October 17, 2008 – 4:38PM
Updated: October 17, 2008 – 7:25PM
Daniel Newhauser, For the Tribune (East Valley Tribune- Metro Phoenix’s East Valley Region)
A plumbing license is not the only license “Joe the Plumber” is having troubles with. The former Mesa resident has a suspended driver’s license and outstanding court fines in Arizona, according to Mesa Municipal Court records.
“Joe,” whose real name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, was referred to more than 20 times by Republican Sen. John McCain in Wednesday night’s presidential debate for questioning Democratic Sen. Barack Obama’s tax policy.
The man portrayed by McCain to be the typical, hardworking American revealed this week that he actually does not have a plumbing license, and now court records show he should not have a driver’s license either, making it potentially even harder for him to get to work.
Wurzelbacher, who lived in Mesa in 2000 and had an Arizona driver’s license, had his driver’s license suspended by the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division on May 4, 2000, following a nonpayment of a court-imposed fine for civil traffic violations, according to court records.
America’s new political icon, who owes nearly $1,200 in back taxes, according to public records, still owes more than $700 to the Mesa court system.
Records show he was cited for failure to stop at a red light and for failure to provide proof of insurance on Feb. 9, 2000, in a black Dodge truck at the intersection of Dobson and Baseline roads in Mesa.
After failing to pay his original fine of $627.50 issued in March 2000, his license was suspended and the fine was handed over to a collection agency along with a 16 percent surcharge. The now-resident of Holland, Ohio, still owes $727.90 to the Mesa Municipal Court, according to court records.
Nevertheless, Wurzelbacher’s driver’s license is still valid in Ohio, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and was renewed as recently as May 2005. Ohio law requires a license to be renewed every four years, meaning Wurzelbacher likely obtained an Ohio license in 2001, one year after having his Arizona license suspended.
With a suspended license in one state, it should not be possible to get a new license in another, said Cydney DeModica, spokeswoman for the Arizona MVD.
The only way “Joe the Plumber” could have slipped through the cracks is a clerical error in which his driving records were not entered into the Problem Driver Pointer System, the national database of information about people with a checkered driving past, said Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Lindsay Komlanc.
Komlanc added if the Ohio BMV were to receive the information, appropriate action could be taken, including suspension of his Ohio license.