A great line from Carly Simon’s song You’re So Vain is "you probably think this song is about you." Well if you are reading this Anthony Adams rest assured that this column is not about you. It is about reasonable taxpayer expectations.
Some brief history: Anthony Adams is the Assemblyman who represents parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties who along with two others in the Assembly broke ranks with GOP colleagues to provide the votes needed to approve a $12 billion tax increase in February. That increase was part of a package that included putting Proposition 1A on the ballot which would have dealt taxpayers another $16 billion blow.
Since casting votes which inflicted irreparable harm to already overburdened taxpayers Adams has taken the position that those votes were actually courageous because they prevented California from "going off a cliff." For the record there are those who describe Adam’s actions in more colorful and less flattering language.
Adams is a second term legislator who was elected to office by ordinary folks who work hard to look after their families keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table while at the same time generously paying high taxes to support others who cannot or will not support themselves. In this economy many of these same voters now have a new challenge — holding on to their jobs and homes. So after Adams voted to increase taxes that were already the highest in the nation it is no surprise that many of his constituents now support an effort to remove him via recall. They cannot they say afford to take the chance that Adams will remain in office long enough to cast any more of his "courageous" votes.
Now in survival mode Adams has abandoned his base of working taxpayers and sought the protection of the governor and the financial support of the "tuxedo class" to preserve his office.
Some argue that any recall of legislators who violated their written pledges to voters is a waste of time and money. What’s the point anyway when Adams can be challenged in the primary election just 12 months away? Is the recall effort just an over-the-top response by reactionaries seeking revenge or is there a legitimate basis for resorting to this tool of direct democracy?
First it would be difficult to argue that Adams’ own actions would not provide substantial grounds for immediate dismissal from a private sector job. His foremost transgressions would clearly constitute "job fraud" which is described as "fraudulent or deceptive activity or representation on the part of an employee … toward an employer." There can be little debate that Adams misrepresented his views to his employer — voters — prior to the election.
Want proof? A mailer Adams sent out asking for votes states "I will oppose any attempt to raise taxes." Additionally Adams signed the following: "I Anthony Adams pledge to the taxpayers of the 59th Assembly District of the State of California and to all the people of this state that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes."
And there is absolutely no evidence that enhanced interrogation techniques were used to compel Adams to make these declarations. The principal of "no new taxes" was clearly represented by Adams as a core belief and commitment and was presented to the public as a reason to elect him to office.
And that is what distinguishes his situation from all the Democrats who voted for the tax increases. That is precisely the behavior we expect from the majority party. And we are aware of no Democrat legislator in California who has signed the no tax pledge.
Some argue that all Republicans who voted for the tax increases should be recalled. While there is some merit behind that position the other Republicans who voted for the "grand deal" either did not sign the pledge or are termed out of office. Adams’ situation when taken as a whole is different: He could serve for another three years and he is now equally strident about defending his anti-taxpayer vote as he was previously about being a defender of taxpayer interests.
There is another reason why the current Adams recall is wholly justified: Those Californians who do not live off the public dime want to make sure that those legislators who claim to represent the interests of taxpayers will continue to do so. Every member of the California Legislature is being heavily pressured to save this or that program by the conga line of special interests now testifying before budget committees. Quite frankly those who pay the bills don’t have time to travel to Sacramento to engage in this mindless dance. Recalling a legislator who stabbed us in the back is a good way to remind other legislators that there are certain acts which are unforgivable and punishable by the political death penalty known as recall.
Jon Coupal is President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest taxpayer organization — which is dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and promoting taxpayers’ rights.