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On Tax Day, remembering Nevada’s “Judas” state senator

Today is Tax Day. The day working people cough up what they “owe” the federal government.

And it was exactly four years ago today that a then-unknown GOP candidate for Nevada state senate, Michael Roberson, with much fanfare, pomp and circumstance, signed – at a tea party rally! – the Taxpayer Protection Pledge promising the voters of his district and the citizens of Nevada that, if elected, he would “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

Oppose.

And vote against.

Any.

And all.

Efforts to increase taxes.

We all took him at his word at the time.  We only learned later that his pledge was a bald-faced lie and that his word wasn’t worth donkey spit.  But lest some have forgotten, allow me to take today’s solemn occasion to remind folks.

In his freshman term as a state senator in 2011, Roberson did keep his word.

Indeed, when Gov. Brian Sandoval infamously broke his own campaign promise not raise taxes OR extend the $620 million worth of “temporary” tax hikes that were passed in 2009 (over then-Gov. Jim Gibbons’ veto) and were supposed to expire in 2011, Roberson criticized the governor and said he should have found another way to balance the budget other than extending the sunsets.

Nine short months later, Sandoval bought Roberson’s political soul.  Here’s what happened…

As it turns out, Roberson was far more power-hungry than anyone realized at the time.  As such, he wrested effective control of the Republican Senate Caucus shortly after the end of the 2011 legislative session from lame-duck Minority Leader Mike McGinness, who was being termed out of office.

But not satisfied with being the minority leader, Roberson set off on a crusade to become the majority leader – by any means necessary, even if it meant selling out the conservative movement that was so instrumental in getting him elected in the first place.

The first thing Roberson did was recruit nothing but moderate candidates for competitive senate races and forbade them from signing the same Tax Pledge he signed in 2010.

In fact, Roberson endorsed and funded a moderate freshman Republican assemblyman over a veteran conservative assemblyman in a Republican-majority district.  So much for William F. Buckley’s admonition to support the most conservative candidate who can win!

Then came the multi-million dollar sell-out!

In March 2012, Gov. Sandoval announced – without waiting for the new projections from the Economic Forum – that he would once again break his word to the people, businesses and taxpayers of  Nevada and propose extending the 2009 “temporary” tax hikes (what have since become collectively known as the “sunsets”) once again in 2013.

As remarkable as that betrayal of Sandoval’s campaign promise was, Roberson’s almost immediate public statement of support was an even worse double-kick to the groin.  There were always doubts, with good reason, about Sandoval’s conservative bona fides. But Roberson appeared to be solid.

What’s up with that?

Well, it wasn’t long before we found out.  Roberson had “pulled a Judas.”  He sold out for money.

I don’t remember the exact figure now, but I seem to recall that news stories at the time reported that Sandoval had helped Roberson raise some $800,000 to fund Roberson’s effort to not only cement his ascension as minority leader, but possibly wrest control of the Senate from the Democrats and become majority leader.

For his own “thirty pieces of silver,” Roberson did, indeed, sell his political soul; selling out the people of Nevada, the conservative movement and the voters of his district in the process.

Alas, Roberson’s run-to-the-middle sell-out “strategery” flopped, as two of the moderate candidates Roberson recruited, endorsed and funded up the wazoo to win their GOP primaries went down in flames in the general election – leaving Roberson in the minority.

And just as he was bought off to do, Roberson then went into the 2013 session, remained bought off and voted to extend the “sunsets” despite having vocally and adamantly opposed the exact same extension just the legislative session before.

He was against the sunsets before he was for them.

If only that was the end of this sad and sordid story…

Not satisfied with simply supporting the $620 million tax hike of the sunsets, Roberson and five of his GOP “Yes” men in the Senate – nicknamed the Dirty Half-Dozen – surprised and stunned the Carson City ruling class (the lobbyists) by proposing a new $600 million tax hike on the mining industry.

That wasn’t a tax hike as an alternative to the sunsets.  It was in ADDITION to the sunsets!

In fact, one week from tomorrow will mark the one-year anniversary of the introduction of the Roberson Gang’s new mining tax, the revenue from which would drain into the bottomless pit of our failing government education system.  Lovely.

Other than the five, unindicted Republican co-conspirators who sponsored the bill – Sens. Mark Hutchison, Ben Kieckhefer, Joe Hardy, Scott Hammond and Greg Brower – no other legislators – not even the tax-crazy Democrats! – hopped onboard this train.

“We don’t do industry-specific taxes,” conservative Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, an opponent of the Dirty Half-Dozen’s effort, told the Las Vegas Sun. “I know he’s using one of his emergency measures for this, but I don’t know what the point is. Leadership isn’t going to let it pass. It’s not going to get a hearing.”

Indeed, it was a hopeless, absolutely futile proposal that, as Cegavske predicted, never got out of the gate.  It was a complete waste of time that accomplished nothing more than undermining the fiscal conservative agenda of the Republican Party.

Epic, epic fail.

And that’s how Roberson earned the nickname, “Moderate Mike.”

As we remember today, Tax Day 2014, just how little most working people get for how much they pay in taxes, let’s make a commitment to remind people how Moderate Mike lied to get elected and how he betrayed the very taxpayers he pledged allegiance with on this day in 2010.

Roberson faces a spirited and credible challenge from conservative Republican Carl Bunce in the GOP primary on June 10, 2014.

Political Judgment Day.

Let’s hope elephants don’t forget.

Bring on Conservageddon!