FIRST IT'S the serious tax troubles of the Democratic nominee for D.C. delegate to the U.S House -- and now comes the ludicrous tax dodge of the Democratic nominee for the shadow lobbying job in that same U.S House. Charles J. Moreland, a name familiar to maybe a tiny fraction of those who went ahead and voted for him anyway, has just acknowledged that he failed to file his federal income tax returns for at least the past five years and his District returns for the past three years. He claims he refused to file because he wanted to draw attention to the issue of statehood for the District. Obviously it's been a whale of an attention-getter over all these years -- even if he didn't exactly broadcast this news until a reporter asked him about his tax habits this week.

But Mr. Moreland's keen sense of Congress and this city is reflected in his explanation Monday: "It puts me in a better position to achieve the goal of statehood. We have to confront the system." That should be a big seller on the Hill, where the city's voters are supposed to send two Senate lobbyists and one House lobbyist to promote the statehood cause. Even before Mr. Moreland's rather silent protest came to light, there were more than a few people downtown as well as in Congress who were suggesting that these lobbyists would be without clout. By the way, Walter Fauntroy himself, who made noise about holding back federal taxes as a protest, thought better of it when he decided to run for mayor.

While we're at it, wasn't the whole misguided idea at that time to withhold federal taxes and not District income taxes as well? What was the message for the local government here? Mr. Moreland, unlike Mrs. Norton, blithely acknowledges that he himself, not someone else, failed to file the tax forms and pay the taxes. Her case, in our judgment, while very serious, still has many questions to be resolved. Mr. Moreland's case is shatteringly clear. The Democrats should find a way to take him off the ballot.