Republicans like to preach about fiscal responsibility. However, not all of their consultants like to pay their taxes.
Russ Duerstine is a person few people know about, but his influence within the Republican Party of Texas is strong.
He has prominent roles within the state's party, and is currently representing Senate District 28 for the State Republican Executive Committee and as a member of the Republican Party of Texas' Officials Committee. Duerstine also served as Chairman of the Tom Green County Republican Party until 2012.
As a political consultant, previous clients of Duerstine include Dallas mayor Tom Leppert, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate; Warren Chisum, a candidate for Railroad Commissioner; and Tom Mechler, candidate for RPT Chair.
His positions within the Republican Party of Texas on the SREC and Officials' Committee make him a leader with financial oversight of the state's party.
However, his personal financial issues point to years of dishonesty.
Read more below the jump:Let's go back 10 years.
Scott Howell & Co. Inc., a Republican political consulting firm, obtained a judgment against Duerstine in 2003 for $10,765.15, which included, “Post Judgment Interest at the rate of 10% per annum from date of Judgment until paid.” In 2012, the abstract of judgment was re-filed with the Tom Green County Clerk, and it stated that, “No credits exist on the amount due under the judgment and, therefore, the full balance of the judgment is due.” At the time, the amount Duerstine owed based on interest totaled more than $20,000.
However, this isn't the only financial issue for Duerstine. Since 2004, the IRS has filed a Notice of Federal Tax Lien against him five times.
According to IRS documents — which can be publicly found here — listed below are the dates of the filings and the amount of Duerstine's unpaid taxes:
The last IRS lien filed against Duerstine came soon after he had worked on Mechler's campaign to become Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. During that campaign, Duerstine strongly criticized Cathie Adams, then-chair of the state's party, over the large debt the Republican Party of Texas racked up.
From a story published in the San Angelo Standard Times on March 22, 2010 :
“Cathie got elected under the premise of collecting this big debt that she found and got the party in debt another $150,000,” Duerstine said. “She's not lived up to what she promised to do and the finances of the party are getting worse.”
Again, in a column published in the San Angelo Standard Times, Duerstine again focuses on fiscal responsibility:
“Are we not frustrated that many of the Republicans we elect don't govern as conservatively as they campaign? To help avert that, I recommend that Tea Party activists and disgruntled conservatives who care about fiscal issues form a coalition and perhaps call themselves Tea-publicans, dedicating their efforts to promoting fiscal responsibility in our party.”
As the 2014 elections approach, it will be noteworthy to see if any Republican candidates look at Duerstine's financial woes as a liability, or if his record of losing elections is considered to be the bigger reason not to hire him.
It's important for our democracy that our elected officials have honest intentions. One way to tell if that's the case is to look at who they associate with.