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South Bend Tribune - Donnelly-Chocola Slugfest Continues

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Date:
Location: South Bend, IN

The Joe Donnelly-Chris Chocola slugfest took off again
Friday as the congressional candidates duked it out over such issues as
the estate tax and who lives where.

Donnelly, a Granger Democrat, complained at a Friday press conference that a new television attack by incumbent congressman Chris Chocola, R-2nd, is distorting his position on the estate tax.

Donnelly also made a point of noting, "Unlike my opponent who lives in the Fort Wayne congressional district, I live in this district."

Chocola's Bristol home is located just outside the district he represents
in Congress, although he has built a vacation home on Lake Maxinkuckee in Culver that is inside the district. Chocola told The Tribune that he does not intend to play the political game and change his voting address to the Culver home.

Donnelly said he supports a House-passed bill that would raise the
applicability limits for the estate tax to $5 million for an individual
and $10 million for a couple.

Currently, the tax applies to individual estates valued at $2 million and
at $4 million for a couple and, according to Donnelly, affects less than 1
percent of Indiana's farms and small businesses.

The Democratic challenger said Chocola also voted in favor of the estate
tax change, putting them on the same side of the issue.

"Chris Chocola's ads continue to lie about my position on cutting taxes,"
Donnelly said. "I am a common-sense Democrat, and I reaffirm my continued support for increasing the estate tax exemption and making permanent all of the Bush tax cuts except those that go to the top 1 percent."

The Chocola ad, which began airing this week, accuses Donnelly of
supporting increased taxes on working-class families and seniors and of
supporting the "death tax," a term used by opponents to describe the
estate tax.

Donnelly accused Chocola of "mud-slinging" and said district residents
deserve better from a four-year incumbent.

"Joe Donnelly has no credibility on taxes," Chocola spokesman Brooks
Kochvar shot back.

"Joe Donnelly may be confused about where he stands on taxes," Kochvar said, "but voters of the 2nd District know that Chris Chocola is the only candidate in this race who has consistently fought for and voted for lower taxes."

Kochvar also produced a copy of a September 2005 Donnelly statement in which he criticized Chocola in connection with the tax.

In the statement, Donnelly asked, "How does Chris Chocola justify doing
away with the 'Paris Hilton tax' -- the estate tax on rich families --
when we're spending $1 billion in Iraq and the president's just committed us for $200 billion to rebuild the gulf region from Hurricane Katrina?"

Donnelly spokesman Katie Nee said Friday that Donnelly has been consistent on the issue and believes the country can't afford to do away with the tax on estates above $5 million for an individual and $10 million for a couple.


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