RICHMOND — Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, who has signed Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge in the past, has made a new vow: No new pledges.
The Republican gubernatorial candidate told a group of Northern Virginia business leaders this week that he will not sign the pledge pushed by anti-tax activist Norquist, or any other pledges pushed by other groups.
Cuccinelli consultant Chris LaCivita on Wednesday confirmed the comment, which was first reported by Politico.
After giving a speech to the business group, Cuccinelli was asked in a question-and-answer period if he would sign Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes. Americans for Tax Reform, the group Norquist leads, lists Cuccinelli among its “2013 state legislative signers of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” There is only one other elected official from Virginia on the list, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who supported the transportation package and announced this week that he would not run for governor as an independent.
LaCivita said that Cuccinelli had signed in the past, “but not in 2013.”
“Ken said, no, he wasn’t going to,” LaCivita said. “We have just adopted a policy of not signing pledges of any nature.”
A tea party hero, Cuccinelli was highly critical of a $1.4 billion-a-year transportation funding overhaul that passed the General Assembly last month, saying it calls for a “massive tax increase.” His position on the bill drew criticism from some Northern Virginia business leaders, who say the region’s traffic woes are hurting the economy.
LaCivita said Cuccinelli’s comments about the Norquist pledge should not be construed as a softening of his long-held opposition to tax hikes.
“Ken’s got a proven record, and we would rather have a debate on the record as opposed to a debate on a pledge,” LaCivita said.
Cuccinelli campaign spokesman Jahan Wilcox added: “Ken Cuccinelli agrees with the principles of Americans for Tax Reform and keeping taxes low. However, it’s our policy to not sign campaign pledges.”
Cuccinelli is running against former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe to succeed Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), who is term-limited. McAuliffe and McDonnell support the transportation plan.
“Ken Cuccinelli’s new support for tax increases is the worst of both worlds for Virginians,” the Democratic Party of Virginia said in a prepared statement. “Cuccinelli used his office to attack the bipartisan transportation funding compromise supported by Governor McDonnell, Terry McAuliffe and Lt. Governor Bolling because it raised revenue to help fix the transportation system. Now, Cuccinelli says he supports raising taxes but just not to fund transportation in Virginia.”