Friday, February 29, 2008

Colgan's response to criticism fails

I feel somewhat bad chastising our Senator Chuck Colgan, right after he stood up for one of his principles and voted with the Republicans to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.

But he has been rightly criticized for breaking two of his campaign promises, and his effort to "explain" his vote neither acknowledges his perfidy, or explains his actions.

Last year Colgan wrote a guest column for the Potomac News making the case for a gas tax. I, believing him to be honorable if misguided, actually wrote a column of my own where I agreed with him on the point. Which made me look like a fool when, just before his election, in a tight race, he denied ever supporting a gas tax increase and promised he would not increase gas taxes.

But when the gas tax came up in the Senate, he enthusiastically supported it. As he tries to describe his actions in today's letter, "Colgan responds to letter writer" (I've re-arranged his letter:

The writer claimed I voted recently for an increase in the gasoline tax.
The bill which I voted for would increase the gas tax one cent per gallon this year and each year for a total of five cents per gallon after five years.

In other words, the letter writer was correct. And what excuse does Colgan give?:

Since I voted for a bill which was going to reduce revenues by $65 million I thought it proper to try to replace that revenue with the slight increase in gasoline tax which will, in part, be paid by out-of-state drivers

In other words, he claims that the situation had somehow changed, that because he was not getting rid of the abusive driver fees, he HAD to vote for a gas tax.

But here's the problem with that explanation: Colgan was promising to get rid of the abusive driver fees in his campaign, at the same time he was promising NOT to support a gas tax. He KNEW we were going to lose the "$65 million", when he promised not to support a gas tax.

Oh, and that $65 million is a chimera as well -- the actual money raised was more in the order of a couple of million dollars, rather than the 65 million they had THOUGHT would be raised.

And we should not forget that originally, the abusive driver fees would have applied to out-of-state drivers. Colgan voted AGAINST that. But when Governor Kaine amended the fees to exempt out-of-state drivers, Colgan voted FOR the amended proposal.

Having acknowledged that the letter writer told the truth, Colgan still attacks the writer:

He failed to say that I also was one of seven co-sponsors of legislation, which abolished the hated abusive driver’s fines which were levied against drivers who violated certain traffic laws. Not only did that bill pass but it also contained provisions to reimburse those who paid these fines after July 1, 2007.

But a true accusation of the violation of one's promises does not obligate an accounting of other more honorable actions. That Colgan kept his easy promise to vote with EVERY other senator to right the wrong he committed last year by voting for the abusive driver fees does not excuse his violation of a promise not to raise the gasoline tax, a promise that now clearly seems to have been made with full knowledge that it was only to win an election.

Because unless Colgan is NOW lying about his "need" to raise the gasoline tax, he must have equally known of this need last October when he promised to end the abusive driver fees, AND still promised not to support a gasoline tax increase.

All that is left is for Colgan to try to explain what OTHER taxes he was intending to raise last October in order to replace the $65 million he KNEW he was going to vote to rescind. Because surely he must have known, since he promised not to raise the gas tax, that there would be some other tax that must be raised to, as he said, replace those tax dollars.

BTW, in this same letter Colgan equally fails to defend breaking his promise regarding illegal immigrants:

The writer claimed I voted for legislation which would allow illegal aliens to attend our colleges and universities and pay in-state tuition.

This is partly true.

Once again, the letter writer told the truth. But Colgan believes that the "conditions" of the legislation somehow excuses his betrayal of his constituents:

However, what his letter didn’t state are the conditions under which the so-called illegal student would be permitted to enroll.

The conditions are: If the student has been a resident of the United States for at least three years, if the student graduated from a Virginia high school, if at least one parent has filed a tax return during that past three years and if the student has initiated the process of becoming a citizen; it is better that he or she be educated. I voted for a similar bill during Governor Mark Warner’s term.

We KNEW he voted for this during Warner's term. In fact, that was the reason his opponent in the election was saying Colgan should be sent home -- because he supported in-state tuition for illegals. His opponent cited the bill in question, and said that Colgan would support it again.

Colgan, in response, said his opponent was lying and that he would not support in-state tuition for illegals. And now that he has gone back on his word, he admits that his opponent was absolutely right, and that his words of last October were hollow promises meant only to win him a few ill-gotten votes and possible an undeserved re-election.

Shame on Colgan for treating his constituents so foully.


Craig said...

Charles, while I don't agree with some of your political reasons for supporting/not supporting Colgan, I whole heartedly agree that Colgan is demonstrating incredible levels arrogance in this letter. When I read it this morning I was stunned by its utter lack of logic and the audacity it took to write. Shame on Colgan.

Anonymous said...

Colgan's defeat of the Homestead Exemption is appauling, and lacks integrity especially since he failed to represent the desires of his constituents and chose to play into the hands of big business interests who feared that it would lead to a bifurcated tax rate. Colgan should be ashamed of himself. Taking away a tax incentive from elderly homeowners at the expense of big business interests is disgraceful no matter what your political party. Don't be surprised to see him receive recognition from the VA Chamber of Commerce for that one.