Chuck Coughlin Responds

Editors Note: Sometimes I wake up and find myself caught between opposing conservative views with this blog and ask myself “why?”

In response to an earlier piece, entitled, “OUTRAGE! Reason for Governor Brewer’s tax increase is to reward lobbyist/employee Chuck Coughlin I thought it was necessary, appropriate and equitable to allow Chuck Coughlin to respond to the charge that he or his consulting firm, HighGround, would benefit in any way from an effort to pass a tax hike here in the State of Arizona. Chuck was more than willing to respond and attempt to set the record straight.

Those who read the posts on Sonoran Alliance should know that there are several writers who frequently and infrequently post their opinions on the blog. With the exception of myself, these writers do not know the identity of each other. That means that we don’t always agree with what is written. Yes, we are not all in lock-step with one another on every issue. In essence, there is diversity amongst our writers and that means we should respect each other’s right to express our own opinions.

With that said, here is Mr. Coughlin’s response:

I’m very flattered that Mr. Shofir would consider me such an influential person.  The truth of the matter, as is always the case, is a bit more complicated, particularly to people who see the world in absolutes. 

For the record I do not nor have I ever worked in a government role for Governor or Secretary Brewer.  I have managed all of her campaigns since she left the Legislature. I admire her greatly, her honesty, integrity and most of all her heart.  She is as real a regular down to earth person as Governor Napolitano was aloof, unattached and career minded.  

To be abundantly clear the proposals the Governor has articulated are hers.  So let’s set the record straight:

  • Governor Napolitano and her supporters at the Legislature grew government to clearly unsustainable levels (45%) over the past three years. There is no question that the Legislature and the Governor must cut over a billion dollars in state spending between this years and next year’s State budget. If that is done, Governor Brewer will have cut more State government spending than any Governor in the history of Arizona.
  • The current rate of growth for State Government is not sustainable. We, yes I consider myself a conservative Republican, must be focused on developing tools to slow the overall rate of government growth. Constitutionally reforming the rainy day fund to require up to 20% of funds be put aside annually coupled with reforms to limit access to these funds could serve as a significant braking mechanism on future government spending. County and municipal governments have spending control mechanisms, it is time we placed a spending control mechanism on future state spending growth.

  • Some Republican’s fascination with a temporary tax reminds me of the public fascination with the murder of Jon Benet Ramsey. They still haven’t caught the killer but we still talk about the case. Rather than focus on the temporary tax increase (death to hard core Republicans), folks should be concerned with controlling the rate of growth in government spending. That is the real killer. So in short, just don’t read the headline, focus on the real story.
  • Arizona’s tax structure is obsolete and outdated. The business property taxes and corporate income taxes in Arizona are an impediment to capital formation. We should be focused on plans to bring those rates down over the long term and to begin to recruit California companies that will be fleeing a high tax state.
  • Republicans now control all the branches of State Government. We must demonstrate an ability to govern. In a recent survey done by Phd. Margret Kenski (clients incl: Kyl, McCain, Hayworth, Bee, Shadegg, Symington etc…) cuts to kindergarten through 12th grade education programs were unacceptable to 75% of the electorate, including 64% of the Republican’s. Over 41% of the State Budget supports K-12 education. The Same survey found that cuts to the colleges and University Systems were unacceptable to 50% of the overall electorate, including 35% of the Republicans, and cuts to public health care programs serving the poor were unacceptable to 54% of the electorate (40% unacceptable to Republicans). These program alone account for over 60% of the state budget available to be cut, the other 40% is voter protected by Prop 105. All of these programs will have to be cut or reformed in some manner – see point number one.

  • If Republicans intend to stay in the majority at the Arizona Legislature, we must not cut programs to the point where voters will no longer have confidence in our ability to lead. Until the economy recovers we must find temporary ways to bridge the gap so that Arizona can continue to offer the essential public services that its citizens rely upon.
  • After cutting a billion dollars, creating a braking mechanism on future state government spending and thoughtfully applying all of the Federal stimulus dollars. If there remains a budget deficit of a $500 million or more in 2010, 11 and or 12, I believe Arizona voters would support a constitutionally limited 2-3 year, dedicated 1% increase in State Sales tax to support core government services (K-12, Higher Ed, Health Care for the poor and public safety).

For the record, my firm resigned from the Time Coalition prior to the signature gathering phase because I did not have confidence in the overall program being proposed by Governor Napolitano.

I entered the public affairs business over 25 years ago, not to make money but to pursue good ideas, support good government, and to be vigilant about the abuse of government power and authority.  I have worked for then Congressman John McCain, Attorney General Grant Woods,  Governor Fife Symington, State Senator’s Bob Burns, Russell Pearce and John Nelson to name a few.   I consider all of them to be my dear friends today. And no, we don’t always agree.

