Monday, February 09, 2009

Diane Lee finally is removed

The Central Election Commission (CEC) voted to annul KMT legislator Diane Lee's elections for the last 14 years as she is a dual citizenship holder and thus, cannot hold legislative office in Taiwan. The case had dragged on since before the Presidential election in 2008, with the US State department saying a couple of times that Lee is a US citizen, and DPP politicians exposing her US tax returns, social security number, and other citizenship-related documents. Despite the overwhelming case against her, Lee has consistently refused to admit she did anything wrong. The Kuomintang News Network reports:
The dispute over former Kuomintang legislator Diane Lee’s dual ROC-US citizenship has lasted nearly one year. The Central Election Commission (CEC) decided last week to annul all of Lee’s wins in previous elections, including the 7th Taipei City Council and the 4th, 5th, and 6th Legislative Yuan. The CEC annulled all relevant election certificates she had received from 1994 to 2005, the period Lee was identified to have held dual nationality and concurrently served in public office. The ruling was made as eight CEC members voted for it while three opposed.

As regards repayment of her income as “illegal gains,” the CEC said that the issue should be forwarded to the Taipei City Council and Legislative Yuan, respectively, for further discussion as they had been responsible for her salaries.

In response, Lee issued a statement yesterday, saying that the CEC was only an administrative agency and, hence, did not have the authority to annul her previous election victories. Lee vowed that she would appeal the CEC’s ruling in accordance with the law. Likewise, Diane Lee’s lawyer, Lee Yung-ran, said that the ruling was unlawful because an electoral action was legitimate only after a judicial ruling was made. The lawyer claimed that the CEC shouldn’t have arbitrarily annulled Lee’s wins in previous elections and that Diane Lee would seek an administrative remedy within the legal 30-day period after she received an official notification from the CEC.
Lee (李慶安) is the daughter of KMT monster heavyweight Lee Huan. Her brother Lee Ching-hua is also a legislator, and co-founded the New Party back in 1993. Both would leave the KMT to join the PFP when James Soong founded that in 2001 after an unsuccessful run for the Presidency in 2000, breaking ranks to support Soong just days before the election, when it seemed highly probable he would win. The Lees rejoined the KMT when the PFP quietly disappeared a couple of years ago.

A quick comparison might be illuminating. Under the law Lee must return the $3 millon she made over the last 14 years in salary for her various posts. The CEC declined to enforce that, saying it was up to the legislature and the Taipei City Council, two bodies currently under the control of the KMT, to order the money returned. Since the Chen family must return its monies to Taiwan....
The SIU had provided the Chen Chih-chung couple with information of an official bank account designated by the Prosecutor General’s Office, but to date no funds were remitted into the account. If the Chen Chih-chung couple hope to have their plea bargaining petition approved, they have to provide assistance to the prosecutors to arrange a wire transfer to the Prosecutor General’s account of the NT$ 240 million and the US$ 10 million which Yuan-Ta Securities had remitted to their Swiss bank accounts. If they did so, the SIU would consider commencing the plea bargaining procedure with the Chen couple based on their cooperative attitude and behavior. would seem right to ask that Lee return her salary. It will be an interesting test of the system. Lee, the privileged scion of a powerful family, was once a possibility for Taipei mayor. The Taipei Times has a good backgrounder on her and her sibs here.


apple said...

Just read the 2002 Taipei Times article about Lee that you linked to. It beggars belief that one who lived in a glasshouse was so eager to throw stones. I guess she believes she is above the law (and probably is to some extent).

Nick said...

I'm getting mixed messages from my feeds, is the all omnipotent and righteous Diane Lee appealing or apologizing?

Anonymous said...

I imagine she will pay back the money, but it will not be from her own pocket. Someone will secretly loan her the money and debts will appear to be paid. If she does pay any money to the government, I am sure she'll be rewarded with stock options, insider knowledge of government infrastructure projects and other schemes to reward her for taking the fall. This way the KMT can continue applying its double standard.

