he's reporting to them and letting them know what's going on and he's taking direction from them, then he's definitely an employee."

A potential way around it, however, is to work as a consultant -- essentially presenting yourself as a business providing a service. But that requires... being a business.

That appears to be what West finance director Catherine Faulkner is doing: She left her post as executive director of the Broward Republican Party in 2009 to serve as West's finance director in the 2010 elections. After West got into office, however, she didn't leave: She received a $5,000 payment in both February and March of 2011 that was classified as "salary" and another payment for "cell phone and catering" in April 2011. She then disappeared from documents.

April 2011, however, also happens to be the time Faulkner registered "Out Loud Strategies Inc." -- which immediately appeared on West's expense reports. He's paid Out Loud Strategies $255,000 since last April -- and Faulkner has appeared in campaign emails as "finance director" ever since.

The Federal Election Commission documents that contain West's payroll data were released on Sunday; on Monday, West sent his "weekly wrap-up" to supporters in which he criticized the 16th Amendment, which gave the federal government the power to levy taxes based on income, as a "progressive" invention of Woodrow Wilson. (It was actually passed by Congress and ratified under President William Howard Taft -- a Republican.)

He criticized the new taxes in the health-care law, saying, "In fact the entire tax code is now being used to further social policy... It is merely a means by which to redistribute wealth in America." He also called for the institution of a flat tax, which he has said could be a "bridging mechanism" to the shutdown of the IRS and the repeal of the 16th Amendment.

The bottom line is that West feels it abhorrent that the United States taxes Americans based on income. And it looks like he'll do whatever he can to avoid paying them.

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Not only is Allen West a tax dodger, he refuses to listen to the voices of his constituents. When a group of activists went to his office to deliver petitions and get his stance on increasing the minimum wage, they were met with ridicule and rancor. Watch the video of the protest and see what his staff has to say.

Lifelong Dem
Lifelong Dem

GOP freshman Allen West has released his second ad, a paean to "good education" in which he also deploys a few phrases that burgeoning conservatives start to fall in love with around the 10th grade. West says that in his upbringing in inner-city Atlanta, he had the choice between "economic freedom" and "economic dependency" (code for welfare, of course). He adds that "every child should have the equality of opportunity I did"—the opposite of which is "equality of result," which is code for "doing anything to help the less fortunate."Economic dependency? That's code for living off "big government" in the teabagger dictionary. Yet look at West's biography: He first went to a public university, the University of Tennessee, where he enjoyed a publicly subsidized education. He then joined the U.S. Army, where the American taxpayers took good care of him. Then, as he says in the ad, he became a public high school teacher. Guess who funded his paycheck?Of course, he couldn't hack it and only worked a single year as a high school teacher before he bailed out to work for ... a defense contractor. Those guys wouldn't exist without the U.S. taxpayer. Finally, he ended up in Congress, where his paycheck is covered by ... us, the taxpayers.In other words, he has never had a job where he wasn't living off the American taxpayer. According to his own tea party crowd, that's the very definition of "economic dependency." And that's supposed to be bad! (Even though it isn't ...) So go ahead and throw in "hypocrisy" into his pile of sins, though as a Republican, we could've assumed as much.Now the path to Speaker Nancy Pelosi goes straight through this district, so give $3 (or more!) to West's Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy.


This is FloriDUH, a right to work state. And just like every other right to work state, It's a right not to get paid state. Employers here are always trying to 1099 everyone so they don't have to pay any taxes or benefits. And when that doesn't work, they'll hire you for 89 days and lay you off and claim you were a part timer and pay no benefits. Asshole Allen is just doing what every body that supports him does.

Pete Pepper
Pete Pepper

Nice to know that the criminal West has yet to give up his law breaking ways.  Unfortunately once again he will avoid any prison time thanks to Governor Voldamort still being in control in the state of Florida. The sad thing is, if it was anyone that was not so right wing, they would be prosecuted.   

Chaz Stevens, Genius
Chaz Stevens, Genius

I may not go down in history, but I will go down on your sister. - Hank Moody

Rich Abdill
Rich Abdill

That's crazy -- do you know how expensive SCUBA gear is? I spend all my money on birth control and medicinal marijuana. You also didn't really address the issue, other than that this makes West look worse than Murphy in one very small way. As for Murphy being a "daddy's boy," I'm assuming your referring to the reports that his dad donated to the "anti-West super PAC." My question is, what was his dad supposed to do? He presumably wants his son to be elected to Congress -- he was given a way to do that by Republican opposition to campaign finance reform; why is it only dirty money when Democrats do it?

Ethan Oringel
Ethan Oringel

Check out Allen West's long record of LIES up at PolitiFact: Why the need to LIE to your constituents and to America, Rep West?!?!?! Enough is Enough. VOTE for PATRICK MURPHY in 2012!  

Ethan Oringel
Ethan Oringel

ALLEN WEST'S RECORD AT POLITIFACT: "Currently we have some 40-45% of Americans who are not paying any taxes." = MOSTLY FALSE "If you look at the application for a security clearance, I have a clearance that even the president of the United States cannot obtain because of my background." = PANTS ON FIRE LIE "We had an amendment in the health care law that said the federal government is going to take over education." = FALSE "China owns about 29 percent of (the U.S.) debt." = FALSE "This is the first time in the history that we've had the raising of a debt limit also with spending cuts." = FALSE "In the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it was the Democrats who cut $500 billion from Medicare. And they also put in place the Independent Payment Advisory Board, 15 unelected bureaucrats, which will be making decisions about health care for our seniors and for all Americans." = MOSTLY FALSE The EPA "wants to hire 230,000 new government regulators that will cost the taxpayer $21 billion." = FALSE About 78 to 81 House Democrats "are members of the Communist Party. ... It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus." = PANTS ON FIRE LIE An "Obamacare slush fund" paid to spay and neuter dogs and cats, then counted it as an "anti-obesity campaign." = FALSE   --------------------------- WHY THE NEED TO *LIE* TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, Rep West?!?!?! VOTE for PATRICK MURPHY in 2012!

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