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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Brush with greatness

Former Senator Bob Dole came to town and although I love to attend big functions like his, the price tag is often too big for my checkbook. Some kind soul however made it possible for me to be in attendance, and whoever you are: thank you!

I showed up early to hear Bob Dole talk about the greatest generation. I wanted to soak in every minute as I was going to have to leave early to host the Steve Hall show and interview Drew Johnson of Tennessee Center for Policy Research.

When I arrived, the crowd was about 50 or so people in a small reception area. I was talking with a friend of mine when out of nowhere Bob Dole walks up and starts talking with us, after a few while he had to go but said how nice it is to talk to good Republicans.

I was shocked! I figured at best I would see him from across the room, but it was far better. Bob left to deliver a mini speech for the reception that had grown to about 125-150 people and then to the main reception hall to deliver his main speech. In the main room in front were about 4 rows of tables of 8. There were several chairs in the back. The tables were assigned seating and I was seated right in the front row in the middle. Right near the stage when I walked up to my table, who was sitting there but Bob Dole!

"Hey Camp" he said ,I was impressed with all the people he must meet that he remembered my name. We were able to talk some more and I had him sign a book on tape that he did of his acceptance speech as our party's presidential nominee. He was impressed that I had one.

I told him how I had stolen some of his lines from him-he made a joke about how it didn't quite work out for him in the race but maybe they would work better for me! He said that he actually has only one copy left of the book that went with the tape. If I had one, I would have given it to him.

He seemed in good spirits but he didn't look so well. I think he has been having some health problems and just got out of the hospital. Unfortunately I had to leave a few minutes into his speech to do the TV show. Bob Dole has a great sense of humor about himself and one of his one-liners was to the effect of “I am not sure if you heard I have done a few TV commercials lately (the crowd chuckles) but people keep asking me for free samples. I tell them carrying around free Pepsi is awfully difficult.” The crowd erupted in laughter.

He has a great way with a room and is a true American hero.

Next I went on to do the Steve Hall show. After an initial glitch, the show went well. Drew Johnson is a very sharp person with great political sense. We discussed Pre-K, ethics, state spending, education, healthcare, and the illegal drug tax. This tax is for illegal drug dealers (crack, meth, etc.) to get a license and to pay taxes on their ill-gotten gain and therefore not “get in trouble” if they get busted. We laughed about the stupidity of this tax. It actually costs the state about 25 times what it brings in. Sounds like what a lot of the government does is backward from the start and getting worse.

I almost hazard to complain because the Governor will probably set up a committee or give it more money to improve the system! I can hear the call now “we need to recruit more crack dealers to make this tax work!”

Drew also talked about how he is trying to set up a computer system that will track voting history and bills. I brought this up in an earlier post about how the computer system we have was designed on purpose NOT to allow people to check out information on their state representative or senator. (They don't want an informed public who might not like what they see.)

If you would like to learn more about this idea, log onto to www.tennesseeepolicy.org. This is a very worthy project and if you are able to donate any amount, please do so.

On a last note,as I was walking into the Bob Dole event, a reporter from the Tennessean called me to ask about what I thought of lobbyists and the legislature and what should change. A good story may emerge. We will wait and see.

13 comments:

  1. If Bob Dole is so great I wonder why he never tells any of his constituents that they are all being defrauded by the IRS.

    Look here, Stacey, tell me why these people are getting 100% refunds of every penny they paid in to the IRS...

    $360,000 complete refunds from IRS

    You're not hiding this information from your constituents like Bob Dole is are you Stacey?

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  2. The illegal drug tax is actually a way for the government to seize non-drug related assets of the dealer as a result of tax evasion. It is a law enforcemnt and punishment tool, not a revenue tool. You should know this already.

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  3. I am not understanding the law. The stamp from my understanding allows them to sell the product, but not posses the product? WHat is the purpose of the stamp? TO avoid jail time? Civil penalties?

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  4. Hmm, are you saying you attended an event and were given a ticket by someone else? How much was that ticket worth Camp? Who gave it to you? Lets get seom open government around here.

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  5. 20.00 or 25.00 was purchase price.The ticket was comped to my office 1-2 hours before the event. It may have been comped by the sponcer of the event I will find out .This sort of thing is not irregular for political events.

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  6. I am about sure this sort of thing is allowed under the "cup of coffee" laws in tennessee.

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  7. The www.tennesseepolicy.org address is dead. I want the idea to come to fruition, but what is going on with the site?

