State House candidate Flo Matheson says she “almost fainted” when first hearing that the Tennessee Republican Party had accused her of supporting a state income tax, but now she believes the GOP news release — though wrong — is helping her campaign.
The state GOP earlier this week sent media a news release on Democrat Matheson’s remarks at a candidate forum with her opponent, state Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville.
It quotes state Republican Chairman Chris Devaney as saying the comments left him wondering whether the state Democratic Party has encouraged its candidates to “adopt this extremist, big government agenda which would amount to some of the largest tax increases in our state’s history.”
The release was accompanied by an audio recording that, as first reported by The City Paper, stops just after Matheson says she supports “a progressive income tax.”
Matheson said her next words were to say she was referring to the federal income tax and made the point that, though state legislators have no impact on federal taxes, voters should be wary of candidates who want to favor the “extremely wealthy” in tax policy.
The City Paper reports that an audio tape of Democratic House candidate Flo Matheson’s remarks at a forum were edited – or at least cut short – so she would seem to be supporting a state income tax. Actually, Matheson says she was not – she was supporting the federal “progressive income tax.”
The Matheson comments formed the basis of a state Republican party news release. (Previous post HERE.)
From Stephen Hale’s story:
TNGOP Executive Director Adam Nickas told The City Paper that the state party did not cut or edit “in any way” the audio provided to them, but would not reveal where the audio came from.
The release, which does not identify Matheson by name, included an eight-minute audio recording of some of Matheson’s remarks at the Monday morning candidates forum in the East Tennessee district. In the tape, Matheson can be heard expressing support for a living wage, and opposition to the repeal of the estate tax. Her remarks about an income tax, however, begin with less than 10 seconds left in the tape and are quickly cut off.
“Also, I support a progressive income tax, which would mean, you know, more taxes on the wealthy. I do know that fe… ,” she can be heard saying, at which point the tape ends.
Forum organizers told The City Paper they did not have an official video or audio recording of the event. But a copy of Matheson’s prepared remarks, provided by Matheson, seems to provide the rest of the sentence cut off by the TNGOP audio.
“Support a progressive income tax,” her notes read. “Federal Income tax is not an issue that state representatives can resolve, but I can urge voters to remove legislators who work for the greedy super-rich, not for the middle class.”
Her opponent, Sexton, said he understood her comments differently.
“That’s not how I understood it,” he told The City Paper Wednesday morning, “because even later in the forum, I told her when we had a question, ‘You know, I’m not like Flo, I’m not in favor of a state income tax.’ She never came back and denied that she was.”
Sexton said he didn’t have anything to do with the tape.
“Maybe she went back now and she realizes, maybe she wasn’t clear enough and she wants to restate for the record, which is fine, if she wants to come out against a state income tax. But you still have the main issue that she wants a state living wage.”
Nickas said he believed the audio provided in the TNGOP release included “the majority of her comments.”
“I think it’s pretty clear that she was talking about state issues,” he said. “I know that she and probably the Democrat party are probably in damage control mode right now, trying to spin it, but I think it’s pretty simple what she said.”
News release from Tennessee Republican party:
NASHVILLE, TN – At a candidate forum on Monday, the Democrat nominee for State House in District 25 promoted the implementation of a progressive income tax and a living wage, and keeping in place the death tax.
The comments came from the Democrat nominee in District 25 at a Pleasant Hill, TN forum. (Note: She is Flo Matheson, who is opposing Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville.)
“Tennesseans have to wonder if the Tennessee Democrat Party has encouraged their candidates to adopt this extremist, big government agenda which would amount to some of the largest tax increases in our state’s history,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney.
“While many Democrats in our state desperately attempt to disassociate themselves with the failed economic policies of Barack Obama, it appears the President’s big government philosophy has taken solid root within the Tennessee Democrat platform. Are these the far-left ideological policies that Democrat House Leader Craig Fitzhugh wants his party’s nominees to unite around? Will Craig Fitzhugh denounce this radical legislative agenda or will he remain silent?
“Tennessee Republicans, working with Governor Haslam, have made tremendous progress in reducing the size of government by eliminating unnecessary regulations and enacting more tax cuts in this year’s budget than any other in our state’s history. That’s the path we need to stay on; not return to the path of more taxes, more debt, and massive government,” concluded Devaney.
Audio of the comments made by the Democrat nominee in State House District 25 can be heard HERE.
— Email in response to the release from Brandon Puttbrese, communications director of Tennessee Democratic party:
As we all know, the most recent state income tax plan was carried by a Republican governor of this great state.
This is another pathetic attempt by Republicans to hide the fact that their top-down tax policies reward the wealthiest Tennesseans and shift a greater tax burden onto working and middle class families.
Their policies are a global race to the bottom for American workers. In Tennessee, pay is down and poverty is up. Confidence in the special interest-dominated legislature is falling and the unemployment rate is on the rise. That’s the GOP’s legacy.
And while Ms. Matheson’s ideas might not be a perfect solution to increase pay for working people, Tennesseans are not going to fault her for having a discussion about ideas that reward responsible, hard working families.
We’ve seen too much focus on top-down, multi-million dollar tax giveaways for the wealthy and well connected. It’s time middle class Tennesseans got a fair hearing in the legislature, too.