Kelsch’s husband: Tax lien his faultBISMARCK (AP) — The husband of Mandan state Rep. RaeAnn Kelsch said he should be blamed for a $304,000 state income tax lien against the couple, and that he hoped she disregards a Tea Party appeal that she not seek re-election.
By: Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK (AP) — The husband of Mandan state Rep. RaeAnn Kelsch said he should be blamed for a $304,000 state income tax lien against the couple, and that he hoped she disregards a Tea Party appeal that she not seek re-election.
“I don’t want her not to run because of my failures,” Thomas D. Kelsch said in an email to The Associated Press. “RaeAnn is not to blame for our tax problem.”
Thomas Kelsch, who is a Mandan attorney and legislative lobbyist, said he lied for years to his wife about their income tax problems, saying they had been paid when they had not.
He made sure she did not see mailed notices from the Internal Revenue Service and the state Tax Department, and told her she did not have to physically sign the couple’s tax returns, he said in his email.
Thomas Kelsch said he was suffering from depression during the period, a condition for which he said he is now being treated.
“In my distorted thinking, I even thought I was protecting RaeAnn by hiding (the tax problems) from her,” Kelsch said. “I found I couldn’t admit my mistakes and failure to anyone, or to ask anyone for help.”
Kelsch’s email was in response to an Associated Press request for comment from RaeAnn Kelsch about a statement from the North Dakota Tea Party Caucus, a statewide organization, that asked the Republican incumbent not to run for re-election.
“For years we have seen elected officials put selfish reasons ahead of leadership and virtue. Those days should be no longer,” Leon Francis, the caucus’s president, said in the statement. “North Dakota Republican leadership’s silence on this matter speaks volumes about their willingness to accept the status quo, as long as elections are won.”
RaeAnn Kelsch was first elected to the House in 1990. She is chairwoman of the House Education Committee.
She has declined to comment about earlier demands that she resign or step down as the House Education chairwoman. She did not respond Saturday to telephone, email and text messages asking for comment about the Tea Party statement.
Kelsch and her district’s other two Mandan Republican incumbents, Rep. Todd Porter and Sen. Dwight Cook, have declared they are running for re-election. The district’s GOP activists will endorse their candidate slate March 21.
Thomas Kelsch said in his email the state income tax lien has been satisfied. The Tax Department lien had listed $303,816 in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties dating back to 2004.
Kelsch’s statement could not be independently confirmed on Saturday. Cory Fong, the state tax commissioner, said confidentiality laws forbade him from commenting about the Kelsches’ tax status.
RaeAnn Kelsch herself disclosed the lien’s existence during a news conference at the state GOP headquarters in Bismarck on Jan. 19. She was flanked by family members, but her husband did not attend.
In a statement, she said her husband had been the family tax manager, and that he could not “bring himself to tell me the true state of our affairs.”
Thomas Kelsch said in his email that he was in a Bismarck psychiatric ward at the time of the news conference. He said his wife read him the prepared statement she planned to deliver, and that he had approved of it.
“The failure in timely filing and paying our income taxes is all on my shoulders,” he wrote. “It was not RaeAnn’s fault, and she should not be bearing the brunt of public criticism.”