Did he, really?
Bryan Sanders, campaign manager for Bentley, said the ad was a false attack, and that Bentley has never voted for a tax increase. The Bentley campaign said the bill was actually a vote to prevent large corporations from dodging their fair share of Alabama income tax.
"Dr. Bentley voted to even the playing field for Alabama businesses," Sanders said
The sponsor of the bill and the presiding clerk described it in a similar fashion as Bentley.
“It was kind of a corporate loophole we were trying to close at the time,” said Rep. Richard Lindsey, D-Centre, the bill’s sponsor.
According to the fiscal note that accompanied the legislation, the bill would have raised $78 million by 2009 and provided an estimated $15 million each following year. The money was earmarked to go into Alabama’s Education Trust Fund.
Lindsey’s bill involved a term called Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REITs. Put simply, this occurs when a company creates a subsidiary in one state and buys real estate under the subsidiary’s name in another state. The company then leases the property from the subsidiary and writes the rent off as a business expense, paying little taxes. Larger corporations like Wal-Mart are known to use this tactic, which can save companies millions.
Lindsey said the bill would have disallowed this technique.
He also said Alabama companies were already paying these taxes before the bill was created. He said it was only large, national corporations that were avoiding the tax. When asked if he thought Byrne’s characterization of the bill was fair, Lindsey said “absolutely not.” Greg Pappas, a clerk for the Alabama House of Representatives, agreed the Byrne campaign ad was misleading.
Marty Sullivan, communications director for Byrne’s campaign, said, though the bill was sold as a shutting down a corporate tax loophole, it also included several caveats that would open all Alabama businesses up to re-auditing for their returns as far back as 2001.
“It was just opening the door to be retroactive,” she said.
Before the bill stalled in the House, the Business Associations Tax Coalition released a statement that said the bill would be like placing a “closed for business” sign on all of Alabama’s entrances.
“It will set a precedent for arbitrary, retroactive tax rule changes that will create taxpayer uncertainty and put our state at a great disadvantage,” said Rick Brown, chairman of BATC, in the press release.
Byrne’s ad also accused Bentley of accepting a 62 percent pay raise in 2007. The ad said Byrne refused the pay raise once it passed.
According to a news report from The Associated Press in April of 2007, Byrne was one of seven Republican state legislators who filed paperwork refusing the pay increase. Republican Rep. Paul DeMarco of Homewood and Republican Sens. Del Marsh of Anniston, Larry Dixon of Montgomery, Hank Erwin of Montevallo, Ben Brooks of Mobile, and Harri Anne Smith of Slocomb also filed the paperwork along with Byrne.
According to representatives of the accounting office of the state House of Representatives, Bentley accepted the pay raise. However, on June 1 of this year, Bentley stopped receiving all of his salary except for the $1 a month required to keep him on payroll records -- something the Legislature requires of lawmakers who wish to relinquish their pay.
Byrne’s ad displayed the status number of a pay raise bill and the number of a particular vote appeared on the screen. According to the state’s online legislation database, Byrne voted against the pay raise during the particular vote the ad displayed.
However, Byrne’s ad did not include any information about Bentley’s vote. During his only public vote on the bill, Bentley voted not to override Bob Riley’s veto of the legislation.
The remaining actions on the legislation in the House were voice votes, which allow legislators to vote without a record, Pappas said.
Sources Television Advertisement Alabama Online Legislative Database