We reported this morning that Harold Ford had never filed a New York tax return because that's precisely what his spokeswoman Tammy Sun told us. Now she's trying to backpedal, and, we hear, lying to other reporters about our story.
Earlier today, we reported that Harold Ford has never filed a New York state tax return because Sun told us he "will file a New York tax return in April for the first time." Now Sun has issued a new statement and three added words: he "will file a NY tax return in April for the first time as a resident." Sun seems to believe undercuts what she told us late last night — that her client Harold Ford had never filed a New York tax return. It doesn't. But first a little backstory:
We first inquired as to whether or not Ford had ever filed a tax return to New York tax return on Tuesday. Here's our initial email to Davidson Goldin, Ford's primary flack, who was on his honeymoon at the time. As you can see from the email, we also called and left a message with Tammy Sun of Let It Shine, Inc., who was holding down the Ford fort while Goldin was away.
Goldin replied later that night with an off-the-record comment about our item on Ford's unforgivably yellow apartment. We responded to him — and cc'd Sun — with the same question: "Has he ever filed a New York tax return?"
The next day, we repeated the question to Sun:
Sun promised to get back to us that day. She did, but not with an answer:
So we tried again:
We didn't hear back, so yesterday, we e-mailed Sun to let her know that we were prepared to take nonresponsiveness as a "no comment":
Bingo! Late last night, we got this from Sun: "During a press avail, he said that he pays New York taxes and will file a NY tax return in April for the first time."
We had asked repeatedly whether Ford had ever filed a New York tax return, and she told us definitively that he had not — that he had filed zero New York tax returns, and that the one he files in April will be the "first." We looked for coverage of the press availability Sun mentioned, and there was no recounting we could find of his discussion of the tax issue. So we e-mailed her back to make sure we were understanding her correctly — repeating back our understanding that she was saying that he had "never filed a NY tax return" — and to ask what other "New York taxes" Ford had paid. We didn't want to get anything wrong!
We didn't get a response. So we wrote this item reporting what she told us — that Harold Ford has never filed a tax return to the state of New York.
So we got a call from Sun about an hour ago. It was off the record. The only on the record part that we can report occurred after we rescinded our consent to conduct and off-the-record interview, at which point she said, "This was an off the record phone call. I'm not consenting to this. I'll send you an e-mail you can use."
Suffice it to say that Sun thinks our reporting in this regard — which is based almost entirely on information she provided to us — is erroneous. How so? Well, she wouldn't let us put her argument on the record or attach her name to it, so we're not going to say. We've been told, however, that she's lying to reporters that are calling her to follow up on our report, and telling them that we got it wrong. If we did get it wrong — by which we mean to say that if Sun erroneously passed along bad information to us and ignored our attempts to make sure we understood what she was telling us clearly—it would be very easy for Harold Ford, or Sun, or Goldin, to release a statement saying "Harold Ford filed income tax returns in 2007 and 2008 to the state of New York." I wonder why they're not doing that? Anyway, here's the statement we got from Sun:
As you can see from the foregoing email exchanges, we took no liberties with any facts. Sun's latest email no longer answers the first question we asked: Has Harold Ford ever filed a New York tax return? If he has, why won't he say so?