Some stories are so rich with irony, they practically write themselves. Over the weekend, the Boulder Daily Camera reported that a Colorado attorney heading a federal lawsuit against our state’s constitutional tax protections is himself delinquent on federal taxes (H/T Complete Colorado):
The federal government has issued a tax lien on the Boulder home of attorney Herb Fenster, who has a lawsuit against the state of Colorado over the tax limitations imposed by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. (emphasis added)
My first encounter with Fenster occurred in July 2009, before the Long-Term Fiscal Stability Commission. He delivered some extensive remarks to make a twofold case: 1) Colorado underfunds higher education, and 2) therefore, the state should privatize the University of Colorado. (I was there to deliver my own testimony, sharing the context of K-12 school funding data and the need for real reforms, but that’s a story for another day.)
Six months later, the longtime lawyer’s name emerged with reports that he was going to sue the State of Colorado in federal court, alleging that the state constitution’s nearly 20-year-old Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of a “republican form of government” in every state. Yes, many of us were scratching our heads. Denver Post columnist Vincent Carroll called the Fenster lawsuit “the most imaginative legal assault on TABOR.”
Their legal arguments undercut, now the anti-tax crowd has to grimace again as their front man takes a PR hit. It’s not exactly Colorado’s version of tax-evading New York U.S. Rep Charlie Rangel, but any time a story like the one in the Daily Camera ends with a zinger like this one, you know it can’t feel too good for those who want government to collect more and more of our hard-earned money:
“It’s a wonderful thing to have somebody who doesn’t pay taxes working to undo tax limitations,” (Independence Institute president Jon) Caldara said. “You have a tax scofflaw working to raise taxes. If only Herb Fenster paid his taxes, he could help offset the cost of defending the state against his own lawsuit.”
Irony, thy name is Fenster.