Ankerberg should withdraw from Senate race

It’s not about his temperament anymore.

A U.S. Tax Court judge has ruled that Curt Ankerberg, a Medford certified public accountant making his 10th try for elected office in the Republican primary for state Senate District 3, filed fraudulent income tax returns three years in a row. In doing so, the court found, Ankerberg failed to report $111,366 in income while improperly claiming $67,000 in deductions.

The court has yet to determine what punishment Ankerberg will face; the IRS is seeking more than $36,700 in penalties.

We never have endorsed Ankerberg for any office he has sought, primarily because his nasty, confrontational approach makes him unsuited to serving on public bodies where officials must get along with others.

These latest revelations, however, indicate Ankerberg is not just unpleasant to deal with.

Ankerberg asserts that medical problems — specifically, near blindness and water on the brain — that made him “incapable of maintaining daily, accurate records” were to blame for his inaccurate tax returns.

The casual observer might be sympathetic to that excuse, but the judge did not buy it — and her reasoning raises a concern far more serious than fraudulent personal tax returns.

Senior Judge Mary Ann Cohen noted Ankerberg not only continued to drive his car when he was allegedly going blind, he prepared more than 180 tax returns for paying clients over the three years in question. If Ankerberg really were too disabled to prepare his own tax returns accurately, he was in no condition to do anyone else’s taxes, either. His clients should hope their returns from those years don’t get audited.

In Ankerberg’s many campaigns for elected office, he consistently has touted his financial expertise as a reason for voters to support him. If this is an example of his fiscal prowess, voters should reject him.

The proceedings against Ankerberg are civil, not criminal, and he still has the option of appealing the tax court’s ruling, although he told the Mail Tribune he does not plan to do so.

Ankerberg can continue his campaign if he chooses, but he should have the decency to withdraw from the race, because the Tax Court’s findings demonstrate he does not belong in a position of public trust.

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