Governor Brewer's Campaign Manager: Too Many Spending Cuts May Mean Election Probs for Republicans; Says "Temporary" Tax Needed

An interesting little spat is brewing over at the right-wing Sonoran Alliance blog, where our favorite, furry whipping post, the anonymous "Chewie," has upset the elephant cart.

Chewie has inside info, supposedly, that Governor Jan Brewer's campaign manager, lobbyist and public relations expert Chuck Coughlin (pictured), is "behind" Brewer's billion-dollar-a-year tax increase proposal because he wants to enrich one of his other clients.

That provoked a lengthy response from Coughlin, as well as a disclaimer from Sonoran Alliance's editor that the closeted writers at the blog "are not all in lock-step with one another..."

Coughlin offers up his argument for what he calls a "temporary" tax (they're all temporary, till they're extended), suggesting that those concerned with a tax hike need to accept the possibility and move on to the task of cutting government spending. Coughlin says if at least $500 million is needed to pay the bills after all the cuts are made,

... I believe Arizona voters would support a constitutionally limited 2-3 year, dedicated 1% increase in State Sales tax to support core government services (K-12, Higher Ed, Health Care for the poor and public safety).

Interestingly, Coughlin -- who helped lead Brewer's transition team -- outlines how talk of a tax increase is motivated, in part, by politics:

If Republicans intend to stay in the majority at the Arizona Legislature, we must not cut programs to the point where voters will no longer have confidence in our ability to lead.

Coughlin is playing the fear card against conservative state lawmakers: Oppose a tax increase in favor of deeper cuts at your own peril.

Coughlin sidesteps Chewie's insinuation of public corruption, painting himself as a noble sort. Cue the patriotic music and thump your Bible:

I entered the public affairs business over 25 years ago, not to make money but to pursue good ideas, support good government, and to be vigilant about the abuse of government power and authority. I have worked for then Congressman John McCain, Attorney General Grant Woods, Governor Fife Symington, State Senator's Bob Burns, Russell Pearce and John Nelson to name a few. I consider all of them to be my dear friends today. And no, we don't always agree.

God has been very good to me, my family and to the many people who work with me here at Highground. I trust if I keep trying to follow the path and values outlined above I will continue to be fine.

Coughlin concludes his essay with a hearty, "let's knock off the personal attacks."


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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.