Valley Patriot columnist and member of the Methuen School Committee, DJ Deeb wrote in his column this month that voters should choose Republican candidates in the upcoming state elections. Deeb listed a number of reasons to make his case, but is now issuing a public apology to Democrat State Representative Linda Dean Campbell for misrepresenting her vote on the Massachusetts sales tax. Deeb says he relied on bogus information from Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance (MFA).
MFA bills itself as a group set up to educate voters on the records of state legislators. They research each senator and representative and then feeds information to Republican candidates (even though they claim to be non-partisan) complete with a list of legislative votes and their take of what those votes mean.
These talking points get repeated by candidates and activists who do not do their own research.
“I spoke with Rep. Linda Dean Campbell on Wednesday night and discovered that the Mass. Fiscal Alliance had misrepresented her vote on the sales tax increase,” Republican activist DJ Deeb told the Valley Patriot last week. He also vowed to write a follow up correction in his next Valley Patriot column.
“I want to apologize to State Representative Linda Dean Campbell for incorrectly writing that she supported the Massachusetts sales tax increase from 5% to6.25% in my October Valley Patriot column. I spoke with Representative Campbell and told her that the information on her vote came from the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. That information was inaccurate and it should be noted that Rep. Campbell voted against the sales tax increase. What is fair is fair, and although I take issue with several of Rep. Campbell’s votes … I commend Rep. Campbell for opposing the sales tax increase.”
DECEPTION IN OTHER RACES
DJ Deeb isn’t the only one relying on MFA for research and information, nearly every Republican candidate in the Merrimack Valley is using MFA information to try and harpoon their Democrat rivals during debates and in mailings to voters’ homes.
Both Rosemary Smedile, a Republican candidate for State Rep. (North Andover) and Shaun Toohey, a Republican candidate for State Senate (Haverhill) cited information from MFA during a League of Women Voters Debate, claiming their Democrat opponents voted against lowering the sales tax to 5%.
“I brought a copy of my voting record, I will be happy to pass them out to anyone who wants to see the truth for themselves,” State Rep. Diana DiZoglio (D) said after being accused by Smedile of voting against lowering the sales tax.
“They are just lying,” DiZoglio said after the debate. “I wish someone would expose the actual votes we took. I voted to lower the sales tax to 5%. Anyone who says anything different is just not telling the truth, it’s very black and white,” she charged. “I voted to require photo ID on EBT-Welfare cards and I voted against raising the gas tax. I think anyone who knows me and knows what I stand for knows how I vote.”
Sate Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives took a more nuanced approach to the issue telling the Valley Patriot that Toohey’s claim she voted against lowering the gas tax and sales tax were “incorrect”, adding that she prefers to talk about her actual record in the senate “without the distortions of third party, special interest groups,” obviously referring to MFA.
THE SALES TAX VOTES
There were two votes in the legislature regarding lowering the sales tax to 5%.
Republicans in the State Legislature introduced a measure to lower both the sales and income at the same time. A “yes” vote would have lowered both sales and income tax to 5%. A “no” vote would have left the sales and income tax at their current rates.
While it is true that Representatives DiZoglio, Garry and Campbell (among others) voted against this bill, their “no” vote does not tell the entire story.
After the vote to lower both taxes at the same time failed in the legislature, a separate bill was introduced to lower the sales tax to 5% as a stand-alone bill without the income tax being included. On that bill, Representatives DiZoglio, Campbell, and Garry all voted “YES” to lower the sales tax to 5%.
“If they want to criticize me on something I actually voted for or against I have no problem with that. That’s fair game, we can have a conversation on those issues and the voters can decide for themselves. But, when the record is distorted by half truths, that is just disrespectful to the voters who deserve the truth about where everybody stands.”
DID DEMS VOTE AGAINST GIVING PREFERENCE TO VETS ?
Another claim against DiZoglio and other democrats by MFA was that they opposed giving preference to veterans over illegal aliens when applying for public housing.
“Rosemary Smedile and MFA are sending out mailings saying I voted against giving preference to veterans over illegal aliens for public housing. That is just false. I took a vote to require social security numbers for anyone looking to obtain public housing. That basically excludes illegals from getting public housing. That was the only up or down vote that ever came before us.”
DiZoglio says that there was a vote at one point to take up an amendment that was out of order. She says she voted against taking it up until it could be properly filed.
“But, they never brought that back for a real vote following the proper procedure. The only up or down vote that was ever offered regarding that issue was to require social security numbers for public housing and I voted yes.”
DEMCORATS DECEIVE ON TAXES, BALLOT QUESTIONS
Neither Democrats nor Republicans have a monopoly on lying to get elected this year. Democrat leaders on Beacon Hill are lobbying voters to oppose Question #1 which would repeal the automatic gas tax increases voted on by the legislature last year.
Democratic Party leaders on Beacon Hill say that the gas tax is “indexed to inflation” and will increase as inflation increases. What they are not telling the public is that if inflation goes down the gas tax will not go down, meaning it really isn’t indexed to inflation it will perpetually increase.
VOTING AGAINST RAISING THE GAS TAX
Another charge by MFA and the Republicans they support is that area Democrats voted to raise the gas tax.
“I voted against indexing the gas tax to inflation,” Says State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-Newburyport). “I voted against raising the gas tax every single time it came up,” she added.
Representatives DiZoglio and Garry say they also voted against raising the gas tax but that Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance and their Republican opponents are misleading voters on that issue too.
Roll call votes obtained by The Valley Patriot show DiZoglio, Ives, Garry and others did, in fact, vote against raising the gas tax and indexing it to inflation.
While MFA and Republicans admit the record shows that these democrats voted against raising the gas tax, they say that by overriding the governor’s veto of the transportation bill they effectively allowed the gas tax to move forward and become law despite their previous votes.
“I voted to override the governor’s veto because he had the votes to raise the gas tax even more, he wasn’t happy because he thought the gas tax should be higher” Senator Ives says.
“So, while I voted against raising the gas tax and indexing it to inflation, at the end of the day that measure passed without my vote. And if we hadn’t voted to override the governor’s veto that gas tax would have ended up even higher. If that is what the republicans really wanted that is on them,” DiZoglio concluded.