God has been very good to me, my family and to the many people who work with me here at Highground.  I trust if I keep trying to follow the path and values outlined above I will continue to be fine.

Again, thanks for the flattery, but seriously if Mr. Shofir or anyone else wants to talk I’m available.  Call me anytime at the office, it’s always good to have a reasonable, thoughtful discussion.  Come visit us at the Highground any time you would like. But let’s try to knock off the personal attacks, and let’s talk about ideas.

All the best, Vote Republican!




  1. So he doesn’t deny he is behind just says it is more complicated than that and we should not look at things as black and white… This sounds like something you say when you don’t want to out right lie but aren’t going to tell the the truth either, so he just basically ignores the comment.

    It just sounds like he is reiterating the same talking points as the governor maybe he knows them so well because he wrote them for her.

  2. Perhaps he is just realistic in stating that there is a problem. He is not an economist, but the Governor has people who are, and I would bet that they have all heard the same bad news.

    I seriously doubt Mr. Coughlin would be gaining by the state raising taxes.

  3. It looks to me like he was pretty clear in his response.
    “For the record I do not nor have I ever worked in a government role for Governor or Secretary Brewer. I have managed all of her campaigns since she left the Legislature…
    To be abundantly clear the proposals the Governor has articulated are hers. So let’s set the record straight”

    The previous post was more of Shofir’s usual worthless crap.

  4. Johnny, how much clearer could he be?

    “To be abundantly clear the proposals the Governor has articulated are hers.”

    It sounds like he supports her position, but he certainly is not running the show.

  5. No one is going to come out and say Yes these are my policies the Governor is following, how dense do you have to be to except that. Yes the Govenor’s policies are her own in the same way that most of Obama’s speeches are his own, they are presented by him he stands behind them but he did not come up with it, the same way the Governor did not come up with this

  6. That’s not what his post claimed. He claimed this was all concocted to “subsidize his business.” If he would have said, who is the brainchild behind Governor’s plan you wouldn’t have had a response. Instead you got the title you did and Shofir basically claiming every legislator down there somehow buys into this conspiracy theory.
    At the end of the day, Brewer is the Governor and puts her name on this. As someone who has help an elected position for as long as she has, I’m pretty sure she can think for herself.
    To compare her to an empty suit Community Organizer is a little disingenuous.

  7. SonoranSam says

    Brewer and Coughlin are both looking for solutions.

    Chuck said that if the Legislature followed her suggestion by cutting $1 billion, rounding up #$1 billion in stimulus money THAT WE’RE ALL GONNA PAY FOR ANYWAY – the Guv wants to raise the remaining $1 billion with a TEMPORARY tax increase, one that presumably would have anautomatic expiration date and a mechanism to keep it from becoming permanent.

    He also points out that a poll by Margaret Kenski, a highly respected R who has done work for a lot of winning pols, says 75 of voeters – including 64 percent of Rs – would oppose deep education cuts.

    This is why I’m an independent. the Ds are thoroughly screwed up, and you Kool-Aid drinkers sure as heck aren’t opening up the tent to anyone who doesn’t think Goldwater was a flaming leftie.


  8. Auntiefederalist says

    “there is diversity amongst our writers and that means we should respect each other’s right to express our own opinions.”

    A lie is not an opinion. “Chewie” doesn’t post opinions; he/she/it posts lies.

    Add me to the growing chorus of loyal readers decrying the manner in which you allow this person and his/her agenda to degrade the credibility of this blog.

  9. Can't Recall My Clever Pseudonym says

    I can’t get past the part about how we need to cut spending AND raise taxes. And the spending we’re cutting is because Napolitano et al increased it. Okay so far. But the tax increases? Had Napolitano et al cut taxes and you want to reverse that, okay as well. But it’s not the case.

    Coughlin, and many others, are not pure theorists but practicians. Nothing is done in a political vacuum. So these academic-seeming exercises are actually designed to serve another purpose: convince voters, potential opponents, and writers on this blog that it’s all about the good of the state. In fact, it’s about the good of Jan Brewer.

  10. All about the good of Jan Brewer? I’ve heard that now a few times but struggle to understand the reasoning. How does proposing something as volitile as a tax increase “help” Brewer? From what I understand part of these cuts include popular programs like all day K. I’m by no means a proponent of taxes but I’m realistic given most of the budget is hands off so cut options are very limited.

  11. Can't Recall My Clever Pseudonym says

    If she doesn’t cut enough spending, and manages to raise taxes, she stands a better chance against a D challenger. The risk, which she is taking, is that another R, an anti-tax one, will beat her in the primary. So she’s doing what’s right for her political career, and sacrificing her credentials as a Republican.

