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Government, Politics & Issues

Missouri group backing tax cuts launches video accusing governor of misleading the public

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: United for Missouri, one of the conservative groups backing the tax-cut bill, --HB253 -- vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon, is posting a new video today on various social media sites. The video asserts the governor has a track record of misleading the public.

Entitled  “Nixon’s Deceptions,“ the video cites controversies during Nixon’s administration, beginning with the 2009 flap over closing some state beaches because of E. coli bacteria.

The video also mentions the recent failed Mamtek manufacturing project in Moberly, Mo., and this year’s controversy over the state Department of Revenue’s scanning and retaining of personal documents, such as concealed-carry permits, when people apply for drivers licenses.

All of the incidents are characterized as examples of the governor misleading the public  or failing to know what his administration is doing. “He isn’t afraid to stretch the truth in doing so,” the group says in a statement accompanying the video.

Video to be circulated on social media

The video may be the first time that the groups seeking an override of the governor’s veto have directly attacked Nixon. It certainly signals heightened activity by the pro-override groups as they seek to persuade the Republican-led General Assembly to follow through when it meets next month for the annual veto session.

Carl Bearden, executive director of United for Missouri, said in an interview that the video is to be circulated on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Parts of it may eventually be included in a TV ad, he said.

His group is part of a coalition that includes Grow Missouri and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, which are conducting a TV ad campaign in favor of the override. The campaign is financed by wealthy businessman Rex Sinquefield.

Bearden denied that the video is an attack on Nixon’s integrity. But he acknowledged that the aim is to persuade the public to discount the governor’s assertions that the tax cuts will force cuts in state funding to public schools and other programs.

Conservative backers contend that tax cuts will spur economic growth that would make up for the short-term loss in state revenue. HB253 calls for cutting corporate taxes in half; it would make a smaller reduction in individual tax  rates.

“There’s nothing  in the ad that’s not factual,” Bearden said.  “He misled on these other things; people should question what he’s saying about the tax cut as well.”

Predicts House has votes to override

Bearden said that his camp is confident that Republicans have the necessary votes in the state legislature to override the veto. The key question has been whether backers have the needed 109 votes in the Missouri House.

Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, told the Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio that he was concerned that he didn’t have the votes. But Bearden maintained that Jones’ comments were aimed at energizing supporters and “trying to change the dynamic” by shifting attention away from the governor.

Nixon has been traveling the state for weeks defending his veto and emphasizing the cuts in state aid to public education and other state programs. He also has zeroed in on a provision of HB253 that would eliminate the state’s longstanding sales tax exemptions for prescription drugs and textbooks.

Nixon’s allies include many public school officials. Three fellow statewide Democrats -- U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, state Treasurer Clint Zweifel and Secretary of State Jason Kander – also have announced their support for Nixon’s action. 

A new political group aligned with the governor,  Missourians for Common Sense, also has begun sending out mailers and conducting robocalls in about 15 state House districts where they believe the GOP legislators may be persuaded to side with Nixon. That group is declining to identify its donors.

(Bearden's group, United for Missouri, also declines to identify its donors.)

In any case, Bearden discounted the impact of the new sales tax on prescription drugs, saying the public is more concerned about getting a tax cut.  A former legislator, Bearden noted that some Republicans have said they will act next session to restore the sales tax exemption.

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