Tax Debtor Can’t Run for Office, Opponent Says

HILLSBORO, Mo. (CN) — A Democratic candidate for the Missouri State House sued his Republican opponent, claiming he’s not qualified to run due to delinquent taxes.
     Robert Butler sued Robert Vescovo on Friday in Jefferson County Court.
     Butler is challenging Vescovo, the Republican incumbent, for the 122th District seat in Jefferson County, immediately south of St. Louis County.
     Vescovo previously ran Vesco Courier, Vesco Logistics and www.18graphics.com and now manages Hypercalm Investments. The Vesco companies and 18graphics have been administratively dissolved.
     Butler says there are tax liens against the Vesco companies and that 18graphics and Hypercalm are also delinquent on taxes.
     According to the lawsuit, the lien against Vesco Logistics is $1,107.80 and the lien against Vesco Courier is $1,813.70.
     Vescovo told Courthouse News in an email that he was out of town and hadn’t seen the lawsuit, but called it “nothing more than a frivolous, politically motivated case. I am confident it will be swiftly resolved.”
     Butler’s attorney Matthew Vianello, Jacobson Press & Fields in Clayton, said in an interview that the law in question does not differentiate between personal and business taxes, and that as manager of the businesses, Vescovo is responsible for paying their taxes.
     “However, there’s a mechanism that allows the candidate to pay the taxes within 30 days,” Vianello said. “At the base of this is whether there is a tax issue.”
     Vianello said his client did not have standing to challenge Vescovo’s qualification until after the primary this month.
     Under Missouri law, only a candidate’s direct opponent has standing to legally challenge qualification. So Butler had to wait until after the primary, when both candidates were the representatives of their parties to issue the challenge.
     “The election challenges are odd in one major respect, in that the opposing candidate is the only one who has standing to challenge the other candidate,” Vianello said. “So there’s some importance in a candidate challenging the qualifications of his opponent, because nobody else can.”

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