Elections

Smell test: Is ad’s claim that Marisa Peloquin backs income tax true?

A campaign mailer sent out by the Good Government Leadership Council says legislative hopeful Marisa Peloquin supports an income tax in Washington.
A campaign mailer sent out by the Good Government Leadership Council says legislative hopeful Marisa Peloquin supports an income tax in Washington. Courtesy

Republicans opposing Marisa Peloquin’s effort to unseat incumbent Sen. Steve O’Ban are claiming the Democrat supports implementing an income tax in Washington, a generally unpopular policy in the state.

Washington is one of a handful of states without an income tax, and a 2010 ballot measure to create one while reducing other taxes was voted down by more than 28 points statewide and crushed by nearly 40 points in Pierce County. A campaign mailer sent around Pierce County’s 28th Legislative District ties Peloquin to the controversial tax.

O’Ban, a Republican from Tacoma, is not responsible for the ad paid by the Good Government Leadership Council. But the council has received all its money this year from a political committee run by Senate Republicans, according to the latest information from the Public Disclosure Commission.

Peloquin spent close to 10 years in active duty for the U.S. Army and is now a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, she said.

The Claim

The campaign flier says voters “can’t afford Marisa Peloquin,” who has “taxing ambitions.”

It also carries a boldface header that declares Peloquin “supports an income tax.”

As evidence, the leaflet says Peloquin supports a 2015 Washington State Parent Teacher Alliance handout outlining the organization’s legislative priorities such as “progressive funding strategies” to “raise significant revenue.” Peloquin was a Pierce County region director for the PTA.

The campaign flier says the PTA handout is “trying to avoid the phrase income tax.”

The Facts

The PTA handout cited on the flier doesn’t say “income tax.” The leaflet says the PTA would like to raise money for education but it doesn’t define how that would be accomplished.

Peloquin said in a phone interview on Monday she didn’t attend the legislative assembly where the PTA legislative priorities were ratified. She also said she doesn’t support income tax.

“I absolutely do not,” she said. She added: “Right now we pay enough in property taxes, gas taxes, and it seems those who can least afford it are shouldering the tax burden.”

It’s true many Democrats in Washington over the years have argued for an income tax as a more progressive tax system. But Democrats have offered other alternatives to the state’s current system that is reliant on sales tax.

Peloquin said she supports efforts to end some tax loopholes in the state before creating new taxes. House Democrats unsuccessfully pushed to close several tax exemptions to raise state money last year. One measure would have repealed a sales-tax exemption for bottled water.

Peloquin said she’d have to review other tax systems — such as carbon cap-and-trade proposals — as they’re proposed before choosing if she would support them.

Stan Shore, Good Government Leadership Council executive director, said in an email that Peloquin and groups she associates with use phrases like “progressive funding strategies” as a euphemism for income tax because “they know an income tax is repellant to most voters in Washington.”

“The mailer made this clear,” he wrote.

Conclusion

False. The Good Government Leadership Council doesn’t cite an example of Peloquin explicitly supporting an income tax as a “progressive funding strategy,” and Peloquin says she doesn’t support an income tax.

Walker Orenstein: 360-786-1826, @walkerorenstein

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