Just days before the election, the Wake County Republican Party attacked John Burns, a Democratic candidate for the county board of commissioners, on Saturday for his track record of not paying his car taxes on time and for a series of traffic tickets that include a charge of driving while license revoked.
In a press release, Wake County Republican Party Chairwoman Donna Williams points to records showing that Burns has been late paying his car taxes 22 of 23 times since 2001 and received 10 traffic tickets between 2006 and 2010 – mainly for having an expired registration. Williams says it shows Burns’ “disturbing refusal to act responsibly.”
But Burns says the traffic tickets, including the driving while license revoked, were dismissed. Records also show that at least one Republican running for the Wake County Board of Commissioners also has a history of not paying his car taxes on time.
Burns is running against Republican Commissioner Paul Coble in one of four commission contests on Tuesday’s ballot. The stakes are high as a loss by any of the four Republican commissioners would flip the board to a Democratic majority.
Campaign attacks have ratcheted up in the past week. Using material posted by Lady Liberty 1885, a conservative blogger, the GOP pointed Saturday to Burns’ history of paying car taxes after the date when interest accumulates on the bill, including being 405 days late on a 2011 car bill.
"Frankly, I am astonished at Mr. Burns record,” Williams said in the press release. “Everyone makes a mistake now and then, but Mr. Burns has a pattern of irresponsibility that is shocking and surely calls his judgment into question. How can you ask voters to give you control of Wake County's $1Billion+ budget when you can't do something as simple as pay your taxes and renew your registration?”
Williams charged that Burns “doesn't believe the rules that we all live under apply to him.”
“I've been late getting my car registered, but I've paid every penny I owe, and these charges have all been dismissed,” Burns responded in a statement Saturday. “This is another last minute desperate attack to talk about anything other than my opponent's failed record on the county commission, including raising his own pay nearly five times than what he raised teacher pay.”
County tax records show that Phil Matthews, the Republican chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, has been late paying taxes on his various vehicles 25 times since 2003. Like Burns, Matthews eventually paid his car tax bill but some payments were made months after the delinquent date, such as when he was 10 months late paying a 2007 bill.
Matthews is running against Democrat Matt Calabria.