Rep. Eric Cantor has hit his primary opponent Dr. David Brat with hundreds of thousands of dollars in negative ads critizing Brat's role on the Virginia Joint Advisory Board of Economists.
The non-partisan board advises the governor on macro revenue estimates and has a very specific role. They don't suggest tax rates or policy priorities. Their role is to tell the Governor what to expect in revenues in the long term.
Brat has served on that board under both Governor Tim Kaine and Governor Bob McDonnell. He was there when Kaine proposed a hefty tax hikes in 2006 and 2008 to pay for new roads and to close the budget gap.
Cantor has tied Brat's service on that board to Kaine's tax hike. He claims Brat sat by and did nothing while Kaine attempted to balance the budget with new taxes.
But Brat contends that Cantor is misinterpreting his role on that board and said it was not his job to tell the Governor anything related to taxes.
"We never discussed tax increases because the Virginia code said you are not allowed to do that," Brat told me in a lengthy sit down interview.
Cantor responded to Brat's accusation that he is lying by saying that in order to go to Congress, you need to have the moxy to stand up to the powers that be, beyond just the chapter and verse of your responsibilities in a given position.
"My opponent had the chance to speak out to step off that board if he disagreed with what Governor Kaine did in raising billions of dollars in taxes and he chose not to," Cantor said.
And resigning from the Joint Advisory Board of Economist does in fact happen.
Richard Rahn, a respected economist with a long tenure of service to Virginia's government, stepped down from the same board during the McDonnell administration because he disagreed with the then governor's decision to raise taxes to fund transportation.
“The new taxes and spending will grow the size of the Virginia government relative to (the) state’s GDP — a large and unnecessary step backwards,” Rahn wrote in the letter, first reported by Norm Leahy at Bearing Drift and then Watchdog Virginia.
Cantor said Brat- who actually was on the board during the McDonnell transportation plan debate as well- could've done the same thing.
"My opponent has not stood up to Tim Kaine and certainly not stood up to Barack Obama," said Cantor.
Brat believes Cantor knows full well that he is purposley decieving voters about his role on the board. He claims it is an effort to deflect the campaign narriative away from his own record.
"It's a total red herring and Cantor just doesn't want to run on his record and so he is looking for anything to tie me to and that is his best shot," he said.
Cantor has used this charge against Brat in TV ads, mail pieces and web ads.
For the record, PolitiFact Virginia ruled the ad to be "mostly true".