    Don’t take my word for it, take a look at the R that will challenge her in the primary. She should hope it’s many, but it will only be one.

  12. Coughlin says he resigned from TIME because he didn’t agree. What really changed? It was always a $40 billion tax hike. Sounds like he got fired and Napolitano put her own cronies in. He needs to come up with something better than that.

    But really it is besides the point he is clearly the top advisor to the governor, and the only thing that is important is that she has proposed a massive tax hike.

    2010 will be great with McCain and Brewer at the top of the ticket. I think i will just stay home.

  13. How can you be “Conservative 2 the Core” and possibly say you’re just going to stay home. The realities of the budget are that you can’t just cut your way to a solution. They’ve even admitted they still can’t plug a $500M hole for next year and have done every cut they can.
    On top of that, you have ideas like borrowing against the lottery!! Didn’t we hang Nappy out to dry for suggesting that? Now WE’RE considering it?

  14. An associate of mine worked on TIME and can attest that Highground quit over many differences, including the size of the proposal, what was included, and the overall goal of the proposal.

  15. It strikes me as hilarious, in a what are you going to do but laugh sort of way, that after the Napolitano years we get a Republican Governor and she is the victim of a repeated hit and run by a driver…who apparently is driving under the influence of something beyond common sense or any sense at all. Hey Chewie, take a break.

    The deficit is real and it is huge. The ramrod budget of the years past has given us years of struggling to maintain solvency in our fair state. There is no way to cut spending enough to absorb the shortage, year after year. The cuts would be so deep as to decimate jobs, communities, and any hope of educational excellence. Do not even start with the charter, voucher line. The resources are not there to do the job.

    It is about time the elected leaders of this state step up and do the job that is needed. Enough of the grandstanding and headline grabbing; the ridiculous actions over Science Foundation Arizona has already put the future of this state in a very precarious situation. High profile, revenue producing contracts are in danger of pulling out of Arizona and the list is growing daily. The numbers of new ventures that reconsidered coming into a state that has proven contracts mean nothing has cost us future opportunity. Funny how “conservatives” bemoan the Obama crew when they pulled a switcheroo on legally binding contracts… so how is what happened to Science Foundation Arizona any different? In fact, it is worse!

    There is more to reality than a quick headline or flashy blog post. This is the real deal folks and until we all catch on, we can forget any hope of holding on to the 9th floor and the legislature will slip away, too.

  16. Wow, Ann is back and in a big way. Funny how $20 million of cut pork has placed the entire state of Arizona in “a very precarious situation.” What bunk. It was only a few days later that Intel announced they would spend BILLIONS on a new plant here in the Valley. Give it a rest all you Chicken Littles. The conservatives who said “no mas!” to Science Arizona lard aren’t “worse than Obama”, they’re heroes.

    That Ann disagrees tells us much about her core values.

  17. Republicans hold all branches of state government? Did Coughlin forget there are more than two? McGreggor ain’t gone yet, you know.
    A statement like that make it really hard to lend credibility to the rest of them. I could understand if this was a verbal slip up, but writing a press release takes time and consious effort. One would hope, anyways.

  18. Tim, I’m so surprised you would decide to make this personal rather than keep it to the subject. What was that you said about core values?

    The size of the amount, $20m, is not the point, there were contracts involved. Is it OK to abort a baby that is only a few weeks old rather than right up to the 20 week mark? Situational ethics. Strong core values say it is never right to do the wrong thing when there is a choice to do better.

    The ripples in the water are pretty wide on this one. What you missed by making it about me rather than about the issue is that decisions cannot be made in a vacuum. The inevitability of a course of action that would remedy this lesser of two evils type of choice needs to be made with a full understanding and acceptance of the repercussions, good and bad.

    Decision must be looked at for their value and their possible down side before the headline or promotional value.

    L’État, c’est moi is no way to govern, even if in a small way or for future political play.

  19. My favorite thing about this and all of Chewie Shofir’s error dripping posts is that he/she never responds back. Talk about “drive-by media”…

  20. Klute- you will see that Chewie never responds. Just throws out his crap and moves on to the next one.

    Confused- McGreggor isn’t elected. Clearly in the context of his statement, “We must demonstrate an ability to govern,” he was referring to the Legislature and Executive policy makers.

  21. Riddle me this says

    So what exactly is “enough cuts?” Is it going to be enough that Brewer is going to cut more than any other Governor in Arizona history?

    Wake up, guys! We can’t cut our way out of this problem.

