County trea­surer can­di­date is be­hind pay­ing his tax bills

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - METRO | STATE - BY NOLAN CLAY Staff Writer nclay@ok­la­

A can­di­date for the Ok­la­homa County post re­spon­si­ble for col­lect­ing taxes has fallen be­hind on pay­ing his own.

Daniel Chae has been pay­ing off more than $80,000 in over­due taxes on his per­sonal and busi­ness in­come, records show.

“We’re still mak­ing pay­ments on all those things,” Chae said. “I don’t think any of that stuff pre­vents me from be­ing a good trea­surer.”

Chae, a Demo­crat, faces long­time in­cum­bent Butch Free­man, a Re­pub­li­can, in the gen­eral elec­tion Tues­day.

Free­man has been county trea­surer since win­ning a 1993 spe­cial elec­tion.

Chae is in the food ser­vice in­dus­try. He said his fi­nan­cial is­sues are typ­i­cal of small busi­ness own­ers who take risks.

“My pri­or­i­ties were to pay my staff,” he said. “We’ve got things that break. We have to make real dif­fi­cult choices. Again, things that any small busi­ness owner un­der­stands.”

Free­man is high­light­ing Chae’s fed­eral and state tax liens and delin­quent county tax no­tices in a last-minute cam­paign mailer. The largest lien is for $28,310 in taxes owed on fed­eral per­sonal in­come in 2015.

Chae, 35, of Ok­la­homa City, de­scribed his op­po­nent as an out-of-touch ca­reer politi­cian. He called the neg­a­tive at­tack un­for­tu­nate but not un­ex­pected.

He pointed out he was named em­ployee of the year at a county job in­volv­ing fi­nances in Michi­gan, where he went to col­lege, while still un­der a lot of stu­dent debt. He sug­gested his ex­pe­ri­ence with debt ac­tu­ally makes him the bet­ter can­di­date for trea­surer.

“Now is a time where peo­ple un­der crush­ing debt ... need some­one who has been through hard­ship,” Chae said. “They don’t need some­one who’s been there for 25 years and doesn’t un­der­stand what nor­mal, ev­ery­day peo­ple go through.”

Free­man, 74, of Choctaw, re­sponded it is Chae who is out of touch.

“It’s out­landish to think you can be the county trea­surer and ask oth­ers to send you their taxes when you don’t pay your own,” Free­man said. “It is sim­ply wrong and un­eth­i­cal to run for an of­fice where you would be in charge of col­lect­ing delin­quent taxes from your­self.”

Butch Free­man

Daniel Chae

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