In an op-ed to the Daily Caller, ATR’s Paul Blair describes a troubling new phenomenon – Republican lawmakers targeting conservative groups for speaking out against tax hikes. Several Georgia Republicans including Gov. Nathan Deal, Speaker David Ralston, and House Transportation Committee Chair Jay Roberts have proposed raising the gas tax to fund their pet projects.

In order to push their proposals down the throat of Georgia Taxpayers, elected officials have attacked conservative groups that have spoken out. As the op-ed explains, ATR released a blog post criticizing this proposal for violating the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written commitment that many Georgia legislators made to their constituents:

“As we regularly do, and in the course of exercising our First Amendment rights, we explained in a blog post on our website that raising the gas tax was in fact a tax hike in violation of the Pledge, which many legislators in Georgia have signed.

However, Speaker Ralston and his allies moved to quickly threaten anyone who spoke out against the demand that taxpayers hand over more of their hard earned income to out-of-touch politicians. As Paul Blair explains:

“Soon after, we received an email, fax, and overnighted letter by one of the founders of GeorgiaLink Public Affairs Group, accusing us of violating the law. We did not release this letter. The following day, however, the Speaker of the House accused us of illegally lobbying in Georgia. It is reasonable to assume the lobbyist and Speaker had discussed this tactic.”

Perhaps most concerning, this tactic is straight out of the liberal play book:

“This is how the left operates. When their message and policy proposals fail, they employ scare tactics to bully opponents of their big government agenda.”

Georgia Republicans need to realize that they are accountable to taxpayers, and that using the left’s strategy to stifle speech will not work. As Paul Blair explains:

“Taxpayers will not be silenced or threatened into submission. Tax hikes are what politicians do instead of reforming government. It is sad and unfortunate that some Republicans in Georgia are employing the tactics of left to use the government to stifle speech. They will not succeed.”