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Carnahan gets a new foal; Blunt ponies up more property taxes

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 28, 2009 - Missouri's two announced candidates for the U.S. Senate in 2010 -- Rep. Roy Blunt and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan -- each had some money-related news Thursday afternoon.

Carnahan, a Democrat, announced that the family farm in Rolla, Mo., has a newborn -- a female foal. Carnahan's campaign is now circulating a photo of the candidate with the new arrival, in an electronic request for "suggestions for names for the baby horse."

The filly, adds Carnahan, is "already showing an independent streak."

There's also a subtle hint for campaign cash, with Carnahan noting her campaign's "early strength." (The name suggestions are to be logged on her campaign Web site.) 

Meanwhile, the news for Blunt wasn't so welcome. Washington's Roll Call publication disclosed Thursday afternoon that local tax authorities will assess Blunt and his wife "$5,600 in back property taxes for their Georgetown home, following a nearly two-month review of the property’s tax status."

Late Thursday, Blunt's campaign said the amount of back taxes levied was actually $6,820.33.  A spokesman added, "The D.C. government has admitted this was their error which is why the Blunts were not charged any penalties or fees..."

At issue was the couple's benefit from the "homestead tax deduction" given for full-time city residents, which amounted last year to a tax break of roughly $575 on their $1.6 million home.

The Blunts acknowledge that they shouldn't have obtained the break, since they claim Missouri as their primary residence. But the Blunts blame D.C. city officials for failing to comply with a 2004 written request from Abigail Blunt, the home's initial owner, that no homestead exemption be given. The couple says they were unaware that the tax break had continued until April, when the news broke. A D.C. councilman has backed up the Blunts' account, and the couple has released a copy of the 2004 no-exemption letter.

Their spokesman added, "The Blunts pay approximately $12,000 a year in property taxes and their taxes have gone up every year.  While this mistake is clearly the fault of the D.C. government, they are happy to pay it and are pleased the issue is resolved."

As the Beacon has pointed out earlier, other Missouri politicians have encountered a similar problem with the D.C. tax exemption -- including Robin Carnahan's mother, former U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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