Connaughton Campaign Responds to “The Politics of Lies”

Phillip Rodokanakis’ “The Politics of Lies,” posted March 28 on Bacon’s Rebellion, is mind-boggling in its deceitful mudslinging and campaign chicanery, especially since it comes from someone claiming certification as a fraud investigator.

The “half-truths, falsehoods and outright lies” Mr. Rodokanakis lays to Sean Connaughton – chairman-at large of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors running for the Republican nomination for Virginia lieutenant governor in the June 14 primary – actually better describe his own article.

Tellingly, Mr. Rodokanakis’ screed includes false allegations against Sean Connaughton almost identical to those made by his opponent, state Sen. Bill Bolling, in a campaign flier mailed to Virginia voters in December. (Read full text of response.)

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  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Lowering the tax rate is not the same as lowering taxes. On the other hand if 25,000 new homes were built and those homes were of a higher value than the earlier homes, then more tax money will be raised and, likely, there will be more need for the taxes, so we can’t say offhand whether spending is out of control, based solely on the amount spent.

    At the same time, there are those who blame the apparent tax increases on the need for services brought on by the new houses, even though the basis for this proposition is far from clear, either.

    Both sides can choose to try to obfuscate the issues by confusing the public with facts that miss the point.

    Somewhere in the bottom of the electoral heap, buried in the margin of polling error, there will be a few voters who ask themselves Ronald Reagan’s famous question: “Am I better off because of this guy or not?”

    Those few voters will swing the election, unless they are grossly outnumbered by affiliation voters.

    Somewhere out there in PW county there is a mythical median voter, with the median income and median house. He knows whether he is paying more taxes or not, and if he is, he also knows if his services have improved proportionately. He is going to compare that empirically with all his other expenses to decide if he is better off or not.

    If he is not, he’s going to take it out on somebody at the polls, affiliation or no, campaign bluster or no.

    It only takes a few of those guys to swing an election, because most people don’t bother to vote. The reason they don’t bother is because they recognize two packs of lies when they see them and they have given the process up as hopeless.

    Of the people that bother to go to the polls, most will vote their party affiliation anyway, which means that most of the effort expended in obfuscating the issues is wasted.

    Over the long haul the parties would probably be better off attempting to educate that part of the public on the values and philosophy that underlie the parties positions. The idea in such an efort would be to garner long term affiliates who would consistently vote accordingly, preferably without considering the facts too much.

    At present the Republicans have done a better job of this. Where the Republicans have failed is in consistently aligning there activities with their philosophy. For example, ‘Pubs are pro business. The biggest drag on business today is healthcare, yet the pubs are going to abandon this fight to the dems, in spite of it’s being in their own best interests to fix the problem.

    Doing what is in the interest of the party in the long term (establishing clear philosophical and economic values) is difficult to do when continuously faced with two year elections in which policy is plundered for exigency.

    What this means is that instead of going after, fully defining, and obtaining the genuine concensus that it takes to be a year over year success, the parties waste their time and money, and ours, screaming ever more shrilly at the margins in a vain attempt to move the center.

    This argument is a prime example.

    Ray Hyde

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    This discussion is going to be very simple in the end:

    Bill Bolling has signed the ATR Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

    Sean Connaughton has not.

    In the end, after the waters are muddied and accusations are hurled, that’s all Republican voters will look for. And rightly so.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    And in the end Bolling has signed the same type of pledge before…

    And raised taxes.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    I think that Republican voters are looking for something a little more than just the ability to sign a pledge! Please give voters a little more credit.

    Voters want someone who is going to stand up for them and not walk out when they are called on to take a stand on a controversial issue. They want someone who is going to bring new ideas to the table and truly be a leader, for the Party and for the Commonwealth.

    Anyone can sign a pledge. I want the candidate who I know will do the right thing and fight for lower taxes, whether he signed a silly pledge or not.

  5. I love watching anonymous people argue. Come on, people. At least make up a name.

    Read the blue dog column on anonymous blogging. Don’t have the link.

  6. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Paul is right. If you don’t want to register, at least do what Ray Hyde does–put some name at the end of your comment so people can agree or disagree with Batgirl or Studmuffin, instead of Anonymous 1 or Anonymous 2.

  7. Alright. With that out of the way, here’s what I have to think of this debate:

    Ronald Reagan.

    He fails both of your impossible tax increasing litmus tests with flying colors. In fact, he puts Governor Warner’s tax raising to shame.

    This isn’t a dig on Reagan – I’m just trying to make the point that the Republican party wasn’t always a tax free party. This is a recent phenomenon.

    If you keep up this purge, you’re going to leave some of your supporters behind, especially at the state and local level where people feel services.

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    A lot of Phil R’s anguish that spawned his mudball does go back to “the pledge”. None of the statewide frontrunners (Kilgore, Connaughton, McDonnell) have signed it. Bolling is his only hope. But as others have noted, it doesn’t take a lot of fortitude to opportunistically sign the pledge. Many have done it and gone right out to indirectly (or even directly) raise taxes. The Connaughton piece that Phil complains of reacted to Bolling’s attacks and pointed out (I have yet to see anyone challenge its assertions factually) that Bolling has a history of raising taxes on the citizens while bellowing around the countryside about how antitax he is. It seems like fair game to me. I would have been more impressed with Phil’s piece if he identified a single assertion by Connaughton re Bolling that was inaccurate. It might have helped to do that if Phil was going to start throwing around the strong personal attacks on the integrity of Connaughton.

    GA members of both parties and all ends of the spectrum are notorious for talking a big game and then passing burdens around to the localities. What is siginificant about the piece that Rodokanakis ran in Bacon’s Rebellion was that it was largely a warmed over piece of Bolling hit lit from late last year. It continues this strangeness of asserting that rising wealth in the form of home values is the same thing as a tax increase. These guys have to know (and if they don’t know they all would have long ago been killed in traffic trying to figure out how to cross the street) that the charge that tax-cutters like Connaughton (or Bush) raised taxes by virtue of improving economic conditions doesn’t make an ounce of sense. Sure, the arithmetic can have that effect (although these guys wildly exaggerate the arithmetic). But the problem (if it is a problem) is reliance on ad valorem taxes for significant public financing. I suspect that there was a time when property value taxes made good sense and were fairly applied to fund education and other local functions. But it’s a very different world in Virginia.

    It would be a great service to Virginians for some of these candidates to ignore the moon-howlers and institue a wide-open debate on tax policy. Retreat from ad valorem property taxes has to be considered in a context of increasing income taxes or giving localities different revenue streams to fund core programs. It’s an important debate that Connaguhton has shown some initial willingness to get into. But guys like Phil really can’t be there if the vital essence of all their views is “no new taxes.” They per force lock us in to a lot of old bad ones.

  9. Here’s some math to remember:

    If assessments rise by 20% in one year, it only takes a 17% tax cut to offset assessments. See example:

    2004 assess: $100 + 20% increase = $120

    new 2005 assess: $120 Tax – cut on rates of 16.666% = $100

    It’s just the way the math works out, but this tends to inflate wild claims about assessments going up.

  10. What bothers me is the fact that Phil R simply recycled an old Bolling assault on Connaughton. What suprises me is that Bolling’s camp is not doing any of this. It seems to me that between the mailer Connaughton did to crush the view of Bolling as an “anti-taxer” and Bolling being unble to qualify for the ballot yet(Even Leslie Byrne could do it!!!!!) that his campaign has been sent into a spin.

    I think some of you are right… Connaughton is seperating himself from this field and very soon will be the frontrunner.

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    If you think it has been easy over the past four or five years in the State Seante to be one of the lonely five or so voices agianst taxes, you don’t know what’s going on.

    Bill Bolling has stood tough when the most powerful members of his chamber have beat on him to join them in raising taxes. That’s the record I’m looking at. Bill’s as solid a conservative as they come.

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    The Lt Governor of our state needs to be a leader. Standing up and being a voice while accomplsihing nothing will not help bring tax relief to the people of our state.

    If Mr Bolling is so well respected and able to be the official leader of the Senate why is it that he can not convince his fellow caucus members to vote against the tax increase?

    In the real world ineffective leaders DO NOT get promotions.

  13. HAHAHA. Sorry, Anonymous (last post) but I find the following hilarious:

    “The Lt Governor of our state needs to be a leader.”

    Yes, because they have so many responsibilities!

    We could elect a goat to the position Lt. Governor and it would affect the state in the following 4 ways:


  14. Paul, you’ve definitely hit on something there, but I don’t know that we should write off the LG position entirely…

    That aside, I think anonymous had a point about leadership… a quick check shows that Bolling was only able to get 2 bills passed this session. 3 others were incorporated into bills introduced by 1st term Senators. Now maybe he was just so busy with his LG race that he didn’t have time to focus on legislative issues this year, but those number just don’t give the impression of someone really fighting hard for the citizens of his district or of the Commonwealth…

  15. Mattaponi Avatar

    by the way guys – sometimes when you try to sign on with an identity, the BR site defaults to “anonymous”. I’ll try again to id myself and take full credit for the eigth comment in the string. Sincerely yours, Mattaponi

  16. I would like to remind everyone that if the Gov falls over dead tomorrow the LG takes over. With that being said we should NEVER take the Office of Lt Gov lightly and should elect someone that can be a strong executive.

