Friday, April 13, 2007

Rudy's Convictions

A mass e-mail I just received from Mike DuHaime, the campaign manager of Rudy for President, contained the following sentence:

This recent news story highlights some of the many cases Rudy prosecuted as U.S. Attorney[,] including those against the mob, corruption and tax evasion.

I was initially tempted to think that since the article comes from the AP and not the campaign, I shouldn't assume that Rudy is proud of all the cases the article highlights. But DuHaime specifically mentions "tax evasion," by which he means a 1998 indictment Rudy brought against Leona Helmsley.

The husband of real-estate and hotel mogul Harry Helmsley, Leona was found guilty of deceiving the accounting firm that prepared both her corporate and personal tax returns. In short, she submitted false invoices that claimed as business expenses $4 million in renovations to her Connecticut mansion.

But even leaving aside the numerous red flags in the case, it's unclear to me why an economic conservative, running in large measure on an anti-tax platform, would trumpet this indictment as if he had gone after Tony Soprano.

If you break the law, you should be prosecuted. But prosecutors wield enormous discretion as to which cases they prosecute, and it's unfortunate that Rudy made his bones on Leona Helmsley's back.

Given that taxes are far too high and the tax code is far too complicated, I don't begrudge someone who tries to loophole herself more of her own money. Call her greedy, but it's my kind of greed.