State GOP using suspiciously edited tape to raise specter of state income tax

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 3:25pm

The Tennessee Republican Party is using an edited audio tape to raise the specter of Democrats pushing for a state income tax.

In a statement Tuesday, the TNGOP claimed that Flo Matheson, who is running against incumbent Rep. Cameron Sexton in House District 25, had “promoted the implementation of a progressive income tax and a living wage, and keeping in place the death tax.”

“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 state party chair Chris Devaney, who went on to ask if state House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh would denounce “this radical legislative agenda.”

At the candidate forum where the clip was recorded, however, Matheson said she expressed support for a progressive income tax at the national level but not in Tennessee, and that the complete quote makes that clear.

Informed of the TNGOP’s version of her remarks, Matheson said her remarks were about the federal income tax, not a plan to push for one on the state level. She sounded stunned that they had been presented in any other way.

“Oh dear heavens, you’re kidding me,” she said when reached by phone by The City Paper.

The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled three times that the state's constitution bans an income tax. Just last year, Republican state legislators were pushing an amendment to the state constitution that would reiterate that point. For a Democrat to express support for a state income tax on the campaign trail would be especially surprising, since the Democratic effort to institute such a tax a decade ago is commonly seen as the spark that led to the overwhelming majority Republicans currently enjoy. 

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.”

In response to a request for the full audio of the forum, Nickas said the audio included in the release was what the party had and reiterated that the party had not edited or cut the tape. Pressed further about the tape, which cuts Matheson off mid-sentence, he said he thought there was already enough context.

“There’s several minutes of audio,” he said. “I think we provided context that she was giving her campaign stump speech and she was talking about state legislative issues, which included her comments about instituting a living wage, talked about the death tax — the phasing out had overwhelming bipartisan support — and then she went on to mention the state income tax.”

In the tape, however, Matheson does not specify whether she is referring to a new state income tax or just the federal income tax. Asked, for the record, if she supported an income tax on the state level, Matheson responded bluntly.

“Of course not,” she said, “nobody does.”

PleasantHillSpeech.pdf51.82 KB

13 Comments on this post:

By: joe41 on 9/26/12 at 7:51

The GOP is getting desparate again.


By: bobyounts@comca... on 9/27/12 at 7:37

Everyone should be very wary of any information coming out of the Tennessee GOP. They are liars. How many of those guys would you trust with your families life savings?

By: Moonglow1 on 9/27/12 at 7:42

Moonglow1: The GOP, teocrates, idiots, socialist, fascists should all be "fired" from their jobs. Voters-vote democratic.

The Democratic Party is the Democratic Party not the Democrat Party as referred to by the Teocrates.

I am so sick of their (GOP) hatred and rhetoric. Stop it and work for a change. Why are you in government if you hate it so much. If you hate our government you should be jailed for treason.

GOP=God Awful Party

By: frodo on 9/27/12 at 8:27

So good to see the news media interested in shady campaigning. Now if someone would just turn that vigilance on a President who is increasingly unfamiliar with the truth.

By: frodo on 9/27/12 at 8:27

So good to see the news media interested in shady campaigning. Now if someone would just turn that vigilance on a President who is increasingly unfamiliar with the truth.

By: jonw on 9/27/12 at 8:29

I can dislike some of the Socialist programs being crammed down my throat WITHOUT committing treason. If you wish to silence everyone who disagrees with you, then you are close to treason. That is Not how our government works.
Do you mean theocrats instead of teocrts since that i not a recognized word.? By definition, the only governments controlled by theocrats are the Muslin countries.
As for Socialist you refer to - - - that is the trademark of big-time community organizers. - - to redistribute wealth via the government.
Your hero lived much of his early life as a Muslim where he was schooled in their principles, & then lived it as a community organizer where socialist redistribution of wealth was a corner stone. For years he sat at the feet of Jeremiah Wright & his famous words of "God Damn America."
Speaking of "hatred & rhetoric" why don't you tone it down?

By: GUARDIAN on 9/27/12 at 9:46

I am not nor have I ever been a republican but I haven't been a democrat in several years...I walked away from my Party of Jackson because communist were taking it over and they made me ashamed that I was ever a democrat...Andy would of cleaned his dueling pistols and called each and every evil lying bxxxxxx out...SAD...GOD SAVE AMERICA...GUARDIAN-GOD, COUNTRY, FAMILY and FRIENDS. The American Way.

By: pswindle on 9/27/12 at 9:47

Dirty tricks always happen when the GOP is losing. They will say or do anything without shame.

By: yogiman on 9/27/12 at 6:28

Are you confusing the GOP with the Democraps, pswindle? Sure sounds like it.

By: yogiman on 9/27/12 at 6:39


You can't blame Obama on his own. It was too well know he isn't Constitutionally eligible for that office. But Congress supported him on it. It was a well planed operation.

The question about his Constitutional eligibility was raised but the Electoral College voted him in office without affirming his Constitutional eligibility and the Senate approved their vote also without affirming his Constitutional eligibility.

Obama's literary agents advertised him as born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii for 16 years. Why did he claim to have been born in Hawaii in 2007 when he entered the race.

Why did congress never question him? He is a usurper and knows it. His "birth certificate" has been proven a fake from the word go.

Why has congress knot investigated him. He has made 923 Executive Orders in 31/5 years. When them out. The presidents since FDR has only passed 116 combined. Why hasn't congress looked into it.

He placed czars in office without approval of congress and they don't have to answer to congress, only Barry.

By: Badbob on 9/28/12 at 10:16

Republicans lying and misleading. How shocking!

By: Ask01 on 9/29/12 at 10:59

Perhaps they are concerned too many of their middle class drones are going to wake up, realize the GOP is responsible for the degradation of their quality of life, and vote Democrat, they have to resort to Nixon level trickery to scare the electorate.

I believe this is going to be a very bad year for Republicans, and while they maykeep a Neanderthal grip on Tennessee this election cycle, being the butt of jokes from other states and late night TV hosts might start a mass removal the next cycle.

Desperation is an ugly emotion.

By: govskeptic on 9/29/12 at 11:52

It's so laughable when any democrat speaks of helping the Middle Class.
The Republicans are those that help lift more and more to the Middle
Class to pay the load for a 100 sub-groups of non-working nor paying
Democrat voters. If the mentioned candidate in the story can win on
their own so be it, but BS stories such as this will be of no help.