We’ve seen this before. Fearful that taxpayers might reject a proposed tax increase or bond, the proponents of the measure will trot out some endorsement of a fake organization with a pro-taxpayer sounding name. It is a highly deceptive tactic meant to confuse voters.
Before this campaign season began, had anyone heard of the California Republican Taxpayers Association? We doubt it. But that is the name of the group appearing on millions of “slate mailers” and which is now running radio ads throughout the state supporting the costly $15 billion school bond measure ironically labeled as Proposition 13. Employing both the “taxpayer”and “Republican” label the group clearly hopes to appeal to more conservative voters.
The best we can tell is that CRTA was started by a political consultant working for the infamous anti-taxpayer Republican, Abel Maldonado. Not only was Maldonado notorious for voting against taxpayers when he was in the legislature, he successfully traded his state Senate vote, which was needed to pass a massive tax increase, in exchange for putting Proposition 14, the open primary law, on the ballot.
The consultant’s firm, Capitol Consulting & Public Relations, advertises on its website to potential clients that it can “manage your entire campaign from paid media: direct mail, radio and broadcast advertising.”
There’s certainly nothing illegal about that, but misrepresenting the source of the information can cross the line into legal problems. The CRTA reportedly heard from the Republican party after it used an elephant logo on these mailers to make it appear that the group was an official Republican organization. It’s not. Today its logo is a bear.
To be clear, a professional political consultant is a paid adviser to well-funded campaigns, not by any stretch of the imagination an advocate for the interests of taxpayers. Moreover, CRTA has no lobbyists, no attorneys representing taxpayers in legal fights, does no education efforts andits “location” is a UPS mailbox. It only materializes during election season. This purported group appears to be merely a “for sale” shill existing for the sole purpose of persuading, or deceiving, voters. (As for who “bought” CRTA, one need only consider that among the largest contributors to the Prop 13 bond campaign are the California Teachers Association, trade unions looking for construction business and the California Democratic Party. There’s nothing much “taxpayer” or “Republican” reflected in the money behind this bond measure).
It is now apparent that, because legitimate taxpayer groups such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association have opposed the massive Proposition 13 school bond, the special interests backing the costly proposal are attempting to counter our narrative. Unfortunately, their deceptive tactics may be working.
We received an email from a longtime member of HJTA who, after hearing our radio ad opposing this year’s Prop. 13, told us he had already mistakenly voted in favor of the costly bond measure. “I feel like a fool,” he wrote. No, he wasn’t a fool. He got scammed. Apparently, this is the only way the progressive tax and spend lobby can win.
Perhaps we at Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association take this too personally. We have worked for 41 years to establish an impeccable record of defending the interests of taxpayers and advocating for fiscal responsibility. We have two permanent offices in Sacramento and Los Angeles, three full-time lawyers who represent the interests of taxpayers in literally hundreds of tax cases against government, and a full-time lobbyist advancing the interests of taxpayers and defending the real Prop. 13 (1978) in the California Legislature.
It’s no secret that there is a lot of deception in politics. On Tuesday, voters who truly care about limiting increases in property taxes should listen to legitimate voices on behalf of taxpayers and vote NO on the Proposition 13 $15 billion bond measure.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.