I really hate it when self-professed staunch conservatives go wobbly on the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, especially since it's not just a "piece of paper." It's a pretty reliable political weather vane.
The latest casualty is Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman, who has announced she won't sign the pledge for her state senate run next year.
The power of the dark side is strong.
Seaman's decision is eerily reminiscent of state Sen. Greg Brower, who signed the pledge when he ran for Congress but refused to sign it for his subsequent senate run. Brower then voted this year for the largest tax hike in Nevada history.
Upon learning the news of Seaman's decision, some conservatives are now pulling their support, including conservative Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who tells me she "will not support or raise money for any candidate who does not sign the pledge."
"No exceptions," she wrote.
And here's why the pledge has become such a litmus test for so many conservatives.
With the notable exception of turncoat Assemblyman John Hambrick, not one of the Republicans in the Assembly who voted for the largest tax hike in history had signed the pledge. On the other hand, again with the notable exception of Hambrick, not one pledge signer in the Assembly voted for the $1.4 billion tax hike.
That pretty much says it all.
Now, according to an email exchange I had with Seaman, she insists she'll still oppose "tax" hikes but wants to be able to vote for "fee" hikes — like car registration fees, marriage license fees, hunting and fishing license fees, you name it. But here's the danger with candidates who try to play this "what is is" game of claiming that a government fee isn't a tax.
Do you remember that gross receipts margins tax that was on the ballot last November? The one that 80 percent of Nevada voters rejected? And do you remember how, after the election, Gov. Brian Sandoval proposed a mutated version of that gross receipts tax by misleadingly calling it a business license fee?
By Seaman's logic and definition, she would have been free to vote for it because it was called a fee instead of a tax. Indeed, she voted for nine separate fee hikes in the 2015 session.
By the way, the National Park Service just announced it was jacking up the entrance fee for you to visit and enjoy Lake Mead next year from $10 per vehicle to $20. I guess Assemblywoman Seaman is OK with that since it's a fee and not a tax. I wonder if her constituents would agree?
As for conservatives who might now switch their money and volunteer time to other more committed conservative candidates, let it be known that we didn't leave Assemblywoman Seaman.
She left us.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grass roots advocacy organization. He can be reached at www.muthstruths.com.