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  8. Representative Campfield,

    I was directed to this web site by an understandably irate taxpayer who called the department of revenue after reading your recent comments on the Unauthorized Substances (“U-Sub”) Tax Program. In your post you state that “the illegal drug tax… is for illegal drug dealers (crack, meth, etc.) to get a license and to pay taxes on their ill-gotten gain and therefore not ‘get in trouble’ if they get busted.” You also state that you “laughed about the studipity of this tax,” and that the tax “[a]ctually costs the state about 25 times what it brings in.”

    By virtue of your stature as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, your comments on this blog are afforded an elevated level of credibility when discussing recent legislation. As such, inaccurate statements regarding the U-Sub Program and its costs are a disservice to your constitutes, your readers and to the state that you were elected to represent.

    The legislation authorizing the Unauthorized Substances Tax program was introduced in the 2004 legislative session by Senator McNally and Representative Curtiss. A copy of the final language may be found in Chapter 803, Public Acts, 2004. The act specifically provides that “Nothing in this act may in any manner provide immunity from criminal prosecution for a person who possesses an illegal substance.” Therefore, drug dealers will “get in trouble” when they are arrested whether or not they have purchased the necessary tax stamp. A properly affixed tax stamp will merely prevent civil penalities. Unauthorized substances that do not have a properly affixed tax stamp are assessed for unpaid tax thereby allowing the department of revenue to seize assets of the drug dealer that would not otherwise be subject to seizure by law enforcement.

    This legislation was patterned after a very successful North Carolina program and both Sen. McNally and Rep. Curtiss worked closely with the department to ensure that Tennessee’s legislation laid the ground work for the best program of its type in the country.

    You also state that the U-sub tax program “[a]ctually costs the state about 25 times what it brings in.” This is a complete faleshood. Although this legislation was intended to be an additional tool for law enforcement and not a revenue raiser, this program does produce additional revenue for Tennessee. June 30, 2005 will mark the six month point of our new Unauthorized Substance Tax program. Through June 21, 2005 the department has assessed $14,925,591 and collected $480,007. Although we do not anticipate collecting 100% of our assessments we are encouraged by these early numbers. The salary and benefits of our Tax Enforcement USUB positions for the first six months will be $272,500.

    In a recent conversation the director of the North Carolina Unauthorized Substance Tax Division stated that North Carolina is on track to have its best year in collections. With more than a month remaining in its fiscal year NC has collected $8,491,197 on an annual budget of $1,218,136. It’s noteworthy that NC only collected $107,236 during its first six months of operations.

    The department of revenue expends a tremendous amount of resources educating taxpayers about Tennessee’s tax laws. Please realize that having to correct misinformation ultimately leads to increased compliance costs and less efficient operation in government.

    Sincerely,
    Reagan Farr, Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue

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  9. Not haveing to pay civil penalities is "not get in trouble" If given a choice of haveing to pay civil penalties or not I am sure that drug dealers would rather not pay them. More later...

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  10. Well said Mr. Farr. TN is not unique in having an illegal drug tax. We are only one of 23 states with this program in place. On the "get in trouble" line, without the tax there are NO civil penalties, with the tax there are additional civil penalties. Any way you cut it, dealers get in MORE trouble with this law than without it.

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  11. The Tennessee Center for Policy Research will release its study concerning the Unauthorized Substances Tax (UST) on Monday, June 27, on our website: www.tennesseepolicy.org (which is up and working).

    Reagan Farr is correct that the tax has collected $480,007, but three-fourths of that amount is given back to the local law enforcement agency that makes the drug bust, meaning that the program has generated only $120,002 for the state. The total budget for the UST program is $800,000, with an additional start-up cost of $1.2 million. This means a spending of nearly $1.6 million to date (after six months) for about $120,000 in revenue.

    Perhaps more importantly, even if the tax becomes the revenue generator that many hope, the tax—as the TCPR study explains—is quite probably a violation of the Constitution (twice over).

    Again, please feel free to read the TCPR report on Monday at www.tennesseepolicy.org.

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  12. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the U-Sub tax stamp has its roots in Prohibition-era efforts to fight Al Capone and his mob. Unable to convict him on conventional criminal terms, authorities went after him on tax evasion charges and were successful.

    As Mr Farr notes, the State can go after people (and their assets) for the clear-cut violation of not having a tax stamp on the drugs they're caught with.

    To me, its a sleazy Catch-22 mostly designed to enrich police departments.

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