Prominent anti-tax crusader Carol Palesky has died at an assisted living facility in Freeport. Palesky was known for her passion and outspoken criticism of all taxes.
Palesky led several state-wide petition drives to limit taxes in Maine. The early drives fell short of the required signatures and got Palesky in trouble with the law. She was eventually jailed for actions committed during one effort - which she claimed was part of a government conspiracy to silence anti-tax activists.
"In attempts to downsize government, government is going to come against them," she said.
Palesky was born in New Jersey but relocated to Topsham, Maine, in 1975. The Portland Press Herald reports that she filed multiple lawsuits against the town after it completed a revaluation of its property taxes. Officials eventually got an injunction prohibiting her from filing more suits.
Later, Palesky formed the Maine Taxpayer Association Network to challenge tax policy in the state. In 1996 she led an initiative that produced more than 50,000 signatures to place a tax cap proposal on the ballot in an upcoming election.
But, according to court documents, more than half of those signatures were invalidated by the secretary of state after they were turned in. Palesky was convicted of forgery for changing dates on the petition and sentenced to nine months in jail.
Palesky had previously been convicted of embezzling from a law firm, and acquitted by reason of insanity of robbing a bank in Mechanic Falls. She asserted neither run-in with the law affected her tax-cap proposal work.
"There are people in government right now who are corrupt and violating issues. What I have done in the past, or have been alleged to have done in the past is not at issue here," Palesky said in 1998.
Finally, Palesky's 2004 initiative collected enough valid signatures to trigger a statewide referendum. In a phone interview for Maine Things Considered she outlined the reasons why it should pass.
"People in Maine and businesses in Maine are having to either move out or sell their property because they can't afford the taxes in Maine. Maine is one of the highest taxed states in the nation compared to income," Palesky said. "Maine will never grow and have good business here and good jobs if the taxes continue to rise at the rates that they've been rising."
Voters defeated the effort at the ballot box. Others took up Palesky’s anti-tax efforts, launching two other citizen-initiated tax limit proposals, one in 2006 and one in 2009. Both efforts failed.
The Times Record newspaper reports that Carol Palesky died with her family by her side last week. She was 78 years old.