Todd Stroger talks taxes

May 14, 2009 (CHICAGO) Stroger owes more than $11,000.

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger says he has some of the same tax troubles as millions of other Americans who cannot all at once - paying the money they owe to the Internal Revenue Service.

Stroger called it a personal financial issue that has nothing to do with his administration of county government.

"It's got nothing to do with the government. The government is running at a great rate," said Stroger.

Stroger says the tax lien on his South Side house is there to secure the nearly $12,000 debt he and his wife owe the government from tax year 2007 hen their joint income was just over $225,000. He says he's been legal and upfront with the IRS throughout the process.

"My intention always is to pay my taxes. I file on time every year and pay my taxes every year. That's what I expected to do as a citizen," said Stroger.

One of the president's aides said the Sun-Times knew about the lien in March but did not report the story until Wednesday. Stroger explained the timing on his long running dispute over coverage of his government by the paper's reporters and editorial writers.

"Yellow journalism is the order of the day for the Sun-Times. This is nothing new. They've been trying to drag me through the mud for a long time," said Stroger.

It's been a bad news month for Stroger on most of the media. A scandal involving an ex-felon busboy he hired who was arrested again and bailed out by the president's cousin who was fired from her job as the county's chief financial officer.

Then, without notice, four of his longtime allies on the county board flipped and voted to repeal the one cent increase in the sales tax they once supported. The president vetoed the action on Monday. Then two days later the tax lien story broke.

Stroger told ABC7 he's aware that powerful forces in the Democratic party are trying to stop him from running for re-election.

"That's exactly what's going on. They decided way early that they didn't want me to be the president, and they would pull out anything they could to stop me," said Stroger.

Stroger began rehabbing any damage caused by the tax story with an interview on black community based media, a cable television program and WVON radio.

And finally, Stroger had a message for those he says are out to get him: he will run for re-election despite any alleged attempt to stop him.

"They're not going to chase me out of the fight, no, I'm running. As I told you, our government is in great shape," said Stroger.

The county board is set to next week on whether to override the president's veto of the sales tax repeal. Stroger said again on Thursday the tax revenue is needed to fund health care for the poor. He needs four of the 17 votes to sustain his veto.

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