Attack Ads Are Hitting Embattled Lawmaker For His Carbon Tax Bill

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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A moderate lawmaker running for re-election in a competitive district will be the target of a major attack ad initiative, a result of him introducing a carbon tax bill in Congress.

American Energy Alliance (AEA), a political advocacy group, has launched a two-week, $75,000 ad campaign against Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo. The Florida congressman has received heavy criticism from conservatives and anti-tax leaders for sponsoring legislation that calls for a tax on carbon emissions — a move many argue would result in higher prices for everyday commodities.

Now, energy interests are piling onto the criticism. AEA says their digital ad campaign is meant to inform the public and hold lawmakers accountable for supporting “destructive” energy taxes.

“By introducing H.R. 6463, Representative Carlos Curbelo has chosen to lend his name to a policy that would tax American families and small businesses, undermine our economic recovery, and increase government spending, while doing virtually nothing to improve the environment,” AEA President Thomas Pyle said in a released statement.

Curbelo, a moderate Republican, introduced H.R. 6463 in July, a bill that aims to replace the federal gas tax with a tax on carbon emissions from industrial activities. Experts resoundingly agree that the bill has zero chance of passing the GOP-controlled Congress, with Curbelo saying he simply hoped it would spark a debate. In fact, House Republicans overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution in July that denounced the concept of a carbon tax. (RELATED: REVEALED: Here Are The Details Of This GOP Lawmaker’s CO2 Tax Bill And Why It’s Likely Doomed To Fail)

“Florida families deserve to know whether their elected representatives are willing to reject a new tax on the energy they rely on every single day. Unfortunately, Representative Curbelo is doing just the opposite,” Pyle continued.

AEA’s attack ads against Curbelo are just the “first phase” of what will be a larger campaign that, according to them, aims to educate voters and target pro-carbon tax lawmakers. The group is the political arm of the Institute for Energy Research, a D.C.-based research firm that supports free-market solutions for energy and environment issues.

Their campaign launch follows those who have already hit Curbelo and other supporters of carbon taxes. On the same day he introduced his bill, Grover Norquist, the leader of Americans for Tax Reform, held a press conference denouncing the proposal and indicating his group would make it a campaign issue.

The AEA attack ads come at a tough time for Curbelo, a Republican running for a third term in a south Florida district that voted for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by a 16-point margin. In fact, he represents the most Democratic-leaning district currently controlled by a Republican for re-election. Election analysts consider his district to be one of the biggest pickup opportunities for Democrats this cycle.

However, his moderate bona fides and adoption of more progressive policies — such as the carbon tax — have kept him competitive.

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