County treasurer candidate is behind paying his tax bills
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.”