When an electronic IRS filing surfaced earlier this week linking pro-choice Assembly candidate Fiona Ma to an anti-abortion governor of South Dakota, it seemed like great political fodder for her opponent and fellow Democrat Janet Reilly.
Reilly's campaign circulated the document to the media, an abortion rights group and an elected official to discredit Ma, while Ma strenuously denied any link to Gov. Mike Rounds, and her campaign called the document "dirty Nixonian tricks."
It turns out both campaigns were wrong. The blame for the brouhaha, which roiled the campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 12th Assembly District, actually lies with someone else: the tax man.
IRS officials said Thursday that Ma had shown up in an electronic tax filing as the treasurer of South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds’ 2002 campaign because of a glitch in the federal agency’s database. The IRS said information from another campaign Ma had worked on as treasurer, Kimiko Burton for Public Defender, was mistakenly merged with the Rounds campaign filing.
"We are extremely sorry this error occurred," the IRS said in a statement.
At a press conference Thursday, Ma blasted Janet Reilly's campaign for circulating the document without verifying its accuracy.
"What troubles me, and I am certain will trouble the voters, is we have a candidate, Janet Reilly, who did not show leadership in this situation," Ma said. "Being a leader requires looking at all the facts and not jumping to conclusions before acting."
Reilly's campaign spokesman Eric Jaye said Ma was trying to deflect criticism from its independent expenditures.
"The supervisor’s efforts today had more to do with attracting attention away from Sacramento- based independent expenditures," Jaye said.