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Watchdog Group Accuses Virginia Congressional Candidate of Evading D.C. Taxes

LuAnn Bennett
LuAnn Bennett / AP
• May 27, 2016 4:03 pm

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A conservative watchdog group filed a formal complaint Thursday against Virginia Democratic House candidate LuAnn Bennett, charging that the real estate agent evaded D.C. taxes over the past several years.

In a letter to the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue, the nonprofit Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust wrote that Bennett lived in her Washington condo long enough to be legally classified as a resident but avoided paying taxes.

Bennett has owned a $1.35 million condo at the D.C. Ritz-Carlton hotel less than a mile from her real estate company, Bennett Group, since February 2014. D.C. law requires anyone who has lived in the nation’s capital for at least 183 days to pay taxes in the District.

Bennett, who is mounting a congressional bid against Republican candidate Barbara Comstock, owns a 100-acre farm in Delaplane, Va. and in December began renting a home in McLean, Va.

She said in January during a campaign event that she has paid taxes in Virginia for 35 years, but FACT argued in its lawsuit that this could only be true if Bennett lived outside of D.C. for 183 days between 2014 and 2015.

The group noted that Bennett announced in a now deleted Facebook post that she moved to D.C. in April 2014. Citing a federal financial disclosure, the group also pointed out that she earned rental income on her farm in 2015, but not on her D.C. condo.

"This implicitly indicates that she lived in Washington, D.C. and used her home in Virginia as rental property or just a weekend residence," the letter said.

Bennett’s rural property is 52 miles from her real estate office in downtown Washington. Her penthouse condo meanwhile is 0.7 miles away. The NRCC noted that if she lived on the farm during the period she claimed she would have driven over 50 miles during rush hour traffic to get to and from work.

Facing criticism late last year, she told the Washington Post in December that she had moved from her Delaplane home to McLean while "occasionally" spending nights in her D.C. residence.

"LuAnn has been a resident of northern Virginia for 35 years," her campaign manager, Adam Zuckerman, said in a statement Thursday. "So that’s where she’s paid her taxes," he said. "The rental income from her farm is not from her house — it’s from an apartment over a barn. The group that’s making this allegation is associated with the Koch Brothers, and appears to have formed this year to wage professional smear campaigns, like Barbara Comstock ran against President Clinton as a party operative."

Bennett is competing against Comstock, a freshman congresswomen in Virginia’s suburban 10th district. Her ex-husband is former Rep. James Moran (D, Va.).

Published under: Congress, Taxes, Virginia