Oops, Wrong Kilgore. Put Up or Shut Up Time

On the subject of whether or not Jerry Kilgore ever lobbied for an increase in the Buchanan County gas tax, Frank Kilgore (no relation), the former deputy county attorney who hired Jerry, says the following:

Two media sources asked me for a summary of exactly what Jerry Kilgore’s role was as lobbyist for the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors when he was in private practice at Richmond. Here it is:

Jerry helped Buchanan County on the Coalfields Expressway project, did an able job, charged the County a remarkably small fee for his work, advised me the gas severance tax bill would not fly and that he would not waste the County’s funds pursuing it, I pursued it for my client, the bill died as predicted and that is the end of the story.

How can I prove I was involved at all? Answer: The Secretary of Commonwealth lists me as the supervisor of the County’s lobbyists for the time in question. What is my definition of “lobbying”? Answer: Requesting a legislator or legislative body to vote for a particular bill pending before them.

My challenge to anyone who claims Jerry Kilgore lobbied for a 66% increase in natural gas taxes: If anyone can authentically document that Jerry Kilgore appeared before any legislative body, committee or sub-committee in behalf of this bill, or produce a true copy of any letter, email or other written thing from Jerry to any individual legislator asking them to support the bill I will donate $1000.00 to the Kaine campaign. My offer expires November 1, 2005. Down here in the mountains we call this challenge “put up or shut up time”.

An interesting glimpse of Jerry Kilgore can be read between the lines. Kilgore was employed as a lobbyist in Richmond — he derived his income from generating billable hours. Yet he turned down the work from Buchanan County because he thought it was a waste of time. A lot of people might have given the same advice but taken the work anyway. By Frank Kilgore’s account, Jerry Kilgore acted in an honorable way. It is ironic that the Kaine campaign used this particular episode to inaccurately tar Kilgore.

Jerry Kilgore increasingly strikes me as a decent and honorable man. I still worry, though, how strong he would be as a leader. I don’t look at this election through a partisan lens. I want to know who would do a better job of standing up to Senate Finance Chair John “Tax-and-Build” Chichester on the issue of raising some $2 billion a year in transportation taxes in the 2006 session — Jerry Kilgore or Tim Kaine? Who’s got the stronger backbone? I don’t know.

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  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Me again. I started the argument in the other string, and I have said I accept Frank Kilgore’s explanation and the comments from the Kilgore campaign. Kilgore did what some people call a “gut check” on the severance tax idea and reported back it wouldn’t fly, and did no more. The county’s filing with the state added to the confusion because it didh’t specify what matters Kilgore was retained on, severance taxes, coalfields expressway, etc. It is pretty common for such filings to be vague.

    And as I said before, I always agreed it was a cheap shot on Kaine’s part and irrelevant to the campaign. He’s just trying to muddy the waters on taxes. YOU raised the issue on this page, Jim.

    You also got my juices flowing, Jim, by claiming an increase in the severance taxes wouldn’t have an impact on final consumer prices for natural gas, and of course that was just silly on your part.

  2. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Anonymous 8:22: Perhaps you missed my comment on the previous thread. I have partially back-tracked on my initial assertion. I’ll post the again.

    “Anonymous 12:56 — Interesting documentation! Gov. Gilmore’s statement at the time certainly seems to undercut my argument that the tax was a tax on production, not a tax on consumption.

    “As someone (perhaps you) observed, any tax increase, whether at the wellhead, the pipeline or at the home gas meter, will get passed along to the consumer eventually. I don’t dispute that.

    “From a political perspective, however, it does make a difference at what stage of production the tax is levied. A severance tax is applied to natural gas at the wellhead (I think). From that wellhead, the gas makes its way to a major pipeline which serves many states. I don’t believe that there is a practical way for the pipeline company to say, this gas came from Virginia, so we’re going to pass along the added cost to Virginia consumers. No, the pipeline company just adds the gas tax to its overall fuel costs, which it passes on to all customers. The benefit (for Virginia) of passing a gas severance tax is that all natural gas customers served by the pipeline, even those outside of Virginia, share in paying the tax.”

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Jim, as to your question on who would stand up to the impending second Chichester tax increase? The answer is pretty clear. No-one other than Kilgore. Kaine has touted his support for the tax increase in 2004 and in his fantasyland uses it as a model for good governing, so no question there. Potts is joined at the hip with Chichester and would support anything the man wanted. While I don’t know if Kilgore would stand up to Chichester for sure on this, it’s pretty clear that none of the other candidates would even consider it.

  4. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Anonymous 9:02: Like you, I see Potts as “joined at the hip” with Chichester. Unlike Potts, Kaine has vowed to oppose any transportation tax increase until enactment of a constitutional amendment that protects transportation funds from being raided for other purposes. That stance — a core position in Kaine’s campaign — effectively precludes support for a transportation tax increase in 2006. Indeed, given the length of time it takes to enact a constitutional amendment, Kaine’s promise effectively precludes a transportation increase for the better part of his term.

    Both Kaine and Kilgore appear to be at odds with Chichester. The issue is who — Kaine or Kilgore — will be more adept at legislative maneuvering and building political support.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Jim: From your original post:

    “That tax is on producers, almost all of them big corporations, not consumers. However, the vast majority of Virginians, who aren’t from Southwest Virginia and have never heard of a gas-severance tax, would assume that the “natural gas tax” is a consumer tax.”

    You also used a quote from the Kilgore campaign saying it was a tax on producers, not consumers.

    But I’m glad you’ve seen the light. Sorry I didn’t acknowlege that in my earlier comment.

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    Frank’s challenge is a joke. First he was a Mark Warner supporter. Now he is a Jerry Kilgore supporter.

    He should take that $1,000.00 and buy a pair of flip-flops.

    Of course no one is going to find a letter or email showing Jerry tried to help raise the natural gas tax.

    Someone should ask what Frank is getting [or got] out of all this.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Jim there’s one problem with your story. Remember, Kaine is running as Warner Jr. The centerpiece of Warner’s 2001 campaign was he would NOT raise taxes. He was for the tax referenda, but he said unequivocally he would not raise them and accused his apponent Mark Early of being a liar for insinuating it. Now Kaine can promise all he wants, but it seems very likely to me that if elected he would follow his mentor’s tack on this one as well. So I stand by my original post (Anon 9:02).

  8. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Anonymous 1:23. Actually, I don’t entirely disagree with you. Warner’s about-face on taxes will make it harder for Kaine to maintain credibility on the tax issue. Arguably, the situation now — the state is running a massive budget surplus — is a lot different than it was in 2002, when the state was hemorrhaging cash. On the other, one could argue that if Warner, as a moderate Democrat, could buckle on the tax issue, Kaine, who is more liberal, would as well. People can argue either side of the issue they want.

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