Intuit Spends $1 Million On Controller Race
Oct. 30 - KGO (KGO) -- Not a lot of Californians can tell you who is running for state controller. It's not a race that grabs headlines, but it certainly is raking in the money. So why are millions being spent?
There's really just one reason -- money. The state controller has a lot to say about your state taxes. And so it's not surprising that a Silicon Valley company that makes Turbo Tax would be very interested in the campaign.
Turbo Tax is the name of the computer software that helps you file your taxes. The company that makes it is Intuit. Intuit has put a million dollars into a committee that's backing Republican state controller candidate Tony Strickland.
Why? Well Strickland's Democratic opponent, John Chiang, is a big supporter of a free tax filing program called Ready Return. He's challenging Strickland on that issue.
John Chiang, (D) State Controller Candidate: "It's absolutely critical as a state controller who chairs the Franchise Tax Board whether he supports free income taxes, free assistance to taxpayers, or is he going to send them to the private sector and make them pay money."
Tony Strickland's campaign manager said today, "Strickland will be the watchdog of government expenses, protecting taxpayers and fighting to get rid of waste. We appreciate the support of any Californian who shares those goals."
A political consultant for the communication and computer industry, speaking on behalf of Intuit, called the Ready Return program a bad idea.
Rob Stutzman, political consultant: "You receive from the government your tax form filled out and are told to pay it. If there's a mistake on there, how would you know?"
On the other side, Joe Bankman teaches tax law at Stanford University and is a big supporter of Ready Return.
Joe Bankman, Stanford Law Professor: "Ninety-eight percent of the folks that used it wanted to use it again. So the best refutation of Intuit's arguments is to actually look at the people that used Ready Return and see what they said -- they loved it."
Intuit is far from the only big contributor. Unions are giving hundreds of thousands to Chiang and Indian tribes are giving generously, mostly to Strickland, but Chiang is getting some tribal money as well.
Among voters, neither candidate has good name recognition. The latest poll done by the Los Angeles Times shows Chiang with a slight lead, but within the survey's margin of error.
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