  22. @2
    The problem is the plan to spend more money than tax revenue is present to pay. The question is: Which plan should be pursued to remedy the problem, reducing spending or increasing taxes?

    Governor Brewer is responsible for advocating an increase in the sales tax regardless of who cooked up the idea in the first place. This applies just as much to the state legislators. It matters not that “the voters” might pass a sales tax increase. The question is, who helped make such a sales tax increase possible?

    The only proven method by which to prevent temporary taxes from becoming permanent is to prevent their adoption in the first place. Do a search on Milton Friedman and income tax withholding to see just one fine example of how un-temporary temporary tax measures are.

    If Mr. Shofir is actually lying then you should be able to point that out. The fact that you don’t would lead me to believe that the gist of your real objection isn’t the inaccuracy of his post but the truthfulness of it.

    I’m with you Mr. or Ms. Can’t Recall My Clever Pseudonym. I have for some time thought that the Brewer administration plan to refer a sales tax increase is a method by which to blunt the liberal MSM from making Jan Brewer into Mrs. No (the equivalent of Ron Paul being called Dr. No). If a referred sales tax increase passes then some percentage of the liberal media will hold back slightly (very slightly) in their biased attacks come 2010. If a referred sales tax increase fails then she can cut programs while being able to deflect liberal critiques by saying that she tried to get high taxes but it wasn’t politically practical. The problem with this tactic is that in the end Brewer will become the local equivalent to John McCain, only proposing those ideas that Coughlin’s survey panels find acceptable.

    I think in the end her pro-tax increase position will motivate someone to run against her (and win) in the primary and then it will be tax loving media (closet socialists) and their favorite candidate vs the pocketbooks of the taxpayers.

    Dependence on excessive spending caused by a ramrod budget is the problem.

    On the topic of the Science Foundation Arizona and private contracts with private businesses: If you rely upon government (or organizations dependend upon government) to provide payment for contracts and you don’t think that the vicissitudes of government tax revenues only blow in favor of payment you are living in a world that doesn’t exist. Not learning that lesson is not an option.

    Good call.

    You are incorrect. Budgets can be cut.

    Refusing to face that possibility is a mirror opposite image position to Brewer’s claim that the state government can’t refuse to consider increasing taxes.

    These two claims, one that spending *must* be reduced and the other than taxes *must* be increased are really namby-pamby framing efforts that would be better addressed by asking and honestly debating the real question: Which should be the primary method used to balance the budget, increasing taxes or reducing spending?

  23. Veritas Vincit says

    Chuck: I admire you completely, but we have to agree to disagree on this one my friend.

    Any economist worth their salt (the Goldwater Institute springs to mind), will tell you ‘You can’t tax your way into prosperity.’ See its like this; trying to fix the leak in a boat by bailing buckets of water INTO THE BOAT. Can’t happen.

    The problem with a *temporary* tax hike is the same as a drug addict getting a *temporary* meth fix. They’ll look for the next one and lie and tell you every reason in the world why it’ll be their last one!

    Which reminds me of DES …

    The Arizona government is addicted to spending. For starters I would fire the top 5 employees of DES starting with the Director for that stunt they pulled with the childcare scare.

    This is so typical of governments addicted to spending: using ECONOMIC STIMULUS FUNDS to subsidize childcare for folks earning upwards of $39,000/year… and imagine the gall of DES to claim that IF these folks didn’t continue receiving that subsidy, they would quit their jobs and the state’s unemployment would increase!! Imagine the state using *economic stimulus* money to pay for babysitting services!!

    I expect a load of you know what like that from Nancy Pelosi!

    Hey, here’s an idea: Trim the salary and benefits of everyone in DES between senior supervisors and the lowest levels of senior management – you know, the soft middle belly of the beast? I’ll bet you can find $18 million in there … and what about the ancillary administrative expenses that attend those mid-managers? $18 million would be easy to find.

    Why is is that the senior government employees always manage to find a way to use the customers of their services and the line employees against the Governor and Legislature to achieve their outrageous spending habits?

    Tough times call for tough decisions. Calling for a tax increase (no, it will NOT be temporary, we already established that), and then using the voters as the scapegoat isn’t exactly true leadership quality is it?

    I love Jan dearly, but someone is feeding her garbage for advice and unfortunately she’s trusting them. I suppose when the tax increase fails we’ll hear someone say: “The voters made me do it.”

    Chuck, have you been that close to the fire for so long that you’ve begun to see it the way long term incumbents do and not as the voters see things? Right now everyone is reducing spending … how about Arizona too?

  24. Circular firing squad.


  1. […] responded to Chewi with a rational, calm and well written explanation.  He laid out, in a systematic way, […]

Leave a Reply