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City Council candidate failed to pay federal taxes

Jason Williams Jason Williams

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - One of the candidates running for an at-large seat on the New Orleans City Council owes thousands of dollars in back taxes to the IRS.

Attorney Jason Williams will face off against Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell Saturday in a run-off race for an at-large seat. Heading into the election, questions are being raised about Williams' finances.

"It's very concerning and where does it stop?" asked Hedge-Morrell's campaign consultant, Todd Ragusa. "City Council, mayor's office and beyond, I think people need to look at who they're electing in these situations."

According to documents filed with the city, Williams failed to pay more than $100,000 in federal taxes from 2001 to 2008. The documents show the various amounts he owed by year. In 2001 it was only $367 dollars, but 2003 saw him owing $57,000.

We asked  Williams if he wanted to go on camera to discuss the issue. Instead, his campaign manager sent a statement from Williams saying that he has disputed the amount of the tax bills for years 2001, 2002 and 2003. It also says, "I was in the process of making good-faith payments until Hurricane Katrina in 2005."

Williams goes on to say that because of the storm, he was forced to suspend operations at his law practice, and since then, "The IRS has re-evaluated and reduced the original amounts owed and have subsequently refunded amounts back to me."

But Ragusa says the tax documents should be cause for concern.

"All I can say is, there's a record of eight years of not paying your taxes," Ragusa said. "That's pretty striking."

Williams' statement says Hedge-Morrell's camp is trying to take voters away from important issues of the campaign. The Hedge-Morrell camp contends this is an issue that voters need to know about.

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