Arizona GOP responds to Americans for Tax Reform

It has to be a difficult task to publicly respond when one of your friends and allies calls you out in front of everyone.  You want to be nice and treat a friend like a friend, yet at the same time a real friend wouldn’t have put you in this situation in the first place.  You can’t respond in anger but you shouldn’t let yourself be bullied either.  So we were fairly impressed with the response that the Arizona Republican Party sent to Grover Norquist at ATR.  Norquist had “written” to Randy Pullen at the AZGOP, which is to say that rather than actually communicating personally with Randy Pullen and talking about the issue, he and his group sent out a press release to the world taking a slap at the State Party.  Below is Pullen’s response:

Dear Mr. Norquist,
 
I am in receipt of your open letter, signed but not dated, and transmitted on June 4, 2009 by email. I will respond in kind. For the record, your letter is, at best inaccurate, and at its worst an attempt to defame and discredit our Republican Governor and me. In short your letter displays what is most often described as what is wrong with the conservative movement – an insatiable desire to eat its own.
 
You begin your letter by setting up a straw man. You state, “As you know, it has recently been announced that the firm High Ground Inc. (sp), a group that advises Governor Jan Brewer, will launch a $225,000 media campaign against legislators who oppose Gov. Brewer’s call for a multi-billion dollar tax increase in the middle of a recession.”  Well, there is no media campaign, and as I have stated numerous times over the past ten days to numerous reporters and legislators, I would not support such a campaign if it existed.  

I was indeed copied on the draft plan that was attached to your letter and which I have reattached to this response. On asking Mr. Coughlin about the draft plan, I was assured that there was no plan to target legislators and in fact there was no media campaign planned.  His letter presented a general approach on how to support the Governor’s proposed budget assuming that the legislature did not pass out a budget, all very speculative.
 
Asking me as chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, to unequivocally and publicly announce my opposition to and repudiation of this campaign to be waged by Gov. Brewer is like knocking the stuffing out of your straw man; therefore, I will respond hypothetically as follows:
 
If there were a media campaign (which there isn’t) targeting (unnamed) legislators who (may or may not) oppose Governor Brewer’s proposed budget, then I would be unequivocally opposed to such a plan (if it existed, which it doesn’t).
 
What is of more concern to me in your letter is your continued effort to misstate Republican principles with regard to spending and taxes. The Republican platform is quite succinct on taxes and government spending. I will quote from page 15 of the 2008 Republican Platform, “Spend only what is necessary, and tax only to raise revenue for essential government functions.”  It does not say anything about being in opposition to higher taxes or demanding that our elected officials sign a Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
 
What the platform does take considerable space to elaborate on are the wasteful spending and the inherently redundant and inefficiency of government. I quote from the Platform, “The entrenched culture of official Washington – an intrusive tax-and-spend liberalism – remains a formidable foe, but we will confront and ultimately defeat it.” What is key to the debate is the need for balance.  Cutting taxes without cutting spending can be just as detrimental as the liberal tax and spend mentality. Senator McCain had it right earlier this decade when he questioned the Bush tax cuts on the grounds that there were no corresponding spending cuts.  We were in essence borrowing from our children.
 
The Arizona Republican Party Platform passed in January 2008 is closely aligned with the national platform in stating, “The AZGOP believes reducing taxes not necessary to pay for essential government services creates jobs and economic growth, encourages new businesses to come to Arizona, and ultimately increases public sector revenues in our state.”  I have yet to see anything proposed by Governor Brewer to be in opposition to either the national or state platforms.
 
I applaud your mission at Americans for Tax Reform. We are in dire need of tax reform nationally as well as here in Arizona. What is even more critical though is a plan to control spending. Republicans are out of power nationally, because we were unable to rein in spending.  We spent eight years passing budgets that increased the national debt.  The 2008 Republican Platform recognizes this problem and is very clear about replacing current budgetary procedures with simplicity and transparency, balancing the budget and planning for long-term costs of pension and health care programs.  Unfortunately for us, this recognition came too late.
 
