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Drake's shot at Nye's taxes fires blank

In the minutes before Monday's 2nd District debate began, Virginia Beach Commissioner of the Revenue Phil Kellam stood in the foyer of the Trilogy Bistro in Norfolk, deep in the throes of a telephone call.

A Democratic predecessor in the doorway was probably not the omen Glenn Nye was hoping for as he prepared to do verbal battle with the Republican incumbent, U.S. Rep. Thelma Drake. The debate, before a bustling crowd at a gathering of the Virginia Club, began no better.

Drake used her five-minute opening statement to read a press release attacking Nye for owning half a house in Washington, a blistering skein of geographic innuendo that had the challenger on his heels at the get-go.

It is a testament to how fundamentally empty Drake's charges were - and how appropriately dismissive Nye was in responding to them - that by the end of the debate, folks seemed mostly disoriented by the tone of the exchange that had interrupted dessert.

The attack was beneath Drake's station as a congresswoman and an unwelcome diversion from months of mostly civil dialogue. Here's the crux of it: Nye gamed Washington, D.C.'s property tax system - for a discount - by claiming as his primary residence a place that isn't.

Here's the problem with that charge: Nye owns the house with his brother, who has lived there except while the State Department employed him in Iraq to work on reconstruction and job creation. Nye himself was also in Baghdad - creating a jobs program for Iraqis - during the period that Drake's campaign argues he was cheating the D.C. government.

In other words, Drake is criticizing the Nye brothers for claiming as a primary residence the house they left behind while serving their country in a war zone. What the Nyes did will sound very familiar to the heavily military voters of the 2nd District.

Service members forced to change duty stations make similar arrangements as a matter of course. Florida, for example, doesn't have enough houses for all the soldiers and sailors who claim residency there to avoid paying state income taxes.

(For the record, and because Drake's operatives are shopping this story as well, Glenn Nye said he has paid income taxes in Virginia except in 2006, when he was living in that D.C. house.)

The goal of Drake's distracting attacks on Nye, a native of the area and a graduate of Norfolk Academy, was to make him seem like an outsider. He's no more an outsider here than any other native who has gone off to serve his country for a few years.

The fact that Drake would apparently prefer to play gotcha politics on a public servant than discuss the issues doesn't say much for her confidence in defending her record.

Posted to: Editorials Opinion

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In the Bag

Like the NYTs the Pilot is in the bag for the Democrats.

Drake has absoliutely no desire to defend her record

If Thelma attempts to defend her record, she better be wearing some waders, because it's going to get awfully deep. Thelma claims to support veterans but winds up initially voting against veterans' expanded educational benefits "because she knew Bush was going to veto the legislation." Yeah, right. She states she's for alternatives to dependence on foreign oil, but votes against continuing tax incentives for these initiatives. She cares less about SCHIP, credit card protections, and anything else that does not fit her party's ethos.

Thelma Drake will not defend her record because she has no record to defend. Once again; if it's not broken, don't fix it. Now considering Drake; if it's not working, then it's broken. And she's part of the problem. The only constituency Drake continually represents is herself. It is way past time for her to depart Washington.

drake's campaign is typical

What we are seeing is the norm for Republican candidates and how they run their campaign. Drake cannot tell us anything positive she will do to represent us, so she will throw daggers at the opponent. It doesn't matter to her if it's a lie or not. She has been trained by George Bush, Dick Cheney and the most evil of all Karl Rove. We cannot expect any better out of Drake, she just doesn't have it in her. It's sad when people don't see her for what she really is.

gotcha?

Are you saying that tax returns are irrelevant? Funny, they haven't been irrelevant in other elections.

Nye missed an opportunity to use this to his advantage. If he had acknowledged the possibility that he made a tax mistake (many of us do), hired an accountant to check it out, then made it right if he was wrong (or rubbed her nose in it if he was right). He could have set Thelma back on her heels. Instead he's on the defensive.

I don't buy this whole patriotism argument that's being thrown around - it's irrelevant. Regardless of his job or position, he's either in compliance or not. His patriotism (which is NOT in question) isn't justification for violations of tax law, accidental or not.

Still no answer

"isn't justification for violations of tax law"

Even the paper has not answered the question. Is it illegal in the District of Columbia to rent out the house while away on this type of duty? The brother is able to claim this deduction if it is his primary residence. is it illegal to rent it while away?

why don't you

try contacting elected officials or the appropiate department in D.C. and asking them instead of waiting for someone else to give you the info. Drake doesn't know anymore about what she's talking about than some on here.

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