Senate Republican hopeful Richard Mourdock is demanding his Indiana rival removes vicious attack ads that claim he took illegal tax breaks.
The ads from a super PAC backing six-term veteran Sen. Dick Lugar allege that Mourdock took the break for three years in a row, even after repeated warnings, The Indy Channel reports. The 30-second TV spots started airing on Tuesday.
But Mourdock, the Hoosier State treasurer, insists that he did not apply for the deduction and he corrected the error as soon as he discovered it.
"It is ironic that Lugar, who hasn't owned a home in Indiana since 1977, wants to discuss personal property issues," Mourdock's campaign spokesman Christopher Conner told CNN.
The battle between the two men in one of the closest watched races of the primary season, is getting more vicious by the day.
The ad — which uses the tagline, "Richard Mourdock, the more you know him, the less you trust him" — concentrates on a property that Mourdock bought in Marion County. As a second home it was not eligible for the rebate. But Mourdock says the county auditor carried the rebate over from the previous owner.
"I reported it to them," said Mourdock. "They noted in their files that it was not the taxpayer's mistake. It was their mistake. When I brought it to their attention, they told me I didn't owe any back taxes."
But he said he was unhappy with that answer and said he wanted to pay back the money. The county then asked for two years' back taxes but Mourdock insisted on paying the full three years from 2008 to 2010, a total of $1,500.
However, the Lugar team suggests that he only attempted to pay back the money once he had decided to run for office.
"Voters have the right to question if the state treasurer didn't care, was incompetent, or a tax cheat," Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said.
The race for the nomination, which will be decided in a May 8 primary, is neck and neck. A Howey/DePauw poll taken in early April put Lugar up by seven percentage points, but Mourdock's campaign says an internal poll taken this week gives the challenger a one-point advantage.
The winner will take on Democrat Joe Donnelly in the November election.
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