An update on the Audrey Scott flap

Obviously this story from yesterday has gotten a little bit of play around the state because former MDGOP Chair (now National Committeewoman candidate) Audrey Scott claimed we bloggers got it wrong.

(Insofar as I know, those “bloggers” would be me. Richard Cross of Cross Purposes made the statement as part of linking to the Washington Post story on Facebook, and I just pointed to his site as a professional courtesy. To date he hasn’t weighed in on the subject on his site.)

Regardless, Scott’s contention is that she was only at the rally to support protecting the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), a position she staked out at Kevin Waterman’s Questing for Atlantis website. Apparently she also defended herself at the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee meeting, according to county Chair Mark Uncapher.

But Mark also sent along a link to the press release the Greater Baltimore Committee did regarding the rally, noting that their Chairman also served on the Blue Ribbon Commission which recommended the gas tax – along with a slew of other fee and toll increases and enactments, including “development of revenue mechanisms that are directly tied to the use of the transportation system…commonly referred to as mileage-based or vehicle miles traveled (VMT) charges” –  in the first place. (Not only that, those who are up in arms about PlanMaryland should also pay attention to Issue Area III in the 32-page report.) The rally’s basic purpose was to show support to the General Assembly for raising $800 million annually in revenues for the TTF, according to the GBC release. A tax increase is also part of the GBC legislative agenda.

To be fair to Audrey, neither she nor Doug Duncan, who was also quoted in the Post article (which was a reprint of an AP story), was a featured speaker at the event. Apparently she was a face in the crowd who wanted to lend her support for the protection of the Transportation Trust Fund. Certainly I would like to see the TTF protected as well – if we have to have any gas tax, it should go to keep up roads and bridges. Mass transit should pay its own way, although the Blue Ribbon Commission believes farebox collection should only make up 35% of operating revenues. So much for building bridges and highways.

But as I said yesterday the perception of Audrey Scott, who is a symbol of the Maryland Republican Party, being at a pro-tax increase rally was something the Post would seize on to undermine the principled position Republicans in the General Assembly would stand upon that we are taxed enough already. It doesn’t necessarily matter what she actually said, for perception is often reality.

On the other hand, if we eliminate the items which aren’t germane to transportation infrastructure, like mass transit, and pass the legislation already introduced by a bipartisan coalition that would protect the TTF, we can see what can be done under the existing tax structure first.

Let me state for the record that I haven’t made up my mind in the National Committeewoman race yet. But when Audrey Scott is already infamous in some quarters for her “party over everything” statement, she’s already behind the 8-ball with a lot of Republican regulars and supporters. And I come from a muckraking county Central Committee which definitely goes against the flow the establishment attempts to create because we have a heavy TEA Party influence on our body, so Audrey already has a tough sell locally.

Now if you want to know what was said at this rally, the Greater Baltimore Committee has a YouTube channel with four videos of the January 19 event. None of them feature Audrey, so presumably the AP stringer covering the rally recognized her as someone important and got her take. But what I did hear being said was speakers who were only too happy to raise our taxes, with the TTF protection being secondary at best.

Judge for yourself whether you agree with me that her attendance wasn’t a politically wise choice.

Update: Scott has garnered a key local endorsement. District 38B Delegate Mike McDermott wrote in a note to local Central Committee members:

I ask you to give strong consideration to (Audrey Scott’s) candidacy as I know that she has everything it takes to represent the interests of Maryland and our party to the uttermost.

He also pointed out Scott’s involvement in the Ehrlich administration as Secretary of Planning. One thing in Scott’s favor: no move toward a PlanMaryland was made during her tenure there.