The Blog

Goolsbee's Mysterious Tweet About the Koch Brothers' Taxes

Why did a former White House official delete a statement about Koch Industries taxes?

2:40 PM, May 29, 2013 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

If true, that's an embarrassing explanation of Goolsbee's 2010 remarks. The article Goolsbee cited as the basis for his false* claim that Charles and David Koch don't pay federal corporate income taxes was a 2003 St. Petersburg Times report that a different Koch brother did not pay corporate taxes to the state of Florida. Imagine if a senior Bush administration official made a false claim about George Soros's taxes during an election because he read an old article written about some guy named Jimmy Soros.

Sometime since Slate reporter Dave Weigel quoted the Goolsbee tweet on Friday, Goolsbee deleted it. Why? Did Goolsbee delete it simply because it was embarrassing? Or was it not true?

Koch Industries lawyer Mark Holden says the explanation is implausible. "It is hard for me to believe what Mr. Goolsbee is saying now on Twitter, after not raising it 3 years ago when this came up, and he and the White House stated his comments about Koch not paying taxes and how it structured itself for tax purposes were based on Forbes article, our website, and PERAB testimony," Holden wrote in an email to THE WEEKLY STANDARD. "As you recall, when we challenged those assertions the White House said Goolsbee was 'mistaken' and 'we (White House and Goolsbee) won’t' say this again.  Now after the TIGTA investigation is closed, he offers yet another reason – a 2003 newspaper article that doesn’t deal with Koch Industries or federal tax issues.  Very hard to believe this and makes me wonder what he really relied upon and what is in the TIGTA report."

On Tuesday, I asked Goolsbee why he is now citing the St. Petersburg Times article when the White House pointed to different sources in 2010. He didn't reply. Nor did Goolsbee respond when asked if he met with IRS officials at the White House. 

As the saying goes, never assume malice when stupidity will suffice. But in light of the recent IRS scandals--involving not just the targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny but also the sharing of confidential tax information--the administration doesn't exactly deserve the benefit of the doubt. Without the inspector general's report, we can't know for sure if the Obama administration was merely guilty of stupidity and demagoguery regarding the Koch brothers--or something worse.

*Both Koch Industries and the White House now agree the claim that Koch Industries doesn't pay corporate income taxes is false, but we don't know the claim is false without seeing Koch Industries' tax returns.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 20 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers