The Redistricting Commission suffered a major setback Friday
An afternoon update on Virginia politics.
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RPV filed a complaint against a nonprofit that was touted by McAuliffe for an independent study
The Republican Party of Virginia filed a tax law complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) alleging deliberate violations of federal tax law by Virginia Excels, a 501(c)(3) public charity organization. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has cited the organization’s recent study that provided data saying a potential plan from his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin to eliminate the income tax would decimate funding for public schools.
In their complaint, RPV alleges that Virginia Excels engaged in “overt and unambiguous political campaign intervention in violation of federal law.”
Virginia Excels dates back to a blog post in October of 2017 when they announced their formation. “Virginia Excels will serve as a platform for communities to shape public education by advocating for policies and practices that are good for kids, families and communities,” the post from 2017 reads. “The organization will initially focus on Greater Richmond and at the state level with the Virginia General Assembly.”
The group has posted scarcely since that first announcement in 2017. Their most recent announcement took place last month when they wrote a scathing report about the potential impacts of eliminating the individual income tax in Virginia. “Every four years, Virginia elects a new Governor. Over the years, we’ve studied the difference between good politics and good policy,” the report begins. “During our Gubernatorial Elections, we often hear platforms that sound good politically, but have extreme policy consequences.” The report stated that eliminating the income tax would result in a $4.5 billion loss for local school division funding.
Glenn Youngkin faced backlash after saying early in his campaign that he wants to eliminate the state income tax. “We are absolutely focused on not just getting our income tax down, but how we can, in fact, eliminate it,” Youngkin said during the April interview.
McAuliffe repeatedly hammered Youngkin on this over the summer accusing him of wanting to defund public schools and the police.
The Republican gubernatorial nominee has since cleaned up that position multiple times. “I don’t believe we can eliminate Virginia’s state income tax,” he said in August.
The report from Virginia Excels was released on Sept. 7. “Candidates have flirted with the idea of eliminating the individual income tax; this policy will have a catastrophic impact on public education in the Commonwealth, and will disproportionately impact our historically, disenfranchised communities,” the report reads. “Frankly, eliminating the individual income tax is a method of defunding our schools.”
RPV responded with a complaint. “Virginia Excels has engaged in several activities wholly inconsistent with any legitimate 501(c)(3) tax-exempt purpose and has flaunted federal tax laws by engaging in egregious political campaign intervention activity and devoting a substantial part of its activities to attempting to influence legislation,” the complaint from RPV reads. “t is undoubtedly clear that Virginia Excels holds itself out to be operating under section 501(c)(3) of the Code.6 As such, it is expressly prohibited from engaging in political campaign activity and cannot engage in more than an insubstantial amount of lobbying.7 It violates both of these clear rules.”
RPV attributed the dissemination of the report from the McAuliffe campaign and other Democratic entities as a reason for the violation. “The Democratic Party of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign, and the partisan propaganda blog Blue Virginia immediately touted the ‘report’ and falsely claimed it ‘details the effects of Glenn Youngkin’s economic plan on Virginia education system,'” RPV said in a press release.
“It is a public document,” said Taikein Cooper, the executive director of Virginia Excels. “Any candidate who wants to look at the research, they are welcome to do so.”
“Mr. Youngkin was never called out by name,” Cooper continued. “I have been a student of politics a very long time, I remember the aftermath of us eliminating the car tax after the 1997 gubernatorial election so this was a red flag for me when I heard someone else eliminating a tax and the impact that would have on education.”
RPV also cites the close relationship between Cooper and the Democratic Party of Virginia. In addition to his role with Virginia Excels, Cooper is also the chair of the Prince William Democratic Committee. He says he has always worked to keep his personal and professional work separate. “I have been very intentional about separating my personal affiliations from my professional role.”
RPV’s chair accused Virginia Excels of breaking the law to help McAuliffe who is in a dead heat race with Youngkin. “Terry McAuliffe is trailing in the polls, so his fellow political cronies are resorting to breaking the law and doing dirty tricks to get their preferred candidate elected,” said RPV Chairman Rich Anderson.
“It is ironic how quickly people will try to craft a narrative that fits their perspective,” Cooper said. “If the claim that [Youngkin] makes is true that he does not favor eliminating the individual income tax, then why even talk about it?”
McAuliffe and Youngkin are locked into a tight race as the final weeks of the election ramp up. The latest poll from Christopher Newport University shows McAuliffe leading within the margin of error.
Neither McAuliffe nor Youngkin provided comment for this article.
Election day is Nov. 2.
Terry McAuliffe is traveling the commonwealth this weekend with stops in Ashburn, several stops in Richmond and Northern Virginia, Petersburg, Winchester, and Hampton.
Glenn Youngkin will be in Chesterfield tonight for a ‘Parents Matter” rally.
Terry McAuliffe launched a new ad
Glenn Youngkin launched a new ad
Did the Redistricting Commission implode today?