Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Va-05: Hurt's Fundin' Conundrum; Verga Makes it Rain

It looks as if the Republican circular firing squad is in full swing here in Virginia's Fifth District.

Last week, State Sen. Robert Hurt's campaign said it was likely that they will raise money during the upcoming General Assembly session. Under state law, it is illegal for legislators to accept money for state-level campaigns during the session; since Hurt is running for a federal office, that law will not apply to him. Though he's not technically breaking any laws, raising money during the session would certainly fly in the face of those ethics rules, and that point was not lost on the Verga camp, which promptly let him have it:

"Does anyone think that a lobbyist in Richmond wouldn’t give Hurt a donation to his federal campaign in an attempt to influence him?" said Matt Mackowiak, a Verga consultant. "It might be legal under the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law."

Couple that with today's press release from the Verga camp and you've got a veritable catfight:
"On Senator Hurt's brand new website he has the bold-faced lie that he has 'consistently opposed tax increases that did not put the people
first.' Does he think that the people are dumb enough to forget that he voted to raise your taxes by $1.4 billion, the largest tax increase in Virginia history, and he even tried to raise taxes unconstitutionally? Shame on Senator Hurt for belittling the citizens of the 5th District who certainly haven't forgotten as we are still paying for his tax hikes daily. People are tired of career politicians like Senator Hurt who distort their atrocious record to further their own aspirations."

Senator Hurt has voted 6 times for higher taxes. Below is a summary of those votes:

In 2002, Hurt Voted To Increase The Excise Tax On Soft Drinks. "Increases the amount of tax in the current top bracket from $6,000 to $7,200 for gross receipts exceeding $10,000,000 but not more than $25,000,000. It also adds two additional brackets: for gross receipts exceeding $25,000,000 but not more than $50,000,000, the tax is $18,000 and for gross receipts exceeding $50,000,000 the tax is $33,000. The soft drink excise tax is imposed on every wholesaler or distributor of carbonated soft drinks." (HB 193, Passed, 84-Y; 12-N, 01/24/02, Hurt Voted Yea)

In 2004, Hurt Voted Against Lower Tax Rates For Businesses. "Phases in lower rates based on growth for each of the four BPOL categories by five cents and allows only a $25 fee rather than $50, for businesses that start up in the last six months of a taxable year. These changes are effective for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2005." (HB 461, Defeated: 38-Y; 60-N, 02/17/04, Hurt Voted Nay)

In 2004, Hurt Voted For The Omnibus Tax Bill Proposed By Mark Warner That Raised Virginia's Taxes. (HB 5018, Passed: 52-Y; 46-N, 04/13/04, Hurt Voted Yea)

In 2006, Hurt Voted To Increase The Fees In Order To Obtain A Hunting Permit In State Forests. "Increases the fees to obtain a hunting permit or a trapping permit in a state forest from $10 to $15." (HB 260, Passed: 89-Y; 9-N, 01/23/06, Hurt Voted Yea)

In 2006, Hurt Voted For A Bill That "Conforms The Amount Of Virginia Estate Tax Due From An Estate To The Maximum Amount Of The Federal Estate Tax Credit For State Estate Taxes..." (HB 40, Passed: 93-Y; 7-N, 02/02/06, Hurt Voted Yea)

In 2007, Hurt Voted For Tim Kaine's Unconstitutional Transportation Bill that Would Have Imposed Taxation Without Representation Through Unelected Regional Taxing Authorities. It Also Imposed A Diesel Tax Increase. (HB 3202, Passed: 64-Y; 34-N, Hurt Voted Yea)
Wow, them's fightin' words, and that's quite an impressive list. So Verga's beef with Hurt is that he helped Mark Warner balance the state budget and asked millionaires to pay their fair share, i.e. the estate tax. I'm curious as to how Mr. Verga expects to pay teachers, soldiers, sailors, cops and road workers if not with tax revenue.

If his campaign finance practices are any indication, then maybe he'll pay them out-of-pocket. Last week, CQ Politics reported that Laurence Verga has loaned himself nearly $227,000 since the end of December 2009. It's certainly his prerogative to do that, but it should offer some perspective on his campaign's claims about his fundraising prowess.

Two things are becoming very clear about this race: Verga is taking great pains to establish himself as the anti-Hurt, and Hurt is on the verge of pulling a Creigh Deeds and trying to run a front-porch campaign. I guess we'll see if there are enough Tea Partiers at the primary to torpedo Hurt's ambitions.

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