Marc said...

The US has its Blagojevich, Taiwan has its Diane Lee. Media Three-Ring Circuses!

keauxgeigh said...

Not defending her, but looking impartially (a concept apparently unknown in Taiwan, even in the justice dept.) at the salary repayment issue:

So if she, or anyone in her position, has to return 12 years of salary, then she first needs 12 years of income tax paid returned to her. I'm curious to see how they recover money that she has already spent.

And while they're trying to wipe clean any indication that she held office stemming from fraudulent election, I suppose they have to revisit every piece of legislation she participated in and annul any contribution or vote by her. If they're taking back the salary, they can't unjustly benefit from whatever work she actually performed.

Michael Turton said...

The CEC addressed that in their decision, the "annullment" of everything issue. They only annulled her elections, NOT her actions as legislator. In other news, the Pope announced that Henry the Eighth's marriages never occurred.

Although I like the observation about the income tax!

Robert Roth said...

Regarding the legislature getting her to work for "free", I'd say all of her "work" is tainted by her dual allegiance. As in "It's OK if I run this country into the ground... I always have backup options." Then again, many of those in power likely have easy outs if things go south here.

If there's any reason to review her work, it's with this in mind. In a practical sense, that'd just be in legislation she drafted, or others that passed (or failed) by just "her" vote. With her other positions, I can't say.

For income tax, one would assume that she should just return the net income, not gross.

Anonymous said...

Another item that will be quite interesting is that if she is still a US citizen, then US taxes must be paid on the NT$100 million in salaries she has received. It will be interesting to see if the IRS comes after her on this (or, alternatively, if she has indeed paid taxes on this, and thus put to rest any 'intention' she had to relinquish her citizenship by taking the oath of office she has previously claimed).

Taiwan Echo said...

One thing worth mentioning is, what CEC nullified is Diane Lee's position PRIOR to her last term of legislator, because, according to the new law passed in the end of 2007, CEC has no right to nullify her term starting from Febrary, 2008.

It's in the land of Legislative Yuan, but KMT-controlled LY has been covering her crime all along.

For now, Diane Lee "resigned" from LY, not "fired" or "nullified."

The difference is, not only does Diane Lee get to keep all her salary in this last term, but also is eligible to receive pensions every month since her "retired".

And it's all thanks to KMT's cover-up.

Taiwan Echo said...

Pretty interesting thoughts about the tax returns. Especially her tax duty to IRS of US.

If she did pay taxes to IRS -- That proves her intent to keep US citizenship. But should IRS return her taxes, if in the end she was ruled to return her salaries ?

If she did not pay taxes to IRS -- Shouldn't US government charge her for escaping the tax duty ?

Anonymous said...

"is tainted by her dual allegiance."

If this were a problem they'd have to annul every vote and policy order issued by the KMT.

Red A said...

You don't have to be a citizen to have the IRS want you to pay the fact that she paid taxes in the US should not be seen as "proving her intent" to keep citizenship.

In fact, even Americans who discard their citizenship can be forced to pay taxes in later years.

The IRS are serious people.

Taiwan Echo said...

RedA:"You don't have to be a citizen to have the IRS want you to pay taxes"

That's true, but -- correct me if I am wrong-- doesn't the rule "those work overseas need to pay taxes" applies only to US citizen ?

Diane Lee worked outside of USA territory. I think if she's a permanent resident of USA, then she doesn't need to pay taxes. So if she did pay, it still proves her intention to keep her citizenship.

Anonymous said...

In response to Red A, while it is true that not only US citizens pay US taxes, only US citizens pay taxes on income earned abroad, which is what her legislative salary would be. In fact, even if her salary was taken back by the Taiwan government due to a fraud conviction, she would still be liable for taxes. The US government is using this angle (unpaid taxes on illicit revenues) to convict drug dealers. Again, an interesting angle.