The Virginia Club for Growth filed complaints Monday with state officials about political mailings sent out by House of Delegates Democratic candidate Chris Brown.
The group wants an apology and a retraction from the Brown campaign mailers that say incumbent Del. Jeffery Frederick, R-52nd District, belongs to a group that advocates a sales tax increase.
Frederick also has taken strong exception and called the mailings “a joke.”
“Under no conceivable circumstances would the Virginia Club for Growth Political Action Committee or Delegate Frederick advocate a tax increase,” said Phil Rodokanakis, president of the Virginia Club for Growth, which filed the complaint with the state attorney general, the State Board of Elections and others.
“The Democrats know better; unfortunately, they will stop at nothing in misleading and deceiving the voters,” Rodokanakis said. “It’s mind-boggling.”
In recent weeks, the Democratic Party of Virginia has sent out two mailers on Brown’s behalf. The mailers state: “Jeff Frederick is an active member of an organization that supports a new 34 percent sales tax that would lead to higher taxes on everything.”
Brown counters that “I absolutely stand behind my position” information for which was taken from a page on the Virginia Club for Growth Web site that no longer exists.
Brown said at some point the page did exist and that it stated the PAC’s endorsement of Frederick. Rodokanakis confirmed that the page was a 2005 press release of the group’s endorsement of Frederick.
“My opponent has been very public about his membership to this group,” Brown said. “This group is certainly an organization that advocates the complete replacement of our federal tax code, to eliminate income taxes for persons and corporations. But, where is the money going to come from to provide the services to the people? What they are talking about is a national sales tax.”
Brown’s campaign points to a May 4 interview conducted by CBS News with Pat Toomey, president of the national Club for Growth organization as verification.
In the interview, Toomey is asked about “his view, or the club’s view,” of the optimal tax system.
“The optimal tax system, first of all, would be one with a very low rate and a very broad base. And one in which the government doesn’t pick winners and losers by providing all kinds of loopholes and deductions and credits and all kinds of gimmicks, as the current system does,” Toomey is quoted as saying on the CBS Web site. “So, a flat tax would be one way to achieve that. A national sales tax would be another way to achieve that.”
Toomey does not clarify in the interview if he is speaking for himself or the club.
Rodokanakis disputes Brown’s interpretation of the Virginia group’s stance on taxes.
“The Brown folks seem to think we are behind the ‘fair tax’ — the proposal to do away with income tax and replace it with a sales tax,” Rodokanakis said. “We’ve never advocated that, we’ve never been a part of that.”
“As far as I know, our national organization has never come out in favor of it,” Rodkanakis said.
According to its Web site, the Virginia Club for Growth is “dedicated to fighting for lower taxes, reduced regulatory burdens, controlled government spending and other policies that will expand overall economic growth and prosperity for the working people of Virginia.”
“If [the mailer] wasn’t something that was sent to the voters of the 52nd District as serious, it would be hilarious,” Frederick said. “The statement that I support a sale tax increase is patently false. It couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s like saying the Pope isn’t Catholic.
“People that know me think it is a joke, but new voters in our district may not know of my strong record in opposing any and all tax increases.”
“Unfortunately, there is not truth in advertising in politics,” Rodokanakis said. “You can say whatever the heck you want to say.”
But Rodokanakis said his group has filed its complaints to hold the Democrats in general and Brown in particular accountable.
The complaint urges four state officials to undertake an investigation of the state Democratic Party since it claims that the recent mailers are the second attempt by the party to misrepresent its policies.
In 2005, the PAC disputed attributions made to it in a political flier from Timothy M. Kaine’s campaign for governor.
The complaint was faxed to The Virginia Board of Elections, Prince William Commonwealth Attorney Paul Ebert, Richmond Commonwealth Attorney Michael Herring and state Attorney General Bob McDonnell.
Rodokanakis said the complaint was sent to all of the officials since they have overlapping jurisdiction in the state Campaign Finance Disclosure Act.
“We want a retraction,” Rodokanakis said. “We want an apology.”