published Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Georgia candidate Ales Campbell can't hold office unless taxes are paid

You're not eligible to hold office in Georgia if you owe local, state or federal back taxes.

That provision in the state constitution is causing headaches for Ales Campbell, who's running a write-in campaign against incumbent Walker County Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell.

Campbell and husband Kenneth C. Campbell at one time had state and federal tax liens against their Shinbone Valley Road home for almost $40,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties.

The lien for $28,435 in unpaid federal taxes being was released in February of this year, according to records on file at the Walker County Courthouse. But there's no record at the courthouse of the lien being removed for the $10,849 that the Campbells owed to the state.

"This is a serious matter," Walker County Election Superintendent Barbara Berry said Tuesday. "According to the constitution, it states that unless she's on a payment program or unless the taxes are paid in full, she can't [hold office]."

Berry said the county elections board will meet at 8:30 a.m. Friday in the courthouse to discuss the situation and may seek advice from the Attorney General of Georgia or from the State Election Board.

Ales Campbell said Tuesday afternoon she would travel to Rome, Ga., today to get a copy of the release of the state tax lien from the regional office of the Georgia Department of Revenue.

"I am bringing all that paperwork with me to the elections board meeting Friday morning," Campbell said.

She also said she has a copy of the payment that the Campbells sent to pay the state taxes.

Georgia Department of Revenue spokesman Jud Seymour couldn't confirm Tuesday whether the Campbells had paid what they owe.

"I can't disclose taxpayer information," he said. "It goes public at the county level. It doesn't become public with us."

Berry last week contacted County Attorney Don Oliver for his opinion on the matter. After doing some research and providing Berry with information, Oliver announced Tuesday morning that he was going to recuse himself from investigating the matter.

"I am just making it clear that I'm stepping out because it has become politically charged," said Oliver, who supports Heiskell's re-election.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township┬╣s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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