Republican Arizona Governor's Tax Feud Continues to Split Her Party

Antitax crusader grudgingly acknowledges a point for Brewer's team. But this spat isn't over.

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By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer's effort to increases taxes in order to close the spending gap left by her Democratic predecessor has split the party down the middle. Those who defend her plan argue it is the only way to get the state back on its feet.

Enter Grover G. Norquist, of Americans for Tax Reform and the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which has been identified as the reason proposals to increase taxes have been defeated in legislatures all across America, most recently in California.

As has been discussed here earlier, Norquist recently wrote to Arizona GOP Chairman Randy Pullen and asked him to disavow a rumored media campaign to be waged by a firm with ties to Brewer against Republican legislators who opposed her plan.

Now Pullen has responded, calling Norquist's letter "at best inaccurate, and at its worst an attempt to defame and discredit our Republican Governor and me" while "setting up a straw man," the supposed media campaign that was the subject of the antitax activist's initial letter.

"Well, there is no media campaign," Pullen wrote, "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." Pullen goes on to dismiss the "draft plan" the antitax group had obtained as being "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," Pullen continued. "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)."

Which settles the issues of the media campaign, Norquist says, but not the larger issue of state GOP support for Brewer's $1 billion tax increase. "Randy Pullen stood next to the governor when she announced her tax hike. We asked him instead, to stand up for the anti-tax forces in Arizona and he has, thus far, refused to do so. He could have followed the example of the state GOP chairman in California, who publicly opposed his GOP governor's efforts to raise takes - and Arnold Schwarzenegger is a lot bigger than Jan Brewer - but instead he wants to be the only GOP chairman in the country, that I am aware of at least, who is supporting an effort to raise taxes."

This isn't over—not by a long shot.

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