Being A Reporter Apparently Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry

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Being A Reporter Apparently Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry

CREATED Jun. 21, 2012

Diane Hendricks, a founder and owner of ABC Supply in Beloit, is entitled to an apology from the Wisconsin print media.  Unfortunately, I expect that she'll be waiting a long time before any apology is forthcoming.

ABC Supply was founded in 1982 by Diane Hendricks and her late husband Ken.  A true American (and Wisconsin) success story, ABC Supply now generates over $3.4 billion in revenue and employs over 6000 people.

In addition to being a successful businesswoman, Mrs. Hendricks is also a supporter of conservative causes in general - and Governor Walker in particular.  It's this support of the Governor that recently made her the target of stories produced by the local newspaper and parroted by the Associated Press that were - at best - extremely unfair. 

Disgraceful is another word that comes to mind.

The headline screams that "Walker's largest donor - owed no state taxes in 2010".  Oh, the outrage!  Another wealthy Republican scamming the system while ordinary folks pay their fair share.  How awful!

Or not.

The truth is, headlines notwithstanding, that Mrs. Hendricks pays a ton in taxes.

Prior to 2010, ABC Supply was an "S" corporation.  This means that the tax obligations of the company flowed directly to the owner (Mrs. Hendricks) - and were reported on her personal tax returns.   In 2010, the structure of the corporation was changed so that the tax obligation is now paid directly by the company.  The company paid over $373,000 in State taxes for the second half of 2010.  Since 2005, Mrs Hendricks (and her late husband) have also paid over $10 million in taxes!

Hard to argue they didn't pay their fair share. Yet that is precisely the implication of the story.

Let's review the bidding.

A successful Wisconsin businesswoman makes a relatively routine (and perfectly legal) change in the legal structure of her business.  As a result, the entity paying taxes changes.

And the story is ... ?

Let's be honest.  This was a really cheap shot launched at Governor Walker a week before the recall election in an unsuccessful effort to make him appear out of touch and beholden to the wealthy.  Mrs. Hendricks - and her reputation - was merely collateral damage.

I realize that in Wisconsin politics nowadays, pretty much anything goes.  Still, are there no standards at all?

I personally think Diane Hendricks deserves an apology for what I consider to be a really cheap shot.  I'd also advise her not to hold her breath waiting for any apology.

After all, being a reporter means never having to say you're sorry!  Especially if you're going after a conservative businessperson!  

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