Ohio GOP Executive Director Matt Borges, who is in line to become state party chairman later this month, owes $493,624 in federal taxes and $98,397 in state taxes, according to public documents filed in Franklin County.
Borges said he is on a payment plan for some of the back taxes but is disputing the bulk of the liens.
“I’ve been working with counsel on this issue for years and I’m going to get it taken care of. Hopefully, it’s going to get resolved soon,” Borges said. “There is a large portion of that that I don’t owe.”
Borges said a 2007 federal tax lien for $354,262 and the $98,397 in state tax liens stem from the sale of his $575,000 home being improperly reported as income.
Borges is the front-runner for state party chairman after Gov. John Kasich and his allies last year led an ugly intra-party fight to oust Kevin DeWine from the chairmanship.
Going into the April 26 selection meeting with the Ohio GOP’s 66-member central committee, Borges has the backing of Kasich, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, Secretary of State Jon Husted, Treasurer Josh Mandel, Auditor Dave Yost and Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said, “We’re aware of it and understand that he disputes the accuracy of it. It’s in the process of being resolved and we don’t think it’s an issue.”
Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Jerid Kurtz declined to comment.
Borges is facing a challenge from tea party activist Tom Zawistowski, who declined to comment on Borges’ tax bill.
“I’m not running against Matt Borges, even though he is the other candidate. I’m running because I believe I can help the Republican Party,” he said.
A conservative faction of the Ohio Republican Party in March issued an open letter to the party, airing their grievances over Portman’s support of gay marriage, Kasich’s plan to expand Medicaid and the anticipated selection of Borges as state party chairman.
Borges, a Rhode Island native who came to Columbus in 1990 for college, has worked on local, state and national Republican campaigns since 1992, and served as chief of staff for former Ohio state treasurer Joe Deters. But in 2004 Borges pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor ethics violation for giving preferential treatment to brokers who contributed to Deters’ campaign. The conviction has since been expunged from his record.
More recently, Borges served as campaign manager for Yost and director of Kasich’s inaugural committee in 2010 and was hired as state party director in May 2011.
Borges’ tax troubles began in 1999, according to public records. He racked up $13,049 in federal liens for the 1999 and 2004 tax years and $19,767 lien for the 2001 tax year. But records show he paid those off in 2004 and 2009.
“I’ve taken care of those and I continue to pay the taxes that I owe,” Borges said.
Former state lawmaker Seth Morgan, a Huber Heights Republican, said the tax bills continue to raise questions about Borges.
“That’s not the type of resume you want walking into being the chief spokesperson for the Republican Party in the most important state of the union,” Morgan said.
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