RI Favorites - Chafee’s Tax Breaks on Cars and Home

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


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Our story about Lincoln Chafee and his car registrations—published on the eve of the election—was an instant hit with readers. It was shared on Facebook 360 times in just four hours. Based on the average number of Facebook friends a person has, it yielded 120,000 impressions in short order.

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Our report revealed that Chafee had a complex web of property ownership that allowed him to gain several tax breaks and other benefits. He had registered 11 motor vehicles at his Exeter farm while claiming a homestead exemption in Providence and formally declaring his residency in Warwick—in order to mount his campaign for governor from a political base of support.

Stories about wealthy politicians seeking out tax breaks aren’t necessarily new—but Chafee ran on a platform of being a different kind of politician, one who set a higher bar for himself than others seeking office. He also ran as the truth-teller on taxes, putting Rhode Islanders on notice that he planned to raise taxes and calling on all taxpayers to share the burden. All this made a story about his efforts to rack up tax breaks that much more interesting and relevant to Rhode Islanders as they headed to the polls the next day.


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