Kevin P. Gaughan said Tuesday he has paid his $28,000 debt to the Internal Revenue Service.
The Democratic candidate for county comptroller said he is now attempting to rejuvenate his campaign, which was damaged by revelations of several years of delinquent federal taxes.
Gaughan provided copies of an amended ethics disclosure he filed with Erie County on Tuesday that now shows no debts other than normal loans he is not required to report. He said that he was “happy and relieved to report I’ve paid all my taxes in full.”
The attorney and government activist was criticized by Republicans for the tax debt while running for an office that monitors Erie County’s $1.4 billion budget.
Gaughan said he encountered financial difficulties in the period between 2001 and 2006 when he was caring for his ailing mother, and entered into a voluntary payment schedule once he determined he was unable to afford his tax debt.
“I have written an apology to the IRS for my caring for my mother precluding me from making timely payments,” he said Tuesday. “I also apologize to anyone who was offended by this.
“As a candidate, I fully understand voters will weigh this matter,” he added. “I ask them to also weigh that I have made my obligations to my family and the government.”
Gaughan, 59, has emerged as a crusader for regional and smaller government over more than two decades. But as he vies for the county’s top fiscal position, Republicans have criticized him for his debts, especially because he earlier had refused to disclose the exact amount of the debt.
“I think the tax issue is a serious issue,” Stefan I. Mychajliw, the Republican incumbent and Gaughan’s opponent, said a few days ago. “How can you trust someone to collect taxes on behalf of Erie County when he can’t pay his own?”
But Gaughan emphasized Tuesday that he voluntarily contacted the IRS when he determined his inability to pay all of his taxes, leading to the payment plan. He also said he never missed a payment since he entered the agreement in 2007, and now has fully satisfied his obligations.
He said he paid the debt through a combination of his earnings as an attorney and a bank loan.
“Like many business people, I have a car loan and a bank loan,” he said. “Everybody has those, including me.”
Mychajliw is running for a second term, following a special election victory in 2012.
Gaughan has insisted ever since the tax problems were revealed that he should not be judged on the debt, but on a broader record as an advocate for regionalism and smaller government. He also criticized “party bosses” for exploiting the issue.
“I don’t believe it will work with voters familiar with my long years of service to the community,” Gaughan has said.