Thursday, August 14, 2003

Arianna Huffington, the ex-conservative commentator/political spouse who morphed into a liberal, “progressivist” harpie after her bitter divorce, released her tax returns today as she embarks on her California gubernatorial campaign. Huffington’s message on the stump is the same one she’s been touting in her latest book, “Pigs at the Trough”: corporate crooks are exploiting tax loopholes at the expense of tax-paying, working families. In a classic turnabout, according to her tax returns, Ms. Huffington hasn’t paid any federal taxes in the past two years, and has paid only a pittance in state taxes, thanks to losses incurred by her publishing company.

The LA Times is painting this story as a classic case of tax dodge hypocrisy, but I’m thinking this angle is a stretch. What she’s done with her publishing company is perfectly ethical and legal. The real story of her tax returns isn’t what little she’s paid in taxes, but what little she knows about running a successful commercial enterprise. Racking up over $2.67 million in losses over the past several years, Huffington clearly needs a refresher in Business 101.

The returns also conjure up an interesting question. If she’s accumulated so much in losses, how is she able to maintain a large Brentwood home and a lifestyle that is not exactly typical of the average “working families” she claims to champion? According to the article, Huffington receives substantial child support payments from her ex-husband, all of which is tax-free. She claims that none of the money is being funneled to her company, but it’s clear she's lying. A company doesn’t go millions in the red and avoid bankruptcy without a source of external financing.

How would Arianna tackle California's rampaging deficits as Governor? So far, she hasn’t said much. “I'm a working woman,” Huffington has said in response to the LA Times’ questions, claiming that her business world dabbling would serve her well in Sacramento (maybe that statement would have more clout if she wasn’t being pampered by a steady stream of cash from the ex). For all we know, her solution might be to have her husband cover the gap with a gigantic court ordered alimony payment. If I were Michael Huffington, I’d immediately move all of my assets offshore and flee for parts unknown.

A curious footnote to the Times article caught my attention, as well. Among Huffington’s charitable donations are several contributions to the “Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness”, headed by a John-Roger. (The hyphen is his addition, not mine. I’m assuming this is a first name, though I'm not entirely sure.) According to Mr. John-Roger, his pseudo-religion espouses “Soul Transcendence, which is becoming aware of yourself as a Soul and as one with God, not as a theory but as a living reality." Huffington has apparently taken this spiritual gibberish to heart, as she is becoming aware of herself as the Governor.

Will Californians make this spoiled, lying, incompetent crackpot’s theory a living reality? I doubt it, though I’m sure this campaign will certainly help her market her upcoming book. Hopefully, Ms. Huffington will be able to turn a profit with this one. Then she can pay some taxes for once, and stand proudly amongst her “average working class” minions.


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