Americans for Tax Reform was asked to clarify whether congressional candidates Debbie Lesko and Steve Montenegro violated their Taxpayer Protection Pledges to Arizona voters while in the state legislature.
The simple answer is yes.
When candidates or elected officials sign the state Taxpayer Protection Pledge to their constituents, they’re promising to oppose and vote against ANY and ALL efforts to increase taxes.
Debbie Lesko violated her promise to voters to oppose any efforts to increase taxes when she voted in 2010 to refer a $3 billion tax increase to the ballot. While she didn’t vote to raise taxes herself, she didn’t oppose that clear effort to raise taxes either.
Steve Montenegro’s case is similar in that he voted to create a mechanism through which El Mirage could levy an additional property tax. While the city never instituted the tax, Montenegro still failed to vote against that unsuccessful effort to raise taxes.
It is unusual for ATR to make an endorsement in a race, and we have not done so to date in the AZ-08 primary. While the difference in magnitude between the two measures above is worth noting, the Pledge is binary and for both of these two candidates the answer is yes. It is up to the candidates themselves to make the subsequent case about their own records to taxpayers. The voters will decide the degree to which a vote in violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, whether big or small (and whether ultimately resulting in a tax increase or not), affects their nomination choice.