A Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate who lectured billionaires on Monday to "pay your taxes" has a history of tax delinquency.
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the frontrunner in the Democratic Senate primary, failed to pay his property taxes or file tax returns while running for office in 2018—and defended himself at the time by claiming that "most people" don’t fully pay their taxes.
The City of Milwaukee cited Barnes for delinquent tax bills in 2019, and he owed $2,225 in property taxes on his condo, Milwaukee’s Fox-6 reported in 2019.
But Barnes seemed uncharacteristically concerned about tax punctuality when he took a swipe at the super-rich in a social media post on Monday.
"Dear Billionaires: Pay your taxes," Barnes wrote on Twitter.
Barnes’s history of delinquency could gain new scrutiny as taxes become an issue in the Wisconsin Senate race. Democrats have been running campaign ads against Republican senator Ron Johnson, accusing him of benefiting from a tax break provision he helped pass.
Barnes stormed away from a Fox-6 journalist in 2019 who asked about the unpaid tax bills, saying he didn’t want to discuss it because it was "Juneteenth" and the "check is in the mail."
"I don’t even know how that became a story," Barnes told the reporter. "Most people I know actually have a balance, and the check is in the mail."
"This is—this is Juneteenth," Barnes added before he fled the scene. "This is Juneteenth, and they want to talk about property taxes!"
Barnes also paid no state or federal income tax in 2018 and failed to file a tax return while running for lieutenant governor, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Barnes’s campaign said he was unemployed and earned below the filing requirement threshold. He claimed he used savings and family funds to purchase two condos that year, while also using the state’s Medicaid program.