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Lugar, Mourdock campaigns clash over unpaid property taxes

The campaign for Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., called Tuesday for its Republican primary election opponent to pay taxes, interest and penalties owed on a Marion County property.

The campaign for Richard Mourdock said he intends to make good on the taxes when he is billed Nov. 10.

Indiana media reported in June that Mourdock, the second-term state treasurer, had received homestead tax exemptions for houses he owns in Evansville and Indianapolis. Homeowners are allowed an exemption for one house under Indiana tax law.

“Mr. Mourdock has claimed that he didn’t know that he was getting a homestead exemption on his Indianapolis home. But sadly, that excuse is just not believable,” David Willkie, political director for Lugar’s campaign, said in a statement.

Willkie said Mourdock had to have known about the exemption because Mourdock had also sought reassessment of his Indianapolis property value.

“Anyone who had examined their property tax bill closely enough to file for a reassessment must have known that they were receiving a homestead exemption,” Willkie said.

Willkie said Marion County issued a new tax bill to Mourdock on Oct. 13.

Christopher Conner, spokesman of Mourdock’s campaign, disputed Willkie’s version of the events.

“The Marion County Auditor has already taken responsibility in writing for the error which resulted in a homestead deduction from a prior owner being applied by mistake to Richard’s condominium in Indianapolis,” Conner said in an email. “Richard offered to repay any taxes owed after this error was fixed by the Auditor. The Auditor’s office was unable to calculate the amount owed and instead stated that they would bill the additional amount on the November 10th tax statements. Richard will pay this bill in full as he has all other tax bills he has received. At no time did Richard apply for a homestead exemption on this property.”

Willkie pointed out that Mourdock lent his campaign $100,000 in the third quarter. Lugar’s supporters “believe that Richard Mourdock should have paid his back property tax bill before funding his personal political campaign,” Willkie said.

Conner said the Lugar campaign was trying “to distract attention from the fact that the Senator was recently forced to resign from the board of a left-wing think tank associated with the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protesters.”

Lugar quit the advisory board for the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network on Thursday after Mourdock’s campaign called attention to the board’s many Democrats, including three who were high-ranking officials in Bill Clinton’s White House.