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Democrats Get Tax-Free Gas From Denver

From The Rocky Mountain News:

DNC host’s tax-free gas

Angry reaction brings a halt to use of city pumps

Daniel J. Chaconand Kevin Vaughan, Rocky Mountain News
July 23, 2008

The committee hosting the Democratic National Convention has used the city’s gas pumps to fill up and apparently avoided paying state and federal fuel taxes.

The practice, which began four months ago, may have ended hours after its disclosure. An aide to Mayor John Hickenlooper [photo at right] released a statement Tuesday evening saying that Denver 2008 Host Committee members would pay market prices for fuel and would also be liable for all applicable taxes.

However, Public Works spokeswoman Christine Downs told City Council members just hours before that host committee members were fueling up at the city pumps. The city does not pay taxes on the fuel for its fleet, and Downs said the host committee would not either.

The disclosure brought immediate scrutiny. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the practice “would seem” to be illegal and referred the matter to the state Department of Revenue.

Nonprofits, such as the host committee, are subject to state and federal gasoline taxes, according to the Department of Revenue.

The issue arose during the regular weekly meeting of Hickenlooper and City Council members. Downs requested authorization for a contract so the Public Works Department could be reimbursed by the host committee for use of “fueling facilities, fuel and car washes.”

Downs said the contract with the host committee started in March and that $9,700 in fuel and services had been purchased from the city so far. But the committee has yet to be billed. The city anticipates $466,125 in total revenues from the contract, Downs said.

City Councilman Charlie Brown raised the question of whether the host committee would be paying fuel taxes, and Downs said it wouldn’t.

“There’s something there that just doesn’t seem right to me because, in a sense, you’re saying then that the officials who pass the laws are not willing to live by them,” said Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz.

Hickenlooper said the practice isn’t unique to Denver.

“I do know for a fact that they’re doing the same exact thing in Minneapolis,” Hickenlooper said, referring to the city that along with St. Paul is hosting the Republican National Convention.

But Teresa McFarland, a spokeswoman for the Minneapolis-St. Paul host committee, said its members are getting their gas at public pumps.

“We’re not getting a tax break on fuel,” she said. “That’s not the setup at this end.”

In Colorado, consumers pay 40.4 cents per gallon in state and federal fuel taxes

The host committee, which is responsible for raising money to put on the convention, is using the city’s pumps “for safety and security reasons,” Lopez said.

“We know the gas is not tainted,” he said. “We use it as a safety and security measure.”

Hickenlooper said GM is “loaning” the host committee vehicles and he expects a large number to be hybrids. It wasn’t clear Tuesday whether host committee members are using those loaners or their personal vehicles

After the meeting, Faatz said it was wrong for the DNC host committee to get a tax break.

“I am just troubled by not having the payment of taxes for what I consider to be a privately funded party, and that’s what the host committee is: it’s a private organization,” she said.

“If you’ve got a 14-gallon tank, on the average, that’s about $5.66 that they don’t have to pay for fill up,” Brown said.

Brown also questioned the need for car washes.

It also wasn’t clear Tuesday whether the Department of Revenue will investigate.

“We can’t talk about any individual taxpayer’s circumstance,” said department spokesman Mark Couch. “Tax-exempt organizations are not exempt from fuel taxes, so a nonprofit group is not exempt from fuel taxes. As to the individual circumstance involved here, we’d have to look into it and investigate to make any kind of determination.”

Denis Berckefeldt, spokesman for Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher, said Hickenlooper’s administration has been guilty in the past of doing business before a contract is executed.

Is it unusual that it happens?” he asked. “No, because they do stuff like this. Do we like it? No.” …

It turns out that John “Love Child” Edwards is right. There really are two Americas.

The one with special rules for Democrats and the one for the rest of us.

And note their excuses when they got caught red-handed. They had to do it for “security reasons.”

Also note how quickly they falsely accused the Republicans of doing it, too.

Do we really want these thugs to be entirely in charge of the federal government?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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