Last Friday, the anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform, sent out a press release criticizing Republican Congressional candidate Beth Anne Rankin for not signing their Federal Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Today, Rankin disputed the criticism saying she signed their pledge in 2010 and her position has not changed.
“The voters in Arkansas have a right to know where a candidate stands on the issues before electing them to Congress,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform in their release. “It’s only logical to assume that if she won’t sign the Pledge then she has plans to raise taxes.”
“I applaud Tom Cotton for his dedication to the taxpayers of Arkansas,” continued Norquist in praising Rankin’s opponent for signing the pledge during this election cycle. “Taxpayers deserve to know that the men and women they elect to office will stand on their side against the special interests and tax hikes in Washington. I urge Rankin to join with Cotton in promising never to raise taxes on the voters of Arkansas.”
But Rankin fired back at Norquist in an interview on KARN on Monday questioning why they would attack a fellow conservative and someone who has been a steadfast supporter of reducing taxes.
“I did sign the pledge. I signed it in 2010,” said Rankin who ran unsuccessfully against Congressman Mike Ross that year. “There is not a more proven candidate with an anti-tax record in this race.”
Rankin’s campaign manager directed me to a question-and-answer section of the Federal Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which states – “A candidate only needs to take the pledge once. Candidates are always welcome to take the pledge each election cycle and show their continued support for taxpayers.”
Norquist disagreed with the campaign saying that this rule applies to incumbents, but ATR has never taken the pledge from an unsuccessful race. He said that Rankin’s campaign manager, Grant Wallace, specifically told ATR that Rankin did not plan to sign the pledge for this election cycle.
UPDATE – Wallace forwarded me the email he sent to ATR.
“Since she signed the Pledge last time she will not be signing it again. She remains committed to lowering taxes and simplifying the tax code for all Americans,” wrote Wallace on Friday in an email to Paul Blair with ATR.
In my opinion, ATR went to far in their press release. If Rankin signed the pledge in 2010 and has not changed her position, that should be good enough. These types of tatics are starting to backfire on Norquist giving them a bad reputation. A similar type deal happened with Rep. Alan West over in Florida.
‘I signed that thing in the desert of Afghanistan,’ West told Politico. ‘I got home and they wanted me to sign again during my campaign, and I wouldn’t, and Grover started yelling at my campaign manager. Grover is a nice guy, but I think he’s a little misguided.”