It's worth taking a look at the chronology of this whole matter, including the actions of the DC tax office and the changing stories from the Daschle campaign. First, note how the story began:
Talon News has been pursuing this investigation since July 2003 when a search of property tax records revealed the tax credit being claimed by Daschle. At the time, Tony Bullock, a spokesman for Mayor Anthony Williams told Talon News that it was Linda Daschle who qualified for the tax exemption because she paid income taxes in the city. Daschle campaign manager, Steve Hildebrand, repeated Bullock's assertions in statements to "Roll Call."
In a letter to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader on September 1, 2003, Hildebrand repeated the claim that Linda Daschle qualified for the tax break. But the document recently obtained by Talon News showed that it was Tom Daschle who applied for the homestead exemption.
Hildebrand recently told the "Rapid City (SD) Journal" that Daschle's tax break is legitimate because "it is the house that qualifies for the tax break rather than any person."
The only problem is that it was Tom Daschle who signed the tax exemption form swearing his "principal place of residence" was in DC. So why did the Daschle people start saying "it was Linda!" who signed the forms during the late summer of 2003? What happened between April 2003, when Tom Daschle signed the forms, and late summer, when the Daschle campaign said it was Linda's doing? Note this from the Argus Leader story this morning:
The Roll Call article in question quotes a Daschle campaign staff member saying Linda Daschle's status made the couple eligible for the tax break but does not say she signed the application.
Additionally, the Daschle campaign supplied records Wednesday, dated Aug. 14, 2003, showing that a box indicating "principal place of residence" was checked "yes," but it was part of an updated application signed by Linda Daschle, not the senator.
Ah, I see, the application was "updated"! So when Talon News and Roll Call started poking around, the Daschle campaign went into crisis management mode, started saying that Linda "qualified" for the tax exemption, had the DC Mayor's office cover for them, and then quickly had her execute new documents. They never actually admitted, however, that Daschle had been the one to originally sign the form. But when Talon News sent in a Freedom of Information Act request, the DC tax office sent out the original tax exemption form signed by Tom Daschle (but they didn't send out the new Linda forms). They also started changing around his tax status on their website and having decisions reversed by lawyers and generally stonewalling the press. It seems to me that a big part of the story is what is happening/happened in the DC tax office.
A couple more things. First, thank the liberals of the 60s and 70s for rightly passing the FOIA, so the public has some sense of what's going on here. Second, where does this leave poor Linda? She's now signed a form saying DC is here "principal place of residence (domicile)" and the Daschle campaign said this morning that she's registered to vote in Aberdeen even though she's never lived there (she's from Oklahoma/Kansas).