Warmest regards,

Randy Pullen
 


Comments

  1. If Bush (and Congressional Republicans) had cut spending while cutting taxes, Republicans would still be in charge in D.C. and our nation would have been spared our current nightmare.

  2. Where's The Campaign? says

    I’m a big Grover fan and usually follow his lead without question, but other than getting his group some press, I’m not sure what his letter was designed to accomplish. If he wanted to steer policy in Arizona, why didn’t he just pick up the phone or send a letter to Pullen directly? I’m also curious where is this big High Ground campaign that we keep hearing about? Is it happening? ‘Cause if its not, then what are we arguing about?

  3. Kudos to Pullen! Well done.

  4. Grumpy Gus says

    The media campaign is a side issue. The central issue is why the state GOP is supporting the tax hike. Pullen should just “agree to disagree” with Brewer. Sad thing is, she won’t care either way. He’s got no reason to support the tax hike. He’s not running for reelection. He doesn’t have to appease Democrats. He’s got the opportunity to be purely and simply a good GOP Chairman, but he’s turned his back on the party and gone off supporting the tax hike.

  5. Carl Hay says

    Excuse me but, Pullen tried to pass off a phony poll from Kenski and HighGround back in March of this year wherein Arizona voters where supposed to be supporting the tax increase that HighGround and Brewer support.

    Everybody in Arizona politics knows of the threatened campaign devised by Mr. Coughlin. Its be roundly laughed at by those on both sides of the aisle in the legislature.

    Pullen can continue to be loyal to Brewer, or to the people who elected him (and overwhelmingly oppose Brewer’s tax increase).

    Norquist called him on the matter.

    Pullen is merely dancing around the issue.

    I seem to recall a fictional Texas politician doing the same routine in a film staring Mr. Reyolds (and of course, Ms. Parton).

    Stop the dancing Mr. Pullen.

  6. I’ve seen lots of polls from everywhere on this issue, and they all magically seem to produce the results that the clients wanted. Still, Mr. Hay is the first person I’ve seen who has said that the poll itself was phony. That accusation causes me considerable heartburn because I can’t tell if Mr. Hay is saying that the poll itself was never conducted or if the numbers that were reported were faked? In either case its a serious charge and potentially devastating to the professional reputations of both the consulting firm and the pollsters.

    Charging for work you don’t do is likely a crime, so I assume Mr. Hay has evidence of this crime that he can provide to support his accusation?

  7. Oberserve says

    I can think of several non-essential governmental function that are part of Brewer’s budget proposal:

    1) “Enhanced” drivers license implementation. Non-essential.

    2) Digitazation of all birth and death records and interfacing them with the US Department of Homeland Security. Non-essential.

    3) “Fusion Centers” Non-essential.

    4) Transfers to cities used to offset expenses for putting cameras on all the intersections and replacing neighborhood street signs, and toward light rail. Non-esssential.

    5) Reengineering the 202 between the 51 and 143 interchanges. Non-essential.

    So, there are quite a few non-essential items that are being funded by Brewer’s proposed tax increases.

    Think Republicans are going to gain votes from this? Drink the kool aid.

  8. Bev, the way poll questions are asked can influence the answers that are received. Determining which parts of the poll results to release can shape the perception of the poll results. There really was a poll, but there is always a question as to whether the results are accurate or it was set up to produce a predetermined result to achieve a public relations objective.

  9. There is plenty to cut in the state budget. Jan Brewer has not proposed or implemented cuts on a scale comparable to what most private organizations in the state are doing. Are we to believe that government spending is more important than our own or that of private companies? Jan Brewer suggesting that we are undertaxed instead of that the government is overspending is an insult to all taxpayers and especially to Republicans who expect Republican elected officials to treat them with more respect.

