A watchdog group asked the Justice Department on Thursday to investigate whether a congressman broke the law by not paying taxes and using his office's resources for campaign activities.
Media reports have disclosed that an advertising company owned by the family of Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., owed more than $150,000 in back taxes and penalties, despite getting nearly $500,000 in business from the Atlanta congressman's campaigns since he won office in 2002. The Politico Web site first reported the story in May.
The complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington also cited allegations by a former employee that Scott has used his congressional staff and office equipment to work on his campaigns.
"Members of Congress, like all other citizens, cannot pick and choose which laws to obey," said executive director Melanie Sloan. The group also sent the complaint to the IRS and the House ethics committee.
In a statement, Scott criticized CREW for rehashing old information that was first circulated by an election opponent. Scott's chief of staff, Michael Andel, noted that the congressman is no longer an officer with the company and said Scott's family has negotiated or paid down much of the back taxes in recent months. He also denied that Scott has used congressional staffers or other public resources for his campaigns.
"CREW basically recycled a 5-month-old news story," the statement said.
The Scott family's company, Dayn-Mark Advertising, which Scott ran before entering Congress, repeatedly has missed payments to the Internal Revenue Service since the 1980s, according to tax liens filed in Fulton County, Ga.
Scott's wife, Alfredia, now heads the business. She has said she is working with the IRS to settle the matter. Much of the problem, she said, stems from confusion over the IRS' mistakenly giving the company two identification numbers when Dayn-Mark moved several years ago.
Other liens showed several years of unpaid property taxes on the couple's house near downtown Atlanta. The Scotts have provided mortgage and IRS statements to The Associated Press documenting annual property tax payments dating to 2004. They said the bank misdirected those payments.
Andel said Thursday the personal property taxes have been completely resolved. But he said he could not immediately provide specifics on how much Dayn-Mark still owes.
Justice Department spokeswoman Jaclyn Lesch said the department takes such complaints seriously. "It will be sent to the appropriate entity within the department for review," she said.