  17. Nicksun Avatar

    Bolling is a hack. Sean Connaughton has sold himself to the housing lobby. Check out and see his contributers. Do we want the rest of Virginia to look like the nightmare that is Prince William Co? For those of you who are unfamiliar with PWC picture Mc Mansion after Mc Mansion surrounded by commuters in cars that aren’t moving. How can this guy ask for our vote. The county is a shadow of what it once was.

    Again Bill Boling is a hack.

  18. Nicksun Avatar

    PS Vote for Hanger

  19. Laszlo Avatar

    PS Vote for Beyer!

  20. NoVA Scout Avatar
    NoVA Scout

    I’ve noticed Nicksun at other sites throwing around this fanciful riff about Connaughton/Prince William/McMansions/Developers etc. There may be valid reasons to support Hanger or to oppose Connaughton, but Nicksun’s one-note blast seems way out of sync with what has gone on in PW over the last 6 years. If it were as bad in Prince William as Nicksun says, Connaughton wouldn’t be able to poll 70% in the General Election and 80% in the Republican Primary.

    Connaughton has routinely locked horns with developers, has been aggressive about demanding substantial proffers, and has taken a lot of heat for his defense of Prince William’s Rural Crescent. In this session of the General Assembly, the developers sponsored legislation targetted directly at Connaughton and Prince William that placed limitations on requiring proffers in the early stages of development. The bill was substantially de-fanged as it moved through, but there was no question that Connaughton and PW were the initial target.

    If Connaughton is getting strong financial support from developers, it’s not because he has rolled over for these folks (as Nicksun recklessly implies). It is because he has been fair, transparent and predictable in his opposition to them and has balanced his anti-development positions with other achievements that provide context for his restrictive positions. He has been effective in streamlining permitting and ensuring predictability in the approval process. Developers also recognize that he is a skilled administrator and has found ways to work around the chaos in Richmond to deal with the crippling infrastructure deficiencies that had acted as a brake on local economic growth. Prince William is now one of the nation’s most vibrant economies. Finally, his successful efforts to bring down tax rates and cap assessment creep have made Prince William a far more attractive place to live than it was when he took over.

    We can stipulate that Nicksun is an avid Emmett Hanger supporter, but he ought to be accurate about what’s wrong with others and right about his Guy.

  21. Nicksun Avatar

    NoVa Scout- Thanks for the very thoughful response. I certainly respect Mr. Connaughton however to say Prince William County is a shining success…Well, I would submit that what has happened in the Gainesville/Bristow area is a disaster. I used to do the commute from Fauquier to Fairfax and I watched my commute expand from 45 minutes to 1.25 hours over 2 years because of the unbridaled growth in Gainesville. Mr. Connaughton oversaw this.

    The quality of life in Northern Virginia is among the worst I have ever experienced. There is lots of money, there are some very interesting people, but the only thing that glues the community together is the collective hatred of traffic and the fear that they will have to pay even more next year in property taxes.

    Again, I respect Mr. Connaughton, but PWC is largely a vast tract of Mc Mansions. This is a fact. Many older people have been forced to sell their lifelong homes and move because they can no longer afford the tax burden. This is also a fact.

    Mr.Connaughton has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers. What am I to infer?

    It’s fair to say that what has happened to PWC would have happened with or without Mr. Connaughton’s leadership. However as a Northern Virginia refugie I am sounding a warning call. Do we want the rest of Virginia to look like Manassas? I would submit that most Virginians do not.

  22. Nicksun- Gonna have to greatly disagree with you here.

    Here are the facts…

    Connaughton has lowered the average per capita tax burden of families in PWC.

    Since Connaughton has come on board PWC has had its lowest crime rate ever.

    PWC is the only jurisdiction statewide to build its own roads, since VDOT can not do the job.

    PWC has the #1 job growth IN THE COUNTRY.

    PWC has invested more in faith based initiatives then any other county in VA.

    PWC has a AAA Bond rating, one of only 40 counties to hold such a rating in the nation.

    PWC was named one of the best run counties IN THE NATION.

    There will be much talk about txaes and who did what through out this campaign and in every campaign we will be invovled in from local Dog catcher to President. Here is the question, is your life better since this person has taken office? 70+% of the people wh live in PWC feel their lives are better since Connaughton took office. There is something to say for that.

  23. Nicksun Avatar

    Yeah, it’s great.

  24. Thanks for agreeing Nicksun! Maybe we’ll convert you just yet.

    For anyone that hasn’t seen the Daily Progress is doing an online poll for all of the races. You should check it out(If the link fits!)

  25. Anonymous Avatar

    I’d posit that Edgar Wilbourn and his developer cronies did more damage to PWC than Connaughton ever did.


  26. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    I have refrained from making any posts on this thread; I realized that I couldn’t fairly respond to the Connaughton campaign’s response to my original column, “The Politics of Lies.” I, therefore, decided to write a second column tackling the additional questions brought forth in the Connaughton response, “The
    Politics of Lies II

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