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U.S. Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.) and 9th Congressional District candidate Tom Graves seemed to be on the same page regarding their support for the FairTax, particularly since they spoke in favor of the idea at an event in Missouri in June 2009.
Graves has been telling supporters and voters about his efforts to work with Linder on the FairTax.
"I’ve traveled the country advocating for the FairTax, along with Herman Cain, Neal Boortz and John Linder," Graves, a former state representative, said at an April 23 candidate debate at the Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville.
Linder, who represents Georgia's 7th Congressional District and is retiring at the end of this term, says that's an exaggeration. The congressman took the unusual step of accusing Graves, a fellow Republican, of lying about his efforts to push the idea. Linder even said he "didn't know who [Graves] was or why he was there."
"Tom Graves is telling you that he has traveled the nation with John Linder to sell the FairTax. That simply is not true," Linder said in a 30-second robocall on May 27 for Graves’ opponent, Lee Hawkins.
The congressman added: "If a candidate is willing to lie to you to get elected, what will you expect from him after he is elected?"
The Graves campaign said it is surprised by Linder’s remarks and baffled by Linder's seeming unfamiliarity with the candidate.
"It’s kind of bizarre for the congressman to say he didn’t know what he [Graves] was doing there," said Graves campaign spokesman Tim Baker, who added the two men traveled together to the event.
We decided to check out how involved Graves has been with Linder to sell the FairTax.
First, what is the FairTax? It would abolish all federal personal and corporate income taxes and other taxes, and replace them with a federal retail sales tax, according to the Web site FairTax.org. It essentially is a consumption tax -- the more you buy, the more tax you pay.
The FairTax is an important cause to Linder. He’s been advocating the idea for more than a decade and co-wrote a book with Boortz explaining its benefits.
Jennifer Drogus, Linder's communications director, said her boss appreciates Graves' support for the FairTax. But Linder felt like Graves exaggerated his role in the effort.
We asked Graves campaign officials whether they thought their candidate was exaggerating things a bit by saying he "traveled the country" in support of the idea.
"The record speaks for itself," said Baker, the campaign manager. "If you look at the fact, he was there."
When asked whether they made other trips to talk about the FairTax, the Graves campaign focused on that Missouri trip as proof that their candidate is correct. Yes, they made a trip halfway across the country. But we think one trip to Missouri does not equate to "traveled the country."
We find Tom Graves’ claim is Barely True.
Editor's note: This statement was rated Barely True when it was published. On July 27, 2011, we changed the name for the rating to Mostly False.
Lee Hawkins for Congress campaign video
John Linder Web site.
YouTube, Midwest FairTax Rally.
Telephone interview with Graves campaign manager Jim Baker, June 1, 2010.
Telephone interview with Jennifer Drogus, communications director for U.S. Rep. John Linder, June 2, 2010.
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