Mortgage Chaos Ensnares White House Press Secretary Perino
Sorry, home foreclosure vultures. If you were hoping to acquire White House press secretary Dana Perino's home at a Washington, D.C. government auction tomorrow, it looks like you're out of luck.
President Bush's chief spokeswoman tells the Sleuth she has now paid her delinquent property tax bill in full and, therefore, she expects to avoid a scheduled sale this week of her Capitol Hill house.
Perino's home in Southeast Washington was slated to be "sold at public auction to the highest bidder" on Wednesday, according to the District of Columbia's Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR). Her name, along with hundreds of other alleged debtors (including Democratic political hotshot Hilary Rosen), appeared on an official OTR list published in The Washington Post on Aug. 21 citing D.C. residents who had failed to pay their property taxes and risked foreclosure. Perino owed the city $1,921.86, according to the public notice.
Talk about the mortgage crisis hitting the White House smack in the mouthpiece!
Perino blames the snafu on her mortgage company, which she declined to identify. She says her mortgage company handles payment of her property taxes and, well, "it was a mistake." One that was resolved on Aug. 25, when the mortgage company paid the outstanding tax bill in full, she said.
(But somebody had better tell that to the D.C. tax collectors! Because as of this week, the District's online property records still listed Perino as owing $2,858.89 in back taxes.)
If it hadn't been for an inquiry from a friendly reporter on the Post's Style section last month, Perino may never have learned about her tax debt in time to stop this week's scheduled auction. She says after the nice Style reporter brought the notice of non-payment to her attention, her husband called their mortgage company, which then took care of the matter. (And the ace White House spinmeister apparently talked Style out of writing about the matter.)
Incidentally, this isn't the Perino family's first scrape with the law here in the nation's capital.
Last year, Perino's husband, British businessman Peter McMahon, was thrown in jail for a day for failing to pay a ticket he was issued by the U.S. Park Police for walking their dog, Henry, a Vizsla, off leash. (Click here to read a particularly hilarious account of the saga, and photos of Henry and his scofflaw master. Our friends at the "other" paper, the D.C. Examiner, first had the scoop.)
At least Perino was in good bipartisan company on the dreaded delinquent property tax front.
Rosen, a Hillary Clinton insider, owed the D.C. government $10,152.45 in back taxes on their luxurious Palisades manse.
But Rosen isn't blaming the mortgage company. "I'd like to have the excuse that it was the bank's fault but apparently it was our fault - we missed the notices," Rosen said. (Hey, when you have to appear on CNN every night as a talking head, it's tough to keep track of the mail.)
She can't even use the John McCain too-many-houses-to-keep-track-of excuse. "I don't have seven houses to keep track of. Or even two! Just one," Rosen wrote in an email to the Sleuth, not wasting an opportunity for a partisan dig.
Like Perino, Rosen says she has taken care of the situation and paid her taxes since the scarlet D.C. revenue notice was published for all to see. "I hope Dana won't be homeless, either," she said.
Stay tuned to see whether their houses really do escape the auction block tomorrow.
Mary Ann Akers
September 16, 2008; 9:30 AM ET
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