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Hillyer signs Taxpayer Protection Pledge, downplays support of Riley Amendment 1

The Quin Hillyer campaign announced today that Hillyer is the first Republican candidate in the Congressional District 1 Special Election to sign the Americans for Tax Reform Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

“I understand how Washington works, the problem is the people we send up there do not,” Hillyer said in a statement. “There is a spending problem that needs to be addressed. I am proud to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and vow to fight tax hikes and cut spending once I am elected to Congress.”

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is the brainchild of Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and has been signed by more than 1,100 state officeholders, from state representative to governor.

The pledge has “transformed American politics,” according to Newsweek, and is the benchmark by which many conservatives judge candidates at first blush.

Individuals who sign the pledge promise to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses,” and “oppose any net reductions or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”

But several conservative activists have pointed out that Hillyer has been on record supporting a tax increase in the past.

Hillyer was a vocal proponent of Governor Riley’s Amendment 1, which would have been the largest tax increase in Alabama history had the voters not rejected it by a 2 – 1 margin.

When pressed by conservative blogger Robert Stacy McCain about his support of Riley’s Amendment 1, Hillyer said that it was a unique situation.

Quin Hillyer signs the ATR Taxpayer Protection Pledge

“Here was the deal,” Hillyer wrote in 2010, “Alabama faced huge deficits and has a balanced-budget requirement. Riley already had cut, largely through administrative measures, about a whopping $350 million from the budget in half a year, with more cuts proposed legislatively. But he desperately needed a short-term bridge to balance the budget.” For a full explanation of Hillyer’s position on the Riley tax plan, take a look at his piece in the American Spectator.

I reached out to the Hillyer campaign and asked if supporting a Riley Amendment 1-type plan today would violate his newly signed pledge.

“Quin Hillyer has a 35 year public record of never supporting a Federal tax rate increase and always supporting Reagan/Kemp supply side economics,” campaign spokesman TJ Maloney told Yellowhammer. “In fact, Quin’s first ever published letter to the editor came in 1980 in support of the Kemp-Roth plan which became the Reagan tax cuts and has never wavered since. As a Congressman, Quin will fight for a simpler tax code with lower rates and as he stated by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, fight any income tax rate increases. Period.”

Hillyer is not the only candidate in the race to have supported the Riley tax plan. Bradley Byrne voted in favor of the plan as a state senator.

Alex Schriver, a spokesman for the Byrne campaign told Yellowhammer that Byrne plans to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, just as he did when he ran for Governor.

“In the 2010 cycle, Bradley Byrne was one of the earliest Alabama candidates for any political office to take the Americans for Tax Reform “No New Taxes Pledge” when he signed the pledge on July 18, 2009 – before most of his opponents,” Shriver said. “Bradley stands by that pledge then and now. He plans to re-sign the pledge to reflect his commitment to protecting the taxpayers of Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.”

Does Hillyer’s signing of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge give you confidence that he will hold the line on tax increases if elected to Congress?

[This story was updated to include the comment from the Byrne campaign.]

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