Let’s get something straight right off the bat. The current controversy surrounding State Representative Linda Harper Brown has nothing to do with cars and nothing to do with her record on transportation. Nothing.
In my best Sesame Street impersonation, this controversy is brought to you by the number 19, the number 2008 and the word re-election.
Oh, and don’t forget the number ten million, which I will come back to later. But back to Burt & Ernie, Oscar the Grouch and Mr. Hooper.
The number 19 is the number of votes Harper Brown won reelection by in 2008. There. That sentence pretty much puts the whole controversy into perspective. All three of our Sesame Street numbers and words in one nice, easy-to-remember sentence. You won’t hear such a simple statement in the pages of the Dallas Morning News, the Ft Worth Star-Telegram or the Austin American Statesman. They’re talking about Rep. Harper Brown as if she has committed some great felony.
Now, to dispel why the Representative and her husband have not done anything wrong–at least not that has been reported yet–a little accounting lesson for all.
Service providers are permitted to exchange their services in lieu of payment. Heck, even products can be exchanged on a value-for-value basis. For example, a plumber and a landscaper can exchange services in lieu of cash payment. The landscaper provides lawn care service for the plumber and the plumber does some work on the landscaper’s rental property, for example.
Or a CPA can provide tax and accounting services for, say, an automobile leasing company. CPA takes care of the leasing company’s books and taxes and receives really swank automobiles in lieu of payment in cash. Happens all the time. In fact, I can’t help but think that there are thousands of service providers around the area who hear this and think, “Are you kidding? I do Mr. Brown’s yard/plumbing/dog grooming and he does my books for me–what’s the big deal?”
Then again, Linda Harper Brown doesn’t sit on the Texas House’s Select Committee on Landscaping, Plumbing and Doggie Grooming, does she?
Then again, it’s not like there are $10 MILLION being poured into Texas in 2010 in an effort to “Turn Texas Blue” by Democrats, just like the Democratic National Committee poured outside money into Colorado to turn that traditionally Republican Red State true blue, too. And that is what this is really all about.
I’m sorry to rain on the main stream media’s parade, but the gig’s up. This is a dead issue. Democrats are trying to tell us that Republicans are bad, bad, bad due to an exchange of services by an elected official’s spouse. You’re going to have to have more than that, guys. And I’ll even tell you what you’ll need to make this thing stick, just so you can all save face before anyone realizes that you’ve dropped the journalistic ball once again. Here’s what you look for.
Go get your national Democratic buddies, since they’re the ones funding all of this, to audit Harper Brown’s husband’s CPA business. Here’s what you are looking for. You want to show that he didn’t actually claim said exchange of services as revenues. An exchange of services is not the problem, guys. However, the Internal Revenue Service, under Federal tax laws, requires a service provider to claim exchange of services as revenues on their taxes.
A little MBA 101 for the uninformed: Revenues minus Expenses equals Profits. And Profits are taxed. If Harper Brown’s husband claimed this exchange of services as revenues, thus profit, thus was taxed on the exchange of services, then this is a dumb, dead, Democratic prank–not an issue at all.
If he did not, well, you’ve got yourself a story! But be careful, because if I go down the list of prominent Democrats I’ll betcha I can find a whole bunch of those with the same problem! Sure would be inconvenient to explain that one, huh?
Then again, Democrats are funneling big time bucks into Texas this year. That would help their cause.
Oh, and I didn’t even mention the fact that Harper Brown is one of the heroes of the Transportation Committee. She recently grilled TxDOT officials over the recent Grant Thornton audit of TxDOT’s management, culture and operations in a joint hearing of the Texas House and Senate. Unfortunately, most of the time the Conservative Republicans in the Legislature are not the friends of the People on transportation and TxDOT. They stick pretty closely with Governor Rick Perry. In fact, I actually count more Democrats as allies on transportation than Republicans.
So for Democrats to now seek to roast a Linda Harper Brown on transportation, asking for Texas House Speaker Joe Straus to remove her from the Transportation Committee, is the most comical aspect of this whole affair.
And you won’t hear the Dallas Morning News pointing out that fact. Call it another inconvenient truth.