By Cheryl Lasseter
Did Mississippi House Member and Lieutenant Governor candidate Jamie Franks vote to support a death tax?
A political ad currently running on local TV stations claims that he did, asking "Why did Jamie Franks vote twice to support the death tax?"
The claim refers to 2004 House Bill 1781, which would have changed the estate tax schedule. Franks says the claim is false. "What I voted for was to increase the exemption in the estate tax, to conform it to federal law when it was increased. The State Senate passed the same bill, most of the Republicans in the Senate voted for that legislation," he says.
The ad also says "That same Jamie Franks played politics and blocked millions of dollars in economic development money."
Franks says in 2004 he voted to delay the implementation of bond projects for businesses proposed by Governor Barbour. "We put an additional $50 million in that bill that year for community and junior colleges, and we took care of Institutions of Higher Learning," he says. "We made sure average folks got something out of that bill."
Franks takes issue with the entire ad, which depicts a man walking across graves in a cemetery. "(A cemetery) should be a sacred place and not used in a political stunt," he says.
The ad never mentions Phil Bryant, the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor. It's paid for by the Republican State Leadership Committee and its Mississippi affiliate. The group is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
"Our campaign has really had no input in that commercial," says Bryant, who is currently State Auditor. "It's the Republican Leadership, State Leadership Organization. They decide what they want to put out there, what message they think is important."
When asked his opinion on the ad, Bryant said this. "They should be accurate. We just say make sure whatever you say is true, and if it's not then they need to take it down."
Franks says Bryant can have the spot pulled if he wants to.
Bryant tells us he has no such control, and RSLC has a right to run it if they want to. He says Franks should consider pulling his ad regarding Mr. Bryant's stance on the grocery tax, and changing the school week from five days to four. He calls those claims misleading.