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KKK Leader Turned Politician David Duke Defends Late Tax Payments

February 8, 1991

METAIRIE, La. (AP) _ State Rep. David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader turned politician, admits he paid his property taxes late but said there was nothing illegal about it.

Duke, who was elected to the Louisiana Legislature as a Republican two years ago, said Thursday that he paid the property taxes and back interest for 1987, 1989 and 1990 this week because of news reports that he owed the money.

″There’s nothing illegal or immoral about waiting to pay,″ said Duke, who lost a bid for the U.S. Senate last year and is now running for governor. ″I was going to pay the money. It’s not like anybody was cheated out of anything.″

The law takes a different view, however. Failure to pay the 1987 taxes meant that Duke’s home could have been seized and sold by the Sheriff’s Office in about six months, said Bubby Gauthreaux, a tax specialist in the Sheriff’s Office.

Duke owed $2,857 in assessed taxes, interest and other charges through Jan. 31, Jefferson Parish sheriff records showed.

Duke said his late payments helped Jefferson Parish because he had to pay $461 in interest and processing costs on top of the $2,396 in taxes.

″My parish makes more money this way,″ Duke said.

A spokesman for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Duke made a payment for property taxes Wednesday. He would not reveal the amount.

Duke is former imperial wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Now he says that his involvement in the supremacist group was a youthful indescretion, but he still refers to himself as a white civil rights worker.

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