“It has always been clear that failed CEO Walt Havenstein was either ineligible to run for governor of New Hampshire or misled Maryland on his taxes. By pursuing his flailing campaign, Havenstein chose door number two. Now, Maryland taxpayers want their money back,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director Bryan Lesswing. “But instead of taking responsibility, Havenstein is already trying to blame others for his own poor decisions and actions. Though Havenstein will have to answer to Maryland taxpayers and authorities eventually, with this scandal New Hampshire voters now know for sure that he can't be trusted.”
WMUR: "Maryland says Havenstein owes state tax credits"
CONCORD, N.H. —Less than three weeks before the primary election, Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein is finding himself answering questions about tax issues in Maryland.
Havenstein will be billed for several years of back taxes after officials in Maryland said he accepted tax breaks he shouldn't have.
In 2007, Havenstein signed a pair of affidavits pledging that his primary residence at the time was in Maryland, and for four years, he received tax credits known as the homestead exemption.
But upon entering the race for governor, Havenstein asserted that he has always lived in New Hampshire, and the state Ballot Law Commission ruled in his favor.
Revenue officials in Maryland told News 9 that Havenstein shouldn't have accepted benefits in that state.
"It has been determined Mr. Havenstein accepted those benefits inappropriately, since his primary residence for at least three of those years was in New Hampshire, not Maryland," said Robert Young, director of the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation.
Maryland is now trying to collect nearly $9,000.
Former Republican Gov. John Sununu defended Havenstein, calling the Maryland tax bill a political stunt.
"This is just part of the Democrats' smear campaign because they are burdened by an incompetent that is making a tough political climate for them," Sununu said.
But Havenstein's Republican primary opponent, Andrew Hemingway, called the issue an anchor around the neck of all GOP candidates.
"This is just another in a long list of these types of events that Walt Havenstein has brought into the race," Hemingway said. "It's unfortunate because what it does is every time this happens, it takes away from the issues that are facing this state."
With Election Day fast approaching, analysts said this is a bad development for Havenstein at a bad time.
"This Republican primary is a dog fight," said James Pindell of WMUR Political Scoop. "And stories like this, which undermine Havenstein's argument from day one that he is the most electable candidate, only give Hemingway more momentum."
Havenstein's campaign released a statement saying that the candidate has received no explanation for the tax bill from Maryland.
"The fact that the county has provided information to news outlets that was withheld from the Havensteins should be deeply troubling to all taxpayers," a campaign spokesman said.