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Danny Tarkanian acknowledges bankruptcy truth

Well, look who wrote a letter to the editor! It’s Congressional District 3 candidate Danny Tarkanian, who’s angry about a column I wrote recently concerning a potentially misleading flier in his race.

Tarkanian said it was “reckless” that I misidentified the creditors he failed to pay after filing for bankruptcy when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took over a failed California bank from which he’d borrowed money. I mistakenly said it was the taxpayers who got stiffed, when in fact it was the FDIC, which is supported by banks.

My bad. A correction was promptly published.

But the original point of my column — that Tarkanian’s description of his bankruptcy filing in a political mailer was misleading at best, a lie at worst — remains valid regardless of who got left holding the bag. As a proof of that, I present my first witness: Tarkanian himself!

In the flier that gave rise to my original column, Tarkanian said this about his unfortunate business setback:

“…when I failed [in business] I didn’t walk away — I paid my debts in full and then I bounced right back.” (emphasis added)

This is not accurate. Tarkanian’s total debt was estimated at $17 million. But after going through bankruptcy, he paid just $525,000. While Tarkanian did pay in full what the court ordered him to pay in the bankruptcy case, he certainly didn’t pay his original debt “in full.” In fact, bankruptcy is the legal process that allows people not to pay their debts in full, because they simply can’t do so.

And now, Tarkanian himself has acknowledged that fact. In his letter to the editor, Tarkanian says this about his bankruptcy:

“I paid my settlement in full and the taxpayers were held harmless. Those are facts in the public record.” (emphasis added)

Now that’s an accurate statement. In fact, if Tarkanian had said that in his flier in the first place, I would never have written a column questioning whether he was trying to deceive people. And while I did make a mistake about who got stiffed in the process, I’m gratified that Tarkanian has now set the record straight as well.

Tarkanian adds in his letter that I’m out to get him, or words to that effect:

“It’s no secret that Mr. Sebelius opposes my candidacy on ideological grounds — and that’s his right. But he should have been more careful. In addition, the timing of his article, published the day before the start of early voting, is highly suspect.”

Actually, I have no problem with Tarkanian’s candidacy. Everybody in America has the right to run for office, and Tarkanian has exercised that right a lot, seeking a state Senate seat in 2004, secretary of state in 2006, U.S. Senate in 2010, Congressional District 4 in 2012, and, almost, a seat on the Board of Regents in 2014.

I think he meant to say that he and I have ideological differences on the issues, which is true, but irrelevant. I was still glad to welcome him to the TV show I co-host, “PoliticsNOW” on 8NewsNow, to share his views with Las Vegas, and I’d be glad to feature him on that show again on TV if he wins Tuesday’s primary.

The bottom line is, I thought him saying he paid his debt “in full” when in fact he’d paid about 3 percent of that debt was incorrect. I wrote my column as soon as I became aware of his flier, not with respect to any particular date on the election calendar or political belief. And I would raise the same objection if I saw the same error in the future.

But since Tarkanian and I now seem to agree — he paid his settlement in full, not his original debt — it seems this particular quarrel is ended. On to Tuesday’s primary!

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