  10. What makes people think that this letter wasn’t sent after many, many private conversations?

    That assumption is, I can assure you, wrong. Conversations have been going on for months.

  11. Just reported in the Yellow Sheet: Pullen was at the Coughlin Campaign meeting.

    Methinks his letter is not so truthful. This is how a state Republican Party is supposed to act:

    http://www.cagop.org/index.cfm/statement_682.htm

  12. Okay Patrick Gleason, I get that you are calling Chairman Pullen a liar (or as you might call it, a not so truthful person), but about what point is he lying? I re-read the letter to see if there was anything in there about a meeting at the Coughlin Campaign but I didn’t see anything. And what is Coughlin running for and what does the Coughlin Campaign have to do with Brewer and Norquist and a tax increase?

  13. Pullen states, “You begin your letter by setting up a straw man. You state, “As you know, it has recently been announced that the firm High Ground Inc. (sp), a group that advises Governor Jan Brewer, will launch a $225,000 media campaign against legislators who oppose Gov. Brewer’s call for a multi-billion dollar tax increase in the middle of a recession.” Well, there is no media campaign, and as I have stated numerous times over the past ten days to numerous reporters and legislators, I would not support such a campaign if it existed.”

    Gleason is referring to an article in Yellow Sheet that confirms he attended a High Ground Inc meeting where they decided against launching the Coughlin Campaign otherwise known as the media campaign attacking legislators who oppose Gov. Brewer’s call for a tax increase.

  14. Hi Adam: I’m sure Patrick appreciates your attempt to defend him, but your response doesn’t clear up Patrick’s accusation at all. Patrick says Pullen’s letter is a lie, and you quote Pullen as saying that there is no media campaign and that he wouldn’t support it if there was.

    Now, you claim that Pullen was at a meeting where the decision was made to NOT launch a campaign. If I believe you, then you’re clearing Pullen. But the reports I heard were that Pullen was at a meeting where a potential campaign was discussed and that no decision (for OR against) was made there. And the facts seem to bear out Pullen’s contention that there is no media campaign. None has occurred and a number of people from that meeting have all indicated (as has Pullen) that they would not support such a plan. More recently, word was released that no such plan would be executed.

    So Pullen’s letter holds up, your explanation that Pullen was at a meeting doesn’t contradict anything in his letter, and we’re still waiting for Patrick Gleason of Americans For Tax Reform to back up his statement that Pullen is a liar based on the content of his letter to Grover Norquist.

    Tick tock Patrick.

  15. Hey Bev,

    Thanks for responding. What is confusing you is the timing of the two letters. We sent ours on the 4th, when the HighGround/Build a Better Arizona Campaign was being organized. At that time Pullen had been silent on where he stood on the campaign. As such, we requested that he clarify.

    Fortunately, on the following Monday the campaign fell apart. This was great news but not surprising. During the weekend prior to his response, the Arizona News Service reported that financial support for the HighGround campaign was evaporating faster than water in the Arizona Desert. The hospitals, the Realtors and others publicly announced that they would not participate and fund.

    Only after this and our letter did he announce that he would not participate. While it was better late than never, it shouldn’t have taken all of that for a GOP chairman to denounce a campaign to target lawmakers who stand up for taxpayers. But again, better late than never and we were pleased.

    However, Bev, this doesn’t even address the 800 pound gorilla in the room and the only issue that matters here: Brewer’s proposed $3 billion tax hike and Pullen’s public support for it.

    This is Pullen’s real problem. Pullen has much to learn from his counterpart in California. Again, this is how a GOP chairman is supposed to act:
    http://www.cagop.org/index.cfm/statement_682.htm

  16. I’m not confused Patrick. You called Randy Pullen’s letter a lie. I would like to know why and what proof you have. Yet you continue to not back up your accusation. If you want to retract it, you’re welcome to do so. Lots of folks write comments in anger. But if you are standing by your claim, you should support it.

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