An anniversary is a day that commemorates or celebrates a past event. Most people associate the word with something positive or as a way to remember and “never forget.”
There are some anniversaries people prefer to … just forget.
Nov. 14 marks the decennial of the first rigged tax sale held by a former Madison County treasurer. Ten years after the convicted tax collector held auctions that lined his campaign chest and took from “down and out” taxpayers, there are some officials who still don’t believe the county is responsible.
Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The British prime minister also remarked: “when the situation was manageable it was neglected.”
Was the county’s situation manageable a decade ago? You bet! Officials knew about the “pay to play” scheme and did nothing to stop it.
It wasn’t a secret — county treasurers across the state knew.
Why did county officials deny or act as though nothing took place until the treasurer and three tax buyers confessed to rigging the tax sales (2005 to 2008)?
There were lots of reasons. The bottom line is they protected the Democrat political machine.
Instead of putting an end to the unethical and illegal behavior — thousands of taxpayers paid dramatically increased penalty interest rates and in some cases lost their homes when they couldn’t afford to pay — they protected political contributions.
When the treasurer retired in 2009, county officials lavished him with praise. When the newly appointed treasurer took over there were some changes made, but it didn’t prevent him from accepting $20,000 in campaign donations from the same tax buyers.
Let’s face it, the delinquent taxpayers were wronged. Other elected officials knew about it, but failed at their responsibility to protect the public from criminal activity.
The victims are still awaiting restitution.