If I’d closed my eyes, I might have confused John Hickenlooper with an IRS-baiting tax protester who had somehow slipped into a Denver Post editorial board meeting this week.
“The IRS — call it clever, call it however you like. A lot of people hate our government because of these tactics,” Hickenlooper declared. “They made a calculation of how much can we ask for so that the legal costs of battling it would be roughly equal to what they’re fighting over.
“The minimum cost to go to tax court is $60,000. What a coincidence! This is $52,000 [the amount the IRS demanded Hickenlooper pay for allegedly overvaluing conservation easements on land he owns in Park County]. Do you think that’s just an accidental coincidence? . . . Sure, probably just an accident.”
And when the mayor wasn’t directing sarcasm at the IRS, he was by turns bracing (“Why are we having this discussion?”) or indignant (“This is the most straightforward real estate deal I think I’ve ever been involved in”), or disdainful of news coverage (“We have been schooled so thoroughly by our friends in the media”). [emphasis added]
The Post has more details on the mayor’s conservation easements and his settlement with the IRS. According to Denver’s KMGH Channel 7, Hickenlooper was able to write off $1.1 million using the easements.
Face the State was first to report on the potential controversy back in early August, but repeated attempts to secure necessary documentation were rebuffed by Hickenlooper’s staff, and a reporter for FTS was forcibly removed from Hickenlooper’s campaign office while asking for access. The efforts by FTS undoubtedly forced the issue and shed light on its importance for Hickenlooper as both Denver’s Mayor and a gubernatorial candidate.