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Sen. Tammy Duckworth

A Fox News headline smeared Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) for not paying Illinois property taxes — failing to note that as a disabled veteran, she is exempt.

"Democrat Tammy Duckworth hasn't paid property tax on her Illinois home since 2015, report says," the network misleadingly charged.

The headline appeared atop a story, aggregating a Chicago Sun-Times report from last Friday, about the 27,288 Cook County, Illinois, homeowners who are exempt from property taxes.


Both articles noted that Duckworth, who lost both legs while serving in Iraq as part of the Illinois Army National Guard and was honored with a Purple Heart, is fully entitled to the tax break. Illinois exempts veterans who are at least 70 percent disabled from property taxes on homes worth $775,000 and under.

VoteVets, a progressive veterans organization, blasted the headline on Sunday: "Let's get something CLEAR: @TammyDuckworth proudly served our country, lost her legs, and EARNED that benefit. We'd say FOX News is a cancer on our national discourse but that would be an insult to cancer."

As of Monday morning, Fox News had altered its headline slightly to "Democrat Tammy Duckworth slammed for getting tax break on her Illinois home," but had not deleted its tweet with the original language.

But no one is actually quoted in the story slamming Duckworth or the many others who benefit from property tax exemptions.

The lone criticism in the piece comes from Laurence Msall, a former aide to disgraced ex-Illinois Republican Gov. George Ryan, who suggested the law was unfair but did not attack Duckworth.

"What we have done is to create all special sorts of categories — veterans, disabled people, senior citizens — and all of those exemptions administered by the county basically undermine the integrity of the property tax system," he told the Sun-Times. He opined that the lack of means testing for these exemptions is "unfair."

Special tax breaks for those who served in the military — especially those who are disabled — tend to be quite popular.

On Election Day last year, New Jersey voters backed a $250 property tax deduction for all peacetime veterans by a 76 percent -24 percent margin in a ballot referendum. On the same day, Virginians voted 86 percent -14 percent to exempt disabled veterans from motor vehicle property taxes.

Fox News has frequently played up its supposed support for the military and veterans. It has a section on its website called "Fox News Salutes," aggregating coverage of vets.

As of Monday morning, the top story on the page was the smear of Duckworth.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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