HD-40: Steve Newgard, taxes, tuition, and hypocrisy

By Thomas Crawford of Portland, Oregon. Thomas is a full time student and part-time politics junkie at the University of Puget Sound, where he studies U.S. Politics and Creative Writing. Previously, he contributed "The Real Lesson of the Palm Springs Trip".

Oregon Republican House candidate Steve Newgard (running in HD-40 against Democratic candidate Brent Barton) says he stopped paying his taxes so he could pay for his son’s college tuition outright. As a college student myself, I understand how difficult it can be to afford skyrocketing tuition costs. Fortunately, there are several ways that students today can manage the steep costs of higher ed. I, for example, took out loans which will likely haunt me well into middle age, and am working graveyard shifts as a campus security employee. My mother and father scrimp and save to help ensure I get an education as well; it is a hardship for them and for their middle class incomes, but they manage.

Newgard, however, has come up with a different method for paying for his son’s college: he stopped paying taxes on his home, his income, and a million dollar investment property.

Boy, do I feel silly. If I had known all my folks and I had to do to get out of paying taxes was say “Gosh, college is expensive,” that would have been my first choice.

If this article so far seems overly sarcastic or snide, I apologize, but the sarcasm is the only thing keeping my eyes from bleeding as I gaze upon this man’s hypocrisy. I might be a little more understanding if Newgard hadn’t already distributed campaign literature reading “Vote for people and policies that grow jobs so we can generate the tax dollars to fund education and other services that are essential.” Way to put your money where your mouth is, Steve.

Newgard has said in an interview with Willamette Week that his failure to pay taxes is “nothing to be proud of,” but he misses the point. Times are tough, and even as the economy slowly recovers, people are still going to have financial trouble. What’s upsetting about Newgard’s case is that he holds up his desire to pay for his son’s college as if it’s a viable defense. It’s not. You take out loans, you put in a few extra hours where you can, and you make sure you pay your bills.

For every other family, taxes aren’t optional.

If Newgard is having so much trouble budgeting his personal expenses, how can we expect him to do anything for the Oregon economy down in Salem? It’s impossible to hide from the truth on this one: we can’t.

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    Not everyone has a rolodex or a bank account as large as Brent's daddy.

    There are a lot of working families who are contractors who have run into tough times during the last several years. If I had to choose between being late on my taxes and making payroll or sending my kid to college, it would be an easy decision.

    Brent Barton was born into privilege. He has no more business than Mittens Romney criticizing others who have fallen on hard times. It's a sleazy campaign tactic, yet sadly one that is wholly consistent with his M.O.

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      I find it incomprehensible that you can defend or support a candidate for the legislature that intentionally does not pay their tax obligations while running for an office that will give him a role in setting how other people's tax dollars are spent. Somewhere along the way he made money but didn't pay his taxes or owns property he cannot afford. If he has assets he should sell them to pay his obligations. He is just stealing from the rest of us.

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        I think it's bogus outrage John. Kurt Schrader was late paying taxes due to similar cash flow issues. I notice that didn't stop you from making financial contributions to his campaign. as with Schrader, Newgard has paid his taxes late, but he has paid them. If I were in a similar circumstance and had to choose between a late tax payment versus making payroll or sending my child to college, I would make the same decision Newgard did. as I said, it's a sleazy tactic from Barton and his allies. I hope that it backfires on them as it did when the R's used it on Congressman Schrader in 2010.

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          You are guilty of making a false comparison. The voters have known about the Schrader's financial hard times for quite awhile. This candidate is wealthy enough to pay both his child's tuition and taxes. He simply chooses not to pay taxes. As long as he can accept the natural, negative consequences of his decisions more power to him. The vetting of current candidates is expected and appreciated. Face the facts without whining - please.

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    I have to say this, Brent Barton is an embarrassment to run on behalf of democrats for HD-40. I mean, where do we start? His campaign is poorly run for one thing, or just really desperate right now. If I ran against a guy who didn't pay his taxes on time, I'd save that ammo for closer to the election than 40+ days out. Barton must be showing in the polls poorly right now to look this desperate to waste this ammo so early on.

    I also wouldn't have voted on HB 3508 if I were him, which did change the law on defining confinement terms for violent criminals if you look up the actual wording (link for ya: http://votesmart.org/bill/9834/26729/103201/implementing-measure-57#.UGCiAlGZZBk). So basically he can be called out for not being truthful about that vote. It also makes him look stupid to go on tv with the county sheriff and say you didn't do something like that, when you in fact did. He made it way to easy to be called out on for that - and Sheriff Roberts just had a scathing article about him being in cahoots with the county commissioners today in the Oregonian to have a shady deal with a traffic citation court.

    But as Barton wasted his best ammo so early, he's going to get slammed for carpet bagging into Oregon City because he's not from here. He's moved places before just to run for the legislature, and you're going to see this on television with an ad that shows "Brent Barton, personal injury attorney moves to your area just to run for your seat because he basically thinks you're idiots that will make him a shoe in so he can participate in his legislative hobbies."

    As a democrat it's kind of insulting that we don't have ANYONE to represent the Oregon City Gladstone area who's lived here for barely anytime running for OUR seat.

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      And I will be voting for his opponent to basically spite a bad candidate (Barton) that basically got forced down our throats because Dave Hunt or whoever told Brent Barton this was an easy place to get elected or that he'd be a 'shoe-in' here.

      The people in this area (HD 40 - Oregon City / Gladstone) care about the election more than Brent Barton gives us credit for.

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    All those taxes were paid Mr Calhoun. No one is disputing that fact. There are a lot of assumptions made in this article and the comments. My favorite claim by Mr Barton is that our family has a $1.6 million apartment complex. This is news to us, and if you find it, we'd love to reap the benefits. This is a partisan website, and naturally you'd expect things to be overlooked.

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    The Oregonian PolitiFacts take on this matter - Mostly False:


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