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Now We Know Why Braun Didn't Want to Release Tax Returns

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 5, 2011 2:00PM

Since Danny Davis and James Meeks dropped out of the mayoral race to back Carol Moseley braun, the former senator has had one misstep after another.

After backpeddaling on her statement that she wouldn't release her income tax returns, mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun released portions of her 2008 and 2009 income tax returns, showing that she lost a quarter million dollars in 2008, and paid taxes on less than $15,000 in 2009. Braun claimed that the losses and low income reflect her struggle to keep her business, Ambassador Organics, afloat.

"After leaving public service, in 2005 I became an entrepreneur. I founded my small business, Ambassador Organics, not in a downtown office, but in a South Side neighborhood, guided by the same principals and values that I fought for in government. My desire to offer food products that are free of pesticides and grown in a way that sustains our earth is a true expression of who I am and what I stand for," she said in a statement to the press. Braun has touted her experience as a business owner as a qualification for mayor.

She also took the opportunity to slam two of her opponents, former Democratic Party operative Rahm Emanuel and Daley's former schools boss Gery Chico. “The reality is that unlike Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Chico, who traded on their government relations for vast riches when they left office, I did not,’’ said Braun. Braun added that her income in 2009 was due in large part to pensions she's earned from her prior positions in the public sector.

The losses and low income raise questions about Braun, some of which can be explained by what we know about people in political public positions. How she afforded to maintain a home in Hyde Park, for example, could be attributed to investments and real estate deals that she made prior to 2008. (She's said that she's held off on paying property taxes to put more capital into her business.) But the larger question that remains unexplained in her partial tax return disclosure is how good she is at running a business, which she claims she's operated since 2005 on her campaign website.

The current state of the American economy notwithstanding, a $225,000 business loss, followed by a year with no salary could be explained by a competent business owner. But that's just it - there is no explanation from Braun of the negative cash flow, or how many people she continues to employ as a result of her business decisions. With Chicago's next mayor set to stare down economic woes and a budget deficit of epic proportions, a business owner with real credentials owes the voters of Chicago at the least an explanation for the state of her business, if she's going